Five questions to ask your prospective workforce management partner

Retail Connections attended Reflexis’ recent EMEA Customer Forum, and has put together five questions retailers should be asking their prospective workforce management partner.

How do you manage your retail workforce? Maybe you email, print off and circulate Excel spreadsheets, perhaps you’ve moved to Google Docs so you can share online or maybe you still enjoy the old-school allure of pen and paper.

Whatever your method, more and more retailers are looking to maximise the value of their employees with fully digitised workforce management solutions, which automate core activities, such as scheduling, task management and employee self-service, and lots of other additional tasks as well.

As with many digital transformation projects, workforce modernisation solutions make great sense on paper, but to the retailer, the road to adoption and implementation can look fraught with risk and expense.

How then should you choose the best workforce modernisation partner to guide you through this process, and deliver success?  After attending Reflexis’ recent EMEA Customer Forum, Retail Connections has put together the following five questions to ask your prospective workforce management partner:

Will the supplier work with you to produce a meaningful pilot, ensuring smooth implementation?

A major high-street consumer electronics retailer at Reflexis’ Customer Forum said they implemented a comprehensive nine-month pilot programme covering 18 of their 317 stores. Only when the solution worked seamlessly at these branches were they granted ‘centre of excellence’ status by the retailer and then they played a key role in training and sharing best practise with the rest of the retailer’s estate. A programme manager at the retailer said: “We wanted a nine-month pilot. This meant it took longer to roll out the solution, but the pilot ironed out any problems and this made it easier to go to the executive board to fund roll-out because we knew the product worked.”

Are they flexible?

Off-the-shelf workforce management solutions are great, but a cookie-cutter approach is unlikely to fit your requirements like a glove. If you’re willing to invest a little more, it pays to work with a partner who is willing to flex and develop their solution to match your specific requirements.

Savvy suppliers will also appreciate that retailer-requested developments will broaden their solution’s marketability to existing and potential customers – in other words its a win/win situation. A leading high-street retailer said: “Don’t give up if your business needs a specific solution, don’t take no for an answer. For example, we have a huge number of different meal break combinations that we wanted to incorporate into the scheduling module of the solution. We worked closely with our supplier and managed to condense all of these combinations into just three on-screen options for our colleagues to choose from.”

Is simplification the goal?

The ultimate aim of any workforce management partner should be simplification for the end user. A global insights director for an international fast food giant told Reflexis’ Customer Forum: “There’s a real obligation to simplify processes for the end user. We need to work hard to ensure tasks and processes are so straightforward that colleagues can’t get them wrong.”

Simplification also means accessing a range of workforce modernisation modules using one, single user interface rather than shuffling between multiple log-in screens.

Does your supplier have a ‘customer success programme’?

Despite its rather annoying name, after-sales service is incredibly important if you are to continually maximise the benefits of any workforce management solution. There are lots of potential elements that could go into a customer success programme. These can include formal, proactive recurring reviews and a post go-live strategic partnership, to name but a few. Really forward-thinking suppliers will also give their customers access to a network of fellow users so that they can discuss the solution between them.

Does your partner have a UK-based support team?

It sounds like a no-brainer, but choosing a supplier with a UK-based support team, which is readily available during UK office hours, will greatly reduce your stress levels.

This article was produced following the Reflexis EMEA Customer Forum, September, 2018.

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