Stéphane Amiot, General Manager, Europe at One2Team sat down with me to answer a few questions about operational and project performance in retail.
Maha Montana: Stéphane, as a professional in project management and like you do the specific challenges of different business sectors, what do you think about the way in which retailers manage their projects?
Stéphane Amiot: The most worrying thing in retail project management is that a culture of slippage-prone management has taken root as opposed to trying to improve performance in relation to costs and deadlines. It appears that the entire system is organized around disfunctional day-to-day working practices that produce delays and extra costs as if those where normal business byproducts. When comparing with the telecommunications sector – similar in many ways – you realize that telecom companies generally face greater pressure in sticking to deadlines than retailers do. If they fail to meet deadlines, they may find themselves facing penalties, something you rarely come across in the retail industry. Perhaps it is because telecom professionals are better equipped to track events that are caused by delays, and find out their root causes. It is important to highlight that only 20% of retailers use vendor-sourced software that is not Office-based – source European Retail Study 2015!
M.M.: You launched a survey of the largest retailers in Europe on their project deployment practices. Can you tell us a bit more about how you went about doing this?
S.A.: We commissioned Ginger to carry out the survey as we wanted to get a comprehensive picture of the current state of retail deployment projects in Europe. We surveyed 100 of the largest European retailers on their practices and opinions. The results were presented to the public and the press in June, 2015 and published in a report (download the report). We thought it was important to have a solid understanding of the sector given that we are specialists in multi-site deployment management.
M.M.: Some of the challenges retailers encounter in their projects and operations are related to multi-site considerations. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
S.A.: For years, One2Team has been working with, and for, stakeholders running multi-site projects, such as hubs in telecommunications and stores in retail. That means we have a good grasp of the challenges they face.
Given the geographic distance and dispersion among sites, it is difficult to get a good idea of what is happening at each job site, to collaborate effectively with all those involved and to generate accurate progress reports in real time. And yet, obtaining real-time information is vital if companies need to take action to resolve issues that are slowing progress. Dealing with such issues a month later at the steering committee or during an impromptu site visit, as is currently mostly done, does not make sense.
The second challenge involves replicating the projects may times over. Multi-site deployment requires a deployment kit. It is vital to create a deployment kit for each project, a kind of specifications, if you will, which is shared by all sites in order to take advantage of the savings generated by pooled orders. On the other hand, you need to account for the granular distinction between that which should be shared by all projects and that which can or should be specific, to cater more effectively to the local market of a specific store, for example. In other words, it is all about being agile.
M.M.: 20% of European retailers today say that they have project management software solution. Do you think this is likely to change?
S.A.: As things stand, the majority of time expended in multi-site operations is spent gathering information as opposed to making decisions. Time allocation is very inefficient in terms of value creation. It ultimately results in collaboration issues, since there is no real synchronization process aside the usual committees and meetings. Teams find themselves bogged down dealing with disruptive change initiatives, such as, for example, a rebranding or remodeling project with between 600 and 800 additional deployment operations to carry out. They struggle to get through without significantly exceeding the original deadlines and costs.
Furthermore, in large organizations, the cult of pilot projects is prevalent and agility is nowhere to be found. It is already tricky to deploy a single kit, so it is unthinkable for them to deploy several variants of the same concept across stores. So yes, at a time when retailers face time-to-market challenges and pressures to deliver profits to survive, tools are vital to ramp up deployments without wasting cash, while getting the necessary tools that foster the agility needed to adapt to consumers and respond to the competition.
M.M.: Out of all the retailers you have helped over the past few years, which projects are you most proud of?
S.A.: Since the emergence of vendors specializing in multi-site retail project management, we have won numerous great references in the field. Noteworthy projects include the deployment of Super and Hypermarket multi-channel and sales projects with Carrefour, the coordination of restaurant renovation and opening projects with La Brioche Dorée, the coordination of in-store concept deployment with Orange, and the deployment of new shop brands for the Monoprix chain. You can actually watch a testimonial video from the Technical Director of Monoprix, Jean-Marie Roueche.
M.M.: Thank you, Stéphane!
S.A.: Thank you!
Stéphane has operating and business responsibility for all European One2Team business. Prior to joining One2Team, Stéphane was Vice President and Managing Director at CEB, a leading SaaS talent measurement solution. Before CEB, Stéphane held executive and consulting positions at Taleo and Michael Page in Europe.