I’m guessing a lack of information isn’t a problem for you as a retailer. It’s knowing what to do with it and how to make sense of it that can be overwhelming.
Aside from the archival library of logbooks you've had accumulating in the back of the store since 1995, you've probably got data from your HVAC, your customer service team, contractors and possibly even sensors if you've invested in some of the newer tech on the market.
No, the problem isn’t a lack of data but, rather, a lack of insight and action. You need a system that pulls this vast volume of data from disparate sources into one place and makes sense of it all.
The employee who carried out the check fills in the logbook and this gets put into a filing cabinet in the back-office until further notice.
We know at this point it may as well have been put down the memory-hole or shot into space for all its usefulness.
And the problems with paper don't stop there. Having to digitalise it by typing it all into a database is horrendously inefficient, and the quality of this data is often questionable at best.
Even the most diligent employees can make mistakes when they're on the busy shop floor, and without a greater appreciation for the importance of compliance data, it can be all too tempting to simply copy the previous entry when it's convenient.
And for large retailers with hundreds or thousands of sites, the cost and environmental impact of using this much paper is pretty eye-watering.
Inefficiencies aside, the worst thing about your paper logbooks is that all this data is underutilised and not well-understood.
Without the efforts of a back-office team, analytics and reporting, you have no real idea how compliant a store is, what your pain points are and how you're going to do in your next Safe and Legal Audit.
You don't really know anything until something goes wrong.
Digitalise your data
One solution to this compliance quagmire is to digitalise the data gathering process using a mobile workflow app.
This means you can digitalise every logbook, ad-hoc job and process you have, and put it straight on a smart phone.
Employees can use the app to prove checks are done at the right time, in the right place and with the right data.
And this data gets sent straight to your analytics platform of choice, meaning no arduous data entry tasks and more time to consider how best to display this information, and who needs to see it.
Not just a digital form
Investing in this tech is critical, not just because it makes gathering and structuring logbook data easier, but because, with the right platform behind it, you can encourage insight and drive actions.
This platform acts as one source of the truth that can handle huge amounts of data from hundreds of logbooks, sensors, audit scores and more, instead of this valuable information disappearing into dead-end silos.
Crucially, the platform should take advantage of Power BI to provide everyone from store managers to stakeholders the information they need to maximise efficiency and spot areas for improvement.
At this point you are fully utilising all those once disconnected streams of data to give you a full picture of what's really going on.
Why is this important? Because when you have access to all your information in one place, you can spot trends, identify pain points and change cultural behaviour based on what’s really going on in-store, rather than trusting to guesswork and gut feel. In short, it enables you to leverage the true value of the data you already collect.
In my next article, we’ll talk about closing the feedback loop on remedial actions, and why being able to track this has substantial benefits.