17 May 2022

Data is invaluable, but only with action


Mark Twain might have once said, "Data is like garbage. You'd better know what you are going to do with it before you collect it.", and I couldn't agree more.

In my last article, we talked about making sense of your data, but to get real value from your data, you need a digitalised system that drives action.



Have you done it yet?

On a manic shop floor, where the customer rightly takes priority, a lot can and will go wrong. Managers often don’t have time to properly follow-up on incidents, even if they need immediate attention.

If a fridge goes down, the store manager needs someone to identify the problem, save the stock, call maintenance, track the intervention and report back when the unit is repaired.

The law of sod dictates that this will happen on a busy Sunday afternoon, but is it possible to reduce the management burden and still deal with the problem quickly and effectively?


You don’t even need to ask

Using a works management platform for in store processes can automate much of the management burden and provide visibility and control of the process.

Imagine the fridge has gone down on that hectic Sunday. Luckily, an employee has noticed the unit is down, so before they do anything, they use their mobile works management app to report the incident, which automatically alerts the store manager and maintenance.

The manager knows what’s going on, and they also know the maintenance team will be there in 20 minutes. The employee who first spotted the problem has emptied the stock with help from colleagues and recorded this action using a workflow.

Once the fridge is fixed, the manager receives an update confirming the job is done, with photo evidence and a time stamp.

And they have data on how quickly maintenance responded and what was done to help, closing the feedback loop.

This is just one example, but it shows how the humble smart phone can make a store team's life considerably easier by cutting out the chaos.


Sounds great, but what’s the business case?

Here are just some of the ways closing the feedback loop boosts the bottom line:

  • Efficient operations – Less time is spent chasing jobs, managers can focus on improving processes and team members have a clearer course of action for problems.
  • Protects customers – Reduces response times to hazards.
  • Saves money – Insurance premiums will become cheaper as you’ve reduced your insurable risk.
  • Claim defensibility – Compensation claims cost supermarkets millions of pounds every year. Detailed digital data on incidents will make investigations quicker, cheaper and more accurate.
  • Improves the customer experience – Studies show that when a store runs like clockwork and the ambient conditions are comfortable, customers tend to stay longer and spend more.


Culture Shock 

We all know that changing processes has a cultural impact on the workplace, and digitalising store actions is no different.

Greater transparency and accountability will, in my experience, encourage a deeper sense of personal responsibility and a more proactive approach to problems.


And managers will be far less stressed about chasing people around the store to get things done, and can instead spend more time supporting their colleagues and analysing data for improved outcomes.

Reporting and audits are also made far less time-consuming and anxiety-inducing, because you’ll be aware of how well you’re doing on any given metric. Plus, a digital system means you can automate much of the report creation, phew.


Trash into treasure

Mark Twain's garbage aside, in a climate of rising costs and falling retail sales, we all need to find ways of making operations more efficient and holding onto employees.

Works management won’t solve these problems entirely, but it is a critical foundation point for improvement.

Data tells you what needs to be done, but it’s the smart use of software that will ensure you do it. 


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