Leveraging Technology to Help Starbucks Partners Support Each Other

Sometimes a simple idea can make a significant impact.

“I had this thought that with the help of technology, we could increase contributions to Starbucks CUP Fund,” said Jim Valeri, lead systems analyst for Starbucks POS Solutions. “I knew that the potential for helping more partners (employees) was within reach.”

Caring Unites Partners or CUP Fund provides financial support for partners who have experienced the devastating effects of natural disasters or urgent family emergencies. The fund is sustained through ongoing partner contributions.

“As our partner base grows, we wanted additional ways to build CUP Fund dollars,” said Elizabeth King, Starbucks vice president, Partner Resources Solutions and Services. “The number of grants we award each year use the full amount we raise each year as well. It would be great to increase our donations.”

Several years ago, Starbucks added a Point of Sale (POS) key on U.S. and Canada store registers that allows partners to make donations to the CUP Fund while making other purchases. Valeri joined fellow partner, Tijani Sellami, to enhance the existing functionality, so partners can simply round up their purchase amount to the nearest dollar and direct this additional money to the CUP Fund. This enhancement will be enabled for six weeks starting today (November 20, 2015).

“I created requirements for the enhanced POS key and Tijani began to identify how he would code it,” said Valeri.

“We worked together back and forth until we had the perfect design,” said Sellami, senior application developer, Starbucks POS Solutions.

In May of this year, Valeri and Sellami unveiled their concept during Spring Hack Day at Starbucks Seattle Headquarters. The event provided an opportunity for partners in Starbucks Information Technology department to create and demonstrate technology concepts that would improve the partner and customer experience.

“Hack Day was like a school science fair,” said Valeri. “Tijani and I had a booth set up with visual aids and a demonstration of the CUP Fund donation enhancement.”

“Partners and judges filtered through the different booths to view the work and make their assessments,” added Sellami.

The enhanced POS functionality won “Best in Show” as well as “Best Partner-Facing Idea.” Shortly after Hack Day, Starbucks leadership shared that they would implement the concept, which led to Valeri and Sellami receiving a “Spirit of Starbucks” award for their efforts. A development team consisting of eight Starbucks partners including Sellami, completed the production work to bring the functionality to life. Projections indicate that if just 10 percent of U.S. partners donate to the CUP Fund while the POS key is enabled, there is the potential to raise approximately $350,000.

“Working on this project was great,” said Valeri. “Hopefully it will make a very large impact for partners.”

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