How Okta helped boohoo keep pace with rapid growth

Dorothy Perkins, Burton, Wallis, Debenhams: the British high street has lost a number of big-name brands in recent years. But while their physical stores may have disappeared, their digital offerings have been snapped up by online fashion retailer boohoo. Add to that list of acquisitions Oasis, Warehouse, Coast, Karen Millen, Pretty Little Thing, Nasty Gal and Miss Pap, and the dizzying speed of boohoo’s recent growth becomes clear.

The scale of boohoo’s expansion is matched only by the size of the challenge for their IT team to integrate these organisations into’s platforms and systems. Held back by time-consuming, manual processes, boohoo realised that in order to keep pace with their own rapid growth, their legacy infrastructure would need an overhaul. 

A journey of self-discovery 

boohoo approached Bytes, a leading Okta software licensing partner, in search of a solution that would automate their access management processes, freeing up their IT team to focus on more productive work. Bytes identified Okta as a potential solution, and after benchmarking Okta’s performance against those of their competitors, boohoo’s Head of Technology, Leroy McAdjar, was convinced.

“We felt Okta stood out due to its capabilities,” he says. “For example, we were previously unable to authenticate onto our VPN, so we were very keen to secure access with a zero-trust model. Okta allowed us to authenticate against our Active Directory, so that we knew users were who they said they were, which was really beneficial.”

Leroy describes the implementation process with Okta’s Professional Services as a “journey of self-discovery”. “We had a range of prerequisites internally,” he explains, “such as what we needed to do with our OU structure in our Active Directory, and how we wanted the data to look within our core HR. Implementing Okta gave us a real insight into our infrastructure, how we operate and how we want the data to function going forward.”

Looking through a single pane of glass

As a result of boohoo’s fast expansion, one of Leroy’s main priorities was being able to maintain system security while granting access for their rapidly expanding workforce. Okta’s Workforce Identity Cloud solutions enabled boohoo’s service operations and site security teams to see everything through a single pane of glass. This allowed them to assess human behaviour to ensure that if a user was logging in from a particular location, they were genuine. 

Growing at pace

A rapidly growing workforce presented a significant challenge for boohoo’s onboarding process. Previously, an HR member would have to manually create a new account in boohoo’s HR system for every new starter. One of Leroy’s team would then integrate the user into the infrastructure, manually granting access to any apps required for their role. It was a laborious and time-consuming process, and when it came to integrating larger organisations, such as Debenhams, with thousands of new users to be onboarded in a short space of time, it placed enormous strain on Leroy’s team, dragging them away from other important tasks. 

Now, with Okta’s HR as a Master (HRaaM) and LCM capabilities, an HR team member simply has to log a new starter, along with their leaving date, and the rest of the process is fully automated, going into boohoo’s ITSM tool without any intervention, before automatically disabling access on the day an employee leaves. 

“This automation frees my team from the mundane stuff,” explains Leroy, “which allows them to put their time and energy into more complex work, or to shift their focus to things they are more interested in, such as learning and development.”

Firm foundations for future growth

As boohoo continues to grow, Okta service reviews use trending and analysis to help Leroy’s team understand how they can make the most of Okta solutions to streamline their processes further. For Leroy, this “transparent, honest relationship” is a key part of future-proofing boohoo’s infrastructure:

“With acquisitions, you often take on some technical debt, which you need to address down the line. So going forward into the next acquisition, what can we do to make our foundations stronger? It’s very important for us that Okta are entwined with our strategy; that they are aware of our roadmap and how they can feed into that.” 

Part of that roadmap involves clamping down on bot traffic and unauthorised accounts across all boohoo platforms, with the help of Okta's Customer Identity Cloud, to ensure customers are who they say they are. 

Ultimately, for Leroy, it’s all part of providing a better quality of service for their customers, and ensuring that, no matter how many brands boohoo acquire, they will never go out of fashion.

Want to hear more about how Okta helped secure boohoo's growth journey? Watch Leroy's session at Oktane22 on-demand here.