Crawl-Walk-Run to Distribution Labor Management Success

Crawl-Walk-Run to Labor Management

Labor Management System (LMS) implementations are often considered a technical challenge.  Often overlooked, however, is the cultural change component that requires a patient, phased implementation approach.  LMS implementations require IT integration and engineering effort to ‘go-live’, but what sets them apart from other technology enablers is that they are truly a people-centric program focused on your most important asset – your workforce.   To achieve long-term, sustained success we typically advise companies follow a crawl – walk – run strategy for their labor management journey.

Crawl

The crawl phase is all about the basics.  Many core operational practices can be developed or updated well in advance of going “live” with an LMS.  One such example that many companies miss, is to prepare the workplace and standardize work methods.  This is where time tested Lean approaches such as workplace organization (5-S) and standardized work methods can yield significant improvements; often in the range of 5-15% improvement.  The largest intangible benefit is that by engaging the workforce and physically improving the workplace and work methods, the culture begins to change.  This paves the way for positive change and develops momentum for a successful labor management adoption.

Walk

Once the foundation is in place, goals and expectations need to be established to track progress.  A simple way to start this process is to develop “Reasonable Expectations” (RE).  An RE is an expression of work output in units of measure per hour (e.g. cases per hour, units per hour, or pallets per hour).  The major benefit of REs is that they are easy for managers, supervisors and associates to understand.

Once Reasonable Expectations are determined and understood by supervision, employees can begin to be held accountable.  Implementing initial REs allows supervisors to build proficiency in holding employees accountable to more specific output expectations.  Supervision should start by focusing on observing compliance to standard work methods, as opposed to immediately focusing on a number.  This coaching shows employees that supervision is committed to their success and builds a deeper level of trust and engagement.

After employees are making improvements through adherence to standard work methods and performance feedback, the REs can be used to build simple staffing models to better predict the requirements of the business.  Many times, this is as far as many organizations need to go.

Run

Companies that have properly prepared themselves through the crawl – walk phase are positioned to take the next step in the journey by utilizing an LMS technology solution for improved planning and reporting.  Though, it should not be taken lightly as many companies struggle, and even stop mid-implementation due to underestimating the technical and cultural challenges.  Careful planning, cross-functional involvement and project management are essential to ensure a successful implementation.

In this phase where technology is introduced, transparent communication is critical for complete buy in.  Everyone impacted should have regular touch points and be brought along through the project for a smooth implementation.  To achieve fair and accurate individual performance expectations, Engineered Labor Standards (ELS) are typically developed and travel is configured in the LMS.  This allows the LMS to dynamically track the accurately credit an individual associate for the work that they complete.  Associates should be actively engaged in this development process so they understand what is included in their performance expectation.

A key component of the implementation is to thoroughly test and validate the system results prior to going live.  The validation process should include the operations team to transfer knowledge of how the system is structured.    This ensures they understand how the system generates performance and the accuracy of the results.  A rushed implementation that does not thoroughly test the LMS and include the operations team in the process risks losing complete confidence of the standards and reports.

Lastly, Supervision must be trained on providing effective performance coaching conversations. Rather than simply letting someone know they are not meeting the expectation, individual performance management coaching helps associates understand the specific reasons for not meeting performance expectations and, more importantly, how to improve.  When performed correctly, coaching is the key to improving overall performance.

Labor Management System implementations can result in an improved, fair and equitable work environment, lower turnover, and productivity increases of 15-30%.  These results are not automatic and require investments of time and money to achieve savings.  Think of a LMS like a gym membership – you only get out of it what you put into it.  If you want to positively change the culture and achieve long term success, you need to develop a roadmap to reach your goals – a roadmap that goes from crawl to walk to run.

Does 1 Second Really Matter?

Occasionally I have been asked to justify why anyone in retail would need engineered labor standards. The arguments go something like,

• “Does one second vs one and a half seconds really make a difference?”
• “Most scheduling systems round labor anyway”
• “At the end of the day, operators have to schedule to the budget, not to labor standards”.

The basis of these questions is probably related to a bad experience trying to implement a pile of over-engineered labor standards that were handed off with little context or considerations for the end use. I know this because it happened to me back in my workforce management software implementation days. I have seen over engineering and incomplete labor engineering — typically from consulting firms whose primary services are focused elsewhere.

Labor standards should not be thought of as over-engineered time studies that split the hairs of time and are not compatible with environments that operate more fluidly. They are precise and accurate calculations, true, but in retail practice they should be viewed as a means to a more operationally productive end.

Engineered labor standards are the basis for achieving operational excellence. They are about understanding the workload required to effectively and efficiently operate your stores to make your workforce more productive. The information and insight they provide can lead to substantial gains in labor savings and lead to increased profitability. In most cases our clients are able to reinvest savings from inefficient tasking work to customer service and selling. Labor standards can also help make workforce management scheduling systems more accurate and work toward sharpening the budget – not blowing it.

So back to the original question – “Does one second really matter?” The answer is that you are asking the wrong question. The question should be, “Do labor standards really improve my operations?” The answer to that question, that we have seen over and over again across our clients, is emphatically “YES!”.

More to come on operational excellence and top-line growth…..

Reflexis Systems, Inc. and Connors Group Partner to Bring Operational Efficiency to Retailers

Reflexis and Connors Group Partner to Help Retailers Enhance Workforce Productivity, Improve Associate Engagement, and Provide the Best Possible Customer Service.

NRF Big Show 2017

Reflexis: Booth #1521

Connors Group: Booth #936

DEDHAM, Mass. and PITTSBURGH, Penn, January 4, 2017: Reflexis Systems, Inc. today announced a partnership with global retail management consulting firm Connors Group. Together, Reflexis and Connors Group will help retailers across all verticals, including grocery, QSR, convenience, specialty, big box, and apparel, achieve significantly faster return on investment and drive cultural adoption leading to sustained benefits throughout the organization. Through more comprehensive implementations, Retailers will enable their teams to enhance the store experience for customers and improve store operations.

“Connors Group partners with retailers every step of the way; helping assess their challenges, implement solutions, and optimize their technology suites,” says Chris Kelly, Director, Connors Group. “Through our partnership with Reflexis, we’ll help retailers understand the benefits and ROI of implementing Reflexis workforce management and real-time store operations software, provide expertise in project management and labor standards, and help retailers continue to extract additional value from their solutions over time.”

“I have been continually impressed with the level of professionalism, knowledge, and expertise that Connors Group has brought to every interaction,” says Brett Walker, Vice President, Global Alliances and Solution Consulting, Reflexis Systems. “It’s exciting to formalize a partnership with such a reputable and trustworthy company. Our joint efforts will be focused on helping retailers obtain the highest levels of benefits from our world-class solutions.”

About Connors Group
Founded in 2008, Connors Group is a global retail management consulting firm with deep experience across all retail verticals including grocery, QSR, convenience, specialty, big box, and apparel. We partner with leading retailers to improve and sustain operational efficiencies, workforce performance, customer experience, associate engagement, and top-line sales.

Our dedicated team of experienced consultants has its roots in workforce improvement, possesses extensive field experience, and is credited with developing cutting edge workforce management tools and proven methodologies for long-term operational success. We build trusted partnerships and often serve as an extension of our clients’ teams for ongoing project work.

Connors Group, LLC. is privately held and headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has additional offices in Atlanta, Denver, and New York. For more information, visit www.connorsllc.com.

About Reflexis Systems, Inc.
Reflexis is the pioneer in real-time store operations and workforce management solutions that enable retailers to carry out their customer engagement strategy flawlessly and uncover profit. The Reflexis platform of real-time store operations, task management, KPI/compliance, time and attendance, and labor scheduling (including budgeting, forecasting, and employee self-service) enables retailers to align store labor/activities to corporate goals and institutionalize best-practice response to real-time metrics and alerts.

For the past 15 years, more than 200 of the world’s best companies in multiple vertical categories such as retail, hospitality, and Quick Serve Restaurants have reported dramatic improvements in compliance with corporate strategies; higher productivity of corporate, field, and store employees; and increased revenue and profitability after implementing Reflexis workforce management and real-time store operations solutions. Reflexis StorePulse® (patent pending) synchronizes activities with real-time KPIs, alerts, and customer demand. Stores, hotels, and restaurants can systemically implement best practices to provide a greater quality of customer engagement, leading to higher revenues.

Reflexis Systems, Inc. is privately held and headquartered in Dedham, Massachusetts and has offices in Atlanta, London, Germany, and India, with additional sales offices in Latin America and Europe. For more information, visit www.reflexisinc.com. Follow Reflexis on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and Instagram: LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Google+ | Instagram

Contacts:
Reflexis Systems, Inc.
David L. Andrews, (781) 493-3351
Director of Marketing Communications
[email protected]

OP Choudhary, 44 (0) 1256 857310
Head of Operations, EMEA
[email protected]

Connors Group, LLC
Chris Kelly, (724) 518-1727
Director
[email protected]