Bringing digital skills and thinking into Leading the Way

We know that store colleagues can sometimes find it difficult to get the information they need to do their jobs. Whether it’s hiring a team member or loading a bakery price gun, it’s taking valuable time out of the day and making things generally harder than they need to be.

So we’ve formed a team in Co-op Digital, working with colleagues in Food, to build a new digital product to solve the problem. It’s all part of our ‘Leading the Way’ programme. This product has a working title at the moment, of ‘How to do things in Food stores’. (Got a better name? Answers on a postcard, no citrus fruits please…)

Making things easier to find and understand

First of all we’re taking content from Citrus, the intranet, and anywhere else we can find it, about how to do things in a store, and we’re putting it all in one place. We want our information to be easy to locate with a navigation structure that reflects how store colleagues think about things, and to make searching easier.

We know that Citrus’ search doesn’t work. We also know that our colleagues in store (along with millions across the world) are using Google to find things out in their day-to-day lives. So we want to build something for the Co-op that meets those expectations and does the job it needs to do.

But we’re also making our content easy to read and understand, when it hasn’t always been that way in the past. This is important for everyone: for colleagues who have been with us for over 20 years, as well as for colleagues who might be new, or have English as a second language.

Building digital skills and thinking

As well as building a product, we’re helping to bring digital skills and thinking into Leading the Way. What do we mean by that? Well, a few things…

Working in multidisciplinary teams

Often, companies are organised into functions – marketing, operations, IT. Those teams sit together in their functions, and interact with other functional departments in working groups or steering groups or other groups.

photograph showing part of our multidisciplinary team around a whiteboard.

At Co-op Digital, we work in cross-functional teams every day. Rather than having a team of software developers and a team of designers, each team is a product team made up of lots of different roles. We have an interaction designer, a user researcher, a content designer, a delivery manager, a product manager, and a few software developers too. We all work together and use our expertise in different areas to work quickly. No more waiting for the weekly meeting to find out that something isn’t technically possible, or that a user told us that something didn’t make sense. And we’re collaborating closely with our colleagues in Food – we have 5 colleagues from stores helping us to write content, and a subject-matter expert who is running the workstream, too.

Putting users first

photograph of our work on a white board. main message says: how to do things in Food store. Start with user needs.

The users of the product are more important than the people building it or the business. Those users could be anyone, but in this situation, we think it’s primarily colleagues in stores, and colleagues who work at OSS. We want to learn about how this fits into a user’s life, and what their needs are. For example, we know that a lot of our policy content is quite long at the moment – and we think that really, colleagues go to look up a policy or a procedure when they want to do something. That means we want to give you the information you need at the point you need it – not to have to trawl through lots of irrelevant words.

We’ve seen this kind of thinking in action all the way across Leading the Way, and the way the test and trial process works means that all ideas are getting tested by users before they’re implemented across all stores.

Short feedback loops

Those users I just mentioned…well, in this instance, that’s you: colleagues in stores. We go out into stores often and show colleagues what we’re doing. Usually we’ll show 5 colleagues what we’re working on every 2 weeks. We’ll sit down with a colleague, show them what we’re working on, and ask open-ended questions about what they’re seeing on screen.

photograph from one of our show and tells.

Getting that frequent feedback means we can improve what we’re doing. If no one can find the search box when we show them the website, we can move it, and make sure it is easier to find next time.

What’s next

We’ve given the web address to about 5 stores so far, but there’s not much content on there yet. When we have some more, we’ll be sharing it with more stores. We’ll keep on talking to people in stores across the country to get feedback and insight. It’s been brilliant to meet so many people in stores so far, and we’re looking forward to delivering something that makes life easier for our colleagues.

Anna Goss
Product Lead

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