Today’s retail environment is tough. Shrinking budgets, layoffs, consolidation, and demanding construction schedules mean that you have to do more with less time, less money, and less staff. To get stores designed, built, renovated and maintained on time and on budget, it is highly critical to work smarter than your competitors and stay connected with the three core elements of effective retailing – people, process and technology (PPT).
People – What are the key issues: who owns the process, who is involved, what are their roles, are they committed to improving it and working together and importantly are they prepared to do the work to fix the problem. It is important to stay connected with retail professionals in the industry to maintain a good talent rate. The industry needs to focus on maturity of their human practices, guide a program of continuous human resource management, focus on improving individual and team capabilities, integrate people process improvement with business process improvement, establish a culture of performance and professional excellence and align human resource strategies with business goals. Also we have ignored the knowledge creation or research aspect of our educational system for too long. Creating a culture of research and innovation requires a significant commitment and a long-term view from all stakeholders. This is a fantastic example of an industry-academia linkage and is necessary to create the next generation of knowledge workers. This global initiative will certainly provide a path to success for companies worldwide through new business initiatives related to performance excellence.
While we accept that most of today’s retail businesses are talent driven and that people are our biggest assets, historically, (at least with IT) organisations have focused more on proactively improving their delivery processes and their investments in technology. In fact, the current global hue-and-cry on talent shortfalls and high attrition rates in the retail industry are only the tip of the iceberg. At the business level, there are imperatives like improving productivity, moving-up the value chain, enhancing competitiveness and getting closer to the customers. At the organisation level, issues like managing a multi-cultural and multi-geographical workforce, managing rapid growth and creating “cool” work cultures continue to take a large mind-share of business leaders and HR professionals. All this, while today’s professional is trying to get multi-skilled and chart a clear career path for himself/herself.
Process – A process can be defined as starting with a trigger event that creates a chain of actions that result in something being prepared for a customer of that process. Starting at a high level and identifying the key big steps is important to see the process from end to end; then moving into more detail to capture the various layers involved and various exceptions. Focusing on the high frequency transactions (Pareto principle) can have significant benefits to standardising the process. But also remember that it can be the non-standard transactions where service is slipping most, or the potential for significant failure in the process may exist.
Technology – Now that people are aligned, and the processes developed are clarified, technology can be applied to ensure consistency in application of the process and to provide the thin guiding rails to keep the process on track – to make it easier to follow the process than not do so. Of course there is much more to getting a technology project right – but get the above three sorted out and you will be a fair way down the path to achieving business success.
By aligning the above core elements, organisations will get enabled to gain insight into its capability for managing and developing its workforce. Retail organisations need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their current human resource management practices in order to understand what steps should be taken to improve them. The organisation can then relate its strengths and weaknesses of its practices with the best practices indicated in the model, which helps the organisation to prioritise their improvement actions and focus on changes that are most beneficial in the near term while having a roadmap for the long term objective.