Karol Stepien

Current Role: Software Development Manager


How technology is making life easier for our colleagues


Making our internal processes faster and simpler? That’s the job of our software developers. They work on a huge range of projects that improve the day-to-day experiences of our people, so they can focus on what they do best. Over to you, Karol.


“Thanks to the size and scale of Tesco, there are so many technologies being used. And for us developers, that means lots of techy problems to solve. The variety of work here is really diverse, so we’re constantly developing and learning. I’ve been here nearly two years and can honestly say I’ve never been bored.


I lead on projects in the Colleague Transformation team. We develop software for Tesco employees which help solve internal challenges and make improvements to existing systems. What’s great is that even though I’m a manager and coordinate the team on the technical side, I still stay close to the work itself and can get involved in the coding, too.

“We’re constantly developing and learning.”

Right now, my teams are working on four main projects. The first is one of my favourites, because it’s already making such a difference for some of our colleagues. It’s called the Accessibility Buddy. We have a lot of internal web pages and apps that we all need to use day-to-day. And after a bit of research, we found that some of our colleagues were having trouble navigating them because of disabilities or impairments. So, this project is all about accessibility – making sure all our colleagues can simply and easily use internal applications.


So far, we’ve used the Buddy to make improvements like upping the contrast on some pages, making the text easier to read. We’ve also built zooming-in capabilities and made it possible to replace text with new fonts that are more accessible for people with dyslexia. It’s all about improving our colleagues’ user experience.


We’re also working on guidance for other Development teams within Tesco so they can make sure anything new they build is accessible for everyone too. We’ve already had some great feedback from our in-store colleagues, which feels great. And they’re looking to roll out our work to the whole of Tesco next, which will be another positive step forward.

“We’re always working on new things.”

Now for the second project. We’re developing a new infrastructure so we have a way to deploy all front-end applications that we write within Tesco. We’re always working on new things, so this project is about giving our developers a way to see the stats of their applications, the logs, analytics, and to monitor performance.


The infrastructure hosts the applications – so we can deploy new versions and spot any problems in real time. It’s a big improvement for everyday developer work, so it’ll have an impact on pretty much every project we do in the future. And the added bonus is, it’s something for the developers, so my team is happy.

"It’s going to make it easier for colleagues to grow their careers.”

The third project is a colleague inbox, which is exciting because it’s changing the way our in-store employees communicate with each other. We use an internal portal called MyTesco which hosts all the applications and pages our colleagues need. And the new inbox gathers the notifications from all of these in one place. The idea is for it to be a replacement for email, so colleagues don’t need to scroll through an inbox full of long messages or check apps individually for updates or actions. It’s really simple, but it’ll be so useful and will save our colleagues a lot of time. And hopefully, we’ll roll it out to all Tesco employees eventually.


The final project is also about improving communication. We’re working on an app to make it easier for colleagues to contact their manager and request to broaden their knowledge, skills and responsibilities. Using the app, in-store colleagues can make requests to move department – from, say, clothing to bakery. No long email chains. No complicated forms. It’s going to make it easier for colleagues to grow their careers and develop themselves – so it’ll feel good to have that implemented.

“The work you do directly impacts the everyday lives of your colleagues.”

These projects may sound straightforward, but each of them is complex in their own way. There are lots of challenges, and with every new project we start we have to adapt our thinking to suit the problem we’re trying to solve. Before we started development with the Accessibility Buddy, we had to get to the bottom of how everyone was using the internal pages. It meant a lot of research and talking to colleagues, to understand any barriers. Then, for the new infrastructure set up, the challenge was more in the tech itself. We had to think about how to provide quick support in case of any incidents, and create processes for disaster recoveries.


Some of the satisfaction for me definitely comes from the variety of the work, as well as completing each project. Every release of new functionality gives us this great moment where our dashboards fill up with charts and statistics as it goes live. We get to see the spikes of usage that come as people start using the applications. It’s always a nice moment that we celebrate together in the office.


For anyone thinking of joining Tesco, I’d say go for it. The variety of work, the people you work with, and the office environment are all great. I never realised how much Tesco did until I started working here – the stores are just a small part of it – so as a developer, there’s a lot of variety in the work you do. The work the Technology team does is really complex and sophisticated, and you can immerse yourself in all the different problems that we’re trying to solve. And ultimately, in my team, what you do directly impacts the everyday lives of your colleagues, which feels amazing.”

Being part of our Technology team means you get the time and tools to try new things. Like the ideas that make life a little better for our customers and colleagues. And the career progression that makes life a little better for you, too.

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