The retail sector has faced many challenges in recent years. The hangover left by the pandemic and supply chain issues was starting to clear, before inflationary pressures delivered another hammer blow to the sector at the beginning of last year. Increased costs for businesses, coupled with decreased consumer spending power have persisted, meaning it is essential that retailers look to optimise efficiency where possible. The big question then asks, how can this be achieved?
Well, process redesign – the evaluation and reengineering of the key activities and methods within an organisation – can streamline your entire business if completed correctly . If carried out for the wrong reasons, however, process redesign can be a costly exercise that bears little results. In this blog, we look at how you should answer 9 questions to ensure successful delivery of process optimisation, helping retailers to eliminate inefficiencies and lower costs, whilst protecting the customer experience and avoiding common pitfalls.
1. What are you trying to achieve?
It sounds simple, but what exactly are the drivers behind the redesign?
Putting in the effort upfront to determine this will obviously guide process engineering when it comes to it, but really questioning what you are trying to achieve ahead of commencing any analysis also provides the lens through which you can approach current processes. This could involve workshopping the problem statement or defining high-level benefits from the offset. Outcomes do not have to be quantified to begin with, nor do they have to be entirely fixed, but embarking on the work with some clear, concise objectives upfront will help to drive focus and engage stakeholders from the start. It is far easier to get to an answer once you know the exam question you’re trying to solve.
2. What’s in it for the customer?
Answering question one with “improved customer experience” is not enough. You need to be specific.
Ultimately it is the customer that makes any business tick. Efficient internal processes have minimal impact on overall business performance if they do not deliver this value to the end customer. The customer should therefore be at the centre of any process redesign efforts. Customers in the current retail market are highly mobile, with increasing CX demands. Any process redesign that doesn’t continually ask “what’s in it for the customer?” will deliver limp results.
3. Who do you need to speak to?
Whilst easy to gloss over, real thought and consideration should be put into this step. Engagement should be as broad as budgets and timelines allow, covering employees at all levels of the business and considering the full customer journey.
Managers will have a different perspective to those doing the day-to-day and therefore both should be consulted, separately if needs be. Process redesign can spark nervousness, so people need to feel comfortable and engaged – building trust across the whole business is essential to successfully identifying what needs to change. Often the best insights can come from those people who no one else stopped to ask.
4. What is the as-is?
Once you understand what you are trying to achieve in the future, and who needs to be involved, attention should turn to what is currently in place.
Do not redesign as you go. Instead, focus on gaining a comprehensive understanding of how tasks, information, and resources flow within your organisation. Encourage people to be as open as they can. Processes may be mapped, but is that what happens day-to-day? You should use a range of methods to evaluate the as-is, including interviews, shadowing, and data analysis. A fresh perspective can uncover some home truths that can drive success in your redesign.
5. How will the redesign enable cross-functional collaboration?
The best process redesigns break down silos and foster collaboration across departments.
You should have a view of your organisations’ key end-to-end processes, understand where more detailed processes sit within these, and how teams, departments, or geographies interact. Encourage open communication and collaboration between teams to identify process dependencies and optimise handoffs (find out more about process dependencies in this blog). Similarly with people, you also need to understand the interaction between different systems. Consider a holistic view of the whole technology infrastructure, focusing on the systems and data sources that will help you to get to a single version of the truth in future. If you take the view that both your systems and your people should talk to one another and work together, then your redesign will be on the right track for success.
6. How will technology be embraced?
“Technology can help improve productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction by optimising business processes and overhauling existing systems. This can also positively impact the business’s viability and advantage against competitors.” (InfosysBPM).
Understanding your technology is one thing, but ensuring new and old systems are truly embraced by the business is no easy task.
We all know that selecting the right technology for your business can be an effective way of streamlining processes, but it is a lot more complicated than picking the shiniest bit of kit. Automation, AI, and advanced CRM and ERP solutions will enable retailers to succeed, but only if they consider the people impacts and training needs of end users. To realise the efficiencies through tech you will need to bring your people along with you too. Change management, therefore, needs to be considered early and throughout the reengineering process and not as an afterthought. Find out more about tech select here.
7. How will key metrics be measured?
The success of the redesign should not be measured as one big bang at the end.
Metrics need to be established early and with clear owners so you know what you’re working towards, tracking progress regularly, and evaluating success as changes are being made. Establish KPIs to monitor the redesign’s effectiveness and track key metrics such as cycle time, customer satisfaction, order accuracy, and employee productivity. Remember, what’s in it for the customer is the central question to answer. Your metrics should answer this to determine the project’s success.
8. How will you celebrate success?
Process redesign can be a difficult change to manage. It requires the time and effort of a large group of stakeholders, who may have their own concerns on how they will be impacted by the change.
Effectively communicating with these groups is integral to a successful project. Once you have your metrics in place, keep employees informed about the progress, changes, and expected outcomes of the redesign. When outcomes are achieved, celebrate these. If people feel involved and can see tangible results, they will be more engaged, motivated and committed to keep going.
9. Iterate and improve!
Not a question, but a must if you want your process redesign to have a lasting impact. Embrace a culture of continuous improvement, where feedback and lessons learned drive further refinements.
Regularly review and update processes based on changing market dynamics, customer feedback, and emerging technologies. By encouraging a culture of iteration and innovation within your organisation, you will embed a continuous improvement mindset, where processes evolve as with the market, your business, and your customers.
How can you ensure that these questions are answered and implemented successfully?
At Nine Feet Tall, we understand all things operational efficiency and process redesign. We work with our clients across the retail sector to ensure that we build capability and deliver lasting change, enabling organisations to land operational improvements and iterate processes in the long-run.
If you would like advice or support on how to successfully deliver process redesign, then please get in touch.