Brewing cost-effective automated solutions with a Smartsheet Overachiever

by Alison Clancy

Editor’s note: In 2020, we launched a new program for our most passionate Smartsheet ambassadors: the Smartsheet Overachievers. This elite group of customers aren’t just product experts; they are innovators, changemakers, and the ultimate Can-Doers. This is the seventh in a series of blog posts introducing you to our inaugural cohort of Overachievers as they share their Smartsheet wins, challenges, and tips.

Kelly Drake goes by many names — senior project manager at Starbucks, Smartsheet Overachiever, Smartsheet Jedi Knight (the force is with her), and perhaps most accurately, Digital Transformer.

“I love to get people thinking about how they can digitally transform the way they work,” Kelly says. “Just because something is the way it is doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be.”

When Kelly joined Starbucks in 2017 and first encountered Smartsheet, her initial reaction was one of skepticism, thinking it was limited like Excel or Google Sheets. Instead, she discovered a platform that matched her passion for learning, efficiency, and constant improvement.

Ideas begin to percolate 

It took a little bit of nitro to bring Kelly to Smartsheet. Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew can now be found on tap in all stores, but a few years ago, the product was still being tested by a small team. A few hundred test stores were being housed in a Sharepoint list, but Kelly noticed that their architectural vendor was doing schematics in another platform.

“I was moving construction updates from email over to a Sharepoint list and I asked the vendor if I could play around with their Smartsheet,” Kelly says. “From there, I knew we could stop doing email updates. Knowledge of the app grew organically across the broader cross-functional team, as well as the company, proving that anyone with a little curiosity can become a Smartsheet Jedi Knight.”

Screenshot of a dashboard showing Starbucks nitro on tap installation progress

Taking it up a notch

Kelly works in the project management organization (PMO) of the Global Growth and Concepts department managing large scale initiatives and innovation projects within store development. In 2019, her team was tasked with installing Nitro Cold Brew equipment into all U.S. stores. With Smartsheet, they were able to complete installations in 4,300 stores in only 12 months and reach 100% of U.S. locations.

“Over the course of the year, the project evolved,” she says, “I’m sort of a one-woman tech team because Smartsheet allows us to function in low-code, no-code environments. If the team needs a change, I can implement it in just a few hours so the project doesn’t have to slow down.”

Screenshot of a dashboard tracking the status of protective shields across US Starbucks stores

Finding a better way in a complex time

In early 2020, Kelly was closing out the nitro project when COVID-19 emerged and it became apparent that more than 9,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada required personal protective equipment to keep baristas and customers safe. A project of this scale that would have been mildly complex before had now become even more layered as the team coordinating the effort needed to know which stores were open or closed, and if they had a reopening schedule. A daily Excel export wouldn’t be enough, given the dynamic nature of the situation.

Using Smartsheet, Kelly took the information available and built out an environment using automation in just two days. The design kept information updated as the situation changed, and would flag expedited shipping needs as they came up. An automated report of store orders was emailed to the supplier every Monday.

“We used Data Shuttle to upload daily shipment tracking information and really leveraged Smartsheet automations to manage the store status and alerts to district managers to provide them real-time information critical to store reopenings,” Kelly explains.

“Automation allows the team to focus on the more complex elements of an issue that require more strategic thinking than technology can provide.”

As a result of the Smartsheet environment Kelly built, the broader project team was able to shift two people off of data entry and refocus them on higher priorities. Impressively, after a cost benefit analysis, the Smartsheet design had a $10 million positive business impact at the beginning of the pandemic and Starbucks was able to reopen stores sooner than predicted.

Kelly holds up her Starbucks cup filled with her drink of choice

Outside of digital transformation, Kelly is a die-hard Seattle Sounders fan, a foodie, and loves traveling. She lives near Pike Place Market and enjoys helping tourists find the best the market has to offer. Once COVID-19 runs its course, she’s looking forward to traveling again and visiting new restaurants, breweries, and wineries.

Meet the rest of the Smartsheet Overachievers, and make sure you join the Smartsheet Community to gain more tips from others like Kelly.