HHTs – The best Christmas present ever!

I’m Kevin – I’m SM of the Innerleithen Store in Scotland. I’ve worked for the Co-op for the last 10 years, starting in store when I was just 17.

Kevin at Innerleithen
Kevin at Innerleithen

Looking back, I remember being so excited for our new HHTs to arrive. I’d been reading the posts on Social Media, seeing Chris Whitfield post pictures of what they would look and feel like. My colleagues and I were buzzing with excitement, imagining all of the amazing features that we hoped they would have.

When they landed, they did not disappoint. It felt like Christmas; the engineer’s arrival was more exciting than hearing Santa’s sleigh land on my roof when I was a young child. A cool £7million investment into our future, making our lives quicker and much simpler.

On the day they arrived there was a queue of colleagues waiting to use our new HHTs – the only queue I’ve ever been happy to see. Nadine, Hilda and Sharon were all desperate to go out and complete our reductions and price checks; wanting to experience the new functions, the speed and the layout. Sharon couldn’t believe how much faster they were. I was so excited to give them a try – I sat like a kid at Christmas waiting for my parents to tell me I could open my first present.

At 3:01pm on the dot, an excited Hilda came bounding up to me to show me the new reduction process. They were so excited by how much sleeker the menus were to navigate; how much easier it was to select a printer; how much faster they were and the most instant and noticeable… No more wheel of death when trying to log in.

I felt and saw a wave of relief sweep through the store team. At this point I was still desperate to get my hands on one. I had never been so desperate to do a gap scan…

I flew round the shop catching gaps, (And even deleting gaps that I had scanned in error). I was completely taken aback at the simplicity of it all. Everything a Store Manager had ever wanted for their teams was here. I printed, actioned and filled my gaps on a high. That was me hooked. What else could I do? There was only one option… Price checking. I was praying for a huge section like wines. But I got something even better… Health and beauty. I felt like all my Christmases had come at once, (Quite literally as we got top shelves the day before and headsets were due in the day after). 250 products later, I found myself bounding round my management team telling them how much better the new HHTs were. The speed was unreal. Less than 5 minutes to check all those products. I think it was the first time I’d ever heard a team leader say they were jealous about doing tasks.

Two months later I still get the same buzz. All the frustration of crashing guns, constant reboots and wheel of death are now gone; things that seems so minor but mean so much to my store team. We know there are still some changes which need to be made to improve efficiency even more, but all in all we’re thrilled with the new HHTs. The time we’re now saving on completing these tasks means we can do more of what we at the Co-op do best – serving our customers and our members better and creating room for us to engage with our communities.

I’m sure all of my fellow colleagues out there in our stores will join me in saying a massive thank you to everyone involved in making this project happen. Something like this is truly what Being Co-op is all about.

The present is now here, next stop – the future

Hi, I’m Andy and I’m the Solution Lead on the tablet project. I was part of the team that designed and implemented those shiny new tablets (that are hopefully all fully working and being used by everyone in your stores). It was my job to make the things people wanted possible and politely tell them when it wasn’t. I am sure you have had the sales pitch and the use cases, the testimonials and the straplines, but I just wanted to give you all a bit of my own view from Retail IT on what we were thinking about as we worked with the Leading the Way team to drag our IT kit into the modern era.

Tablets1
The new store tablet being used in the warehouse

Full disclosure: when I first started working on this project a year ago, I didn’t see the point, being a natural cynic and ironically fairly stuck in my ways when it comes to change, my instinct was that we were simply putting in technology for technology’s sake. Our first prototype didn’t bring much to the table, despite being designed to take you away from it! What changed my mind was getting to see what we had in the pipeline. When I got to work with the first set of Store Managers, heard the things they wanted, and realised that over the next few years with IT and RSC working together we could deliver everything they want, I was finally sold. Trust me when I say that twelve months goes a lot quicker when you believe in what you are working on, and I am extremely proud to have been involved in bringing you your store tablet. Our project team have built the platform we need to deliver the future to you in the palm of your hands (or over the shoulder with the strap – don’t knock it until you’ve tried it for a day).

Modern ways of working need modern tools, and we have some pretty cool tools coming your way in the next few years. I think it’s fair to say even the most tech-averse amongst us (you know who you are) are ducks in water with a tablet or phone. My four year old daughter can use it (don’t tell anyone she has one, though) but no matter how much I try to teach her to log into Incontrol – she just doesn’t get it (might be best we don’t tell anyone she has a back office server, either).

Tablets on Twitter
One of our Stores of Excellence gets to grips with the new tablet

To the cynics out there – like I was – you may see this device and think about the things that it does not do, but this is just the start – think about the things it can and will do with your help. I am a big fan of crowdsourcing, which is why one of the first things I put on the dashboard was the “your ideas” link. Let people know what you think – you can keep the positivity for twitter if you want – just help us to make it an even better product for you all to use.

Simplifying governance in Food

Who are we

The Governance & Assurance team are part of the Transformation function in the Retail Support Centre. We look after the governance landscape across Food for the change portfolio – programmes (big, multiple initiatives) and projects (single initiatives) that are in progress and the new ones that come out the Strategic Planning Cycle

Carousel
Image credit: flickr.com/duaneschoon

We’ve been listening

From your feedback, we’ve heard that there are plenty of opportunities in how we run governance across Food. At its heart, governance is about making the right decisions for the business in an efficient and effective way. Unfortunately, and partly due to our business’ complexity, we’ve found that:

  1. It’s not always clear how to get stuff done – the landscape can be daunting and often doesn’t have a clear route to decision/roll out.
  2. Governance groups can have conflicting interests and priorities – leading to colleagues becoming stuck in a governance ‘carousel’.
  3. Even when we agree that we want to do something, it can take a long time to get through the mechanics of governance – which risks expected benefits and can test the resilience of project teams!

All of these issues have come about from people trying to do the right thing for our colleagues, members and customers, but it does slow us down. We’ve looked at some examples like ‘Top Shelves’ within the Leading the Way programme. A simple project to fit some extra shelving in our stores, which helps colleagues with product availability for our members & customers. Despite it being something our competitors do and the business has endorsed, we had a series of governance and decision delays which meant rather than finishing the project to plan at the end of July, we’re a couple of months behind with nearly 600 stores completed so far.

What we’re going to do

Our role is to make governance effective. If designed and used well, governance is invaluable and can help speed up the change we want to do, and ensure it lands well.

Whilst all of our current processes are important and protect the Co-op, there’s too many or too much duplication, which adds time, effort and money to the delivery of our change plans. We’ll therefore be doing a sprint over the next 5 weeks to simplify and strengthen the governance process, as well as laying the foundations for best practice.

What our new landscape will look like

Keyword – simple! With defined roadmaps or even motorways, traffic lights, signs – a set destination, we’ll know when we’ll get there and there’s a clear view of progress along the way. We’ll do this by…

  • Mapping out the current decision-making landscape so we can identify common pinch points and opportunities for simplification.
  • Making sure the right people are in the room and we’re making the most effective use of our time – so we do what’s best for our Co-op and we spend members’ money like it’s our own.
  • Developing a compelling narrative, with insight from colleagues, members and customers, suppliers and partners. Helping stakeholders better understand a particular initiative, so they can make informed decisions at the right time.
  • Moving towards one simple set of templates to avoid the effort that goes into the multitude of decks and packs we create.
  • Updating on progress, with clear visibility of the risks involved, so stakeholders can apply rigour and keep us safe & legal.

 

How can I get involved?

The Exec have put forward functional partners to work with and we’re engaging across the business to gather inputs. We’ll be sharing plans and ‘how tos’ as part of an easy to use Governance portal after we’ve shared our ideas with the Exec.

In the meantime, we’re really keen to engage with those colleagues who have experience or an interest in this area, and we’d love to hear from you at retailgovernance@coop.co.uk

The Food Transformation team have joined with the Retail Support Centre

It’s been a busy few weeks of change for all in the Food Transformation team, which is something that they’re used to… because they’re the people that look after the Co-op’s large portfolio of change activity for Food and Retail.

Their job is to ensure everyone is aligned, ready to receive the changes, and ultimately to make stores a great place to work for colleagues, easy for members and customers to shop in and build a Co-op for the next generation of members.

These are exciting times for the new joined up team. We’ve all worked together before and, along with colleagues from across the Co-op, we’ve helped to develop some great digital products: ‘How do I’ and ‘Shifts’. With the Transformation team alongside the Retail Support Centre team, we can be confident of developing further initiatives, bringing our expertise together to help achieve our ambition of a Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities for the future.

There are three main focus areas for the Transformation office:

First, the Governance team works across the Co-op to identify potential new programmes and projects, then helps the Transformation team decide which to do. After that they keep everybody honest, so the Food Portfolio delivers what they’ve said they’ll deliver and on schedule – ensuring they use our time wisely and spend the Co-op’s money like it’s their own!

Next, the Portfolio Management Office makes sure all of the planned changes are meaningful and delivered well. They also provide a centre of excellence for all things programme and project management related e.g. methodologies, tools, resources, and the people who can support the process when needed – enabling and guiding the Portfolio.

Finally, the Food Portfolio team ensures we all deliver the programmes and projects that the wider teams agreed to and ensures it’s done well! They do this by sharing plans and goals across the Co-op, helping to build a platform to support activity for colleagues, members and customers.

Smartphone product scanner and part of the pay in aisle trial. Picture by Chris Bull

The Transformation & Retail Support Centre teams will continue listening and designing solutions with colleagues, for colleagues by harnessing your passion and energy. We know by working with our stores, logistics and here in Angel Square, together, as One Co-op we can…

  • Develop simple, intuitive projects and solutions for colleagues
  • Create meaningful experiences and shopping trips for members & customers
  • Deliver sustainable change supported by everyone in the Co-op
  • Build a stronger Co-op for the future
  • Connect with all of our communities and strengthen the links

We’re working on some critical plans that will deliver some great benefits for our Co-op, colleagues, members and customers – your engagement and support is much appreciated.

Watch this space and we’ll keep you updated on our key progress, successes and let us know what you think too! We know that change is hard, but any retail business that isn’t transforming will leave themselves open to disruption. So please, do support and get behind what’s on the plan. 

Listening to colleagues in the Support Centre

Thursday 15 March saw 17 store colleagues gather in Angel Square’s ‘Innovation Centre’, a nerve centre of ideas and future store concepts from the Leading the Way team.

They were there to take part in March’s Store Manager Listening Session arranged by ourselves in Colleague Insight, a day that’s designed to provide an opportunity to hear from teams around the business, offer feedback on existing or upcoming pieces of work, and give us their thoughts and feelings on how things are for them currently.

An extra bonus of the day was an hour’s chat with our Retail Chief Executive, Jo Whitfield. The chance for an hour’s conversation with the boss is a rare one, and Jo was very willing to hear a “warts and all” view of the challenges our store colleagues are facing at the moment. You can read more about this on the Colleague Insight intranet pages.

Jo&Crew
Jo Whitfield speaks to store colleagues during our Listening Session

 

As well as hearing from them, Jo was able to give an update on how things looked from her perspective and gave some pointers about what was to come up for Food in the rest of the year.

She left the group with 3 key messages to take back to their colleagues in store;

  1. Believe in the plan
  2. Put the customer first
  3. Look after our colleagues

As well as Jo, several business areas from around the Support Centre were able to sit and talk through their world with the colleagues present, asking for the current feelings on how things work at the store level.

Among the topics discussed were store KPIs, the communications cascade and the top shelves project, where the comments and experiences of the colleagues were extremely useful in deciding what we do in the future.

They also had the chance to talk to a project manager from the wider Co-op team who discussed the very early stages of a new training project.

The learnings from a day like this feed into our quarterly hackathons, and help us keep the voice of the colleague front and centre in the minds of all in the Retail Support Centre.

By the time you’re reading this we’ll have just finished Quarter 1’s Hackathon, an event where we gather 50+ colleagues in a big room and, as well as hearing about current projects, we get them involved in shaping future projects, working out solutions to the things that they’re facing.

If you’d like to be involved in either type of session in the future (and they’re not all held in Manchester), then email the team at colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk and we’ll be in touch telling you when the next session is.

How we’re simplifying crime reporting

In their recently published annual crime survey, The British Retail Consortium (BRC) reported that retail crime is at an all-time high having risen by 6% against 2016 to a staggering £700m.  The number of violent incidents has also seen a huge increase and reflects a growing concern in society around the challenges facing the retail industry in the UK.

When crime and security incidents occur in our stores it’s really important that every incident is logged. This enables our Retail Support Centre teams to monitor and analyse crime data and ultimately drive the actions and changes that help to keep our colleagues safe. The safety of our colleagues is always a priority, and we’ve listened to store colleague’s feedback on the existing reporting process – one of the biggest concerns our colleagues have raised is how time consuming it is for stores to report security incidents. Unfortunately this often leads to only a small number of incidents being reported, especially if it is relatively low value theft.

A Mobile Solution

Kingdom 1We’ve listened hard and based on this feedback we have been working with Kingdom to develop an app that will make this much easier for store teams to log minor security incidents. It’s stressful enough for our colleagues when they have to deal with incidents in store, so anything that can simplify the crime reporting process for our colleagues is hugely beneficial for our coop.

We recently released Kingdom Konnect – an app that give stores an easy and simple way to log incidents on their mobile devices. So after an incident, instead of having to go back into the office and log on to the PC, colleagues can now complete security incident reports on the go – whether it’s on the shop floor, at the kiosk, or in the warehouse. The app gives our colleagues a quick and easy way to log minor shoplifting and anti-social behaviour incidents – and it takes less than a minute to do. Many colleagues are already using the app, and we’ve heard some great feedback so far

“This is amazing! It’s easy to use and no excuse not to report crime….”

Liam, Cambridge

“It’s really brilliant to use – Everyone is using it. Logging incidents is much quicker than before. The ease of it is that it’s in your pocket so you can use it as soon as an incident happens”

Ian, Dunscroft

“It’s so much easier than logging it on the back office”

Hannah, Somerton

The information logged via the app is vital, as it allows us to gather greater insight and understanding of crime in our stores. Having access to this information in turn helps support centre teams make the right decisions for colleague safety and allows us to react with resource where needed.

Guard
Jamaal, our Guard at Butcher Hill has been using the new App

All stores will be given access when store tablets launch later this year, however we know from listening to colleagues that they welcome the opportunity to use their own devices in the meantime. So, if colleagues choose to, they can download and access from personal devices (Colleagues should see week 9’s Bulletin for info) . We’ve seen a fantastic number of colleagues starting to use it already. This is a great step forward in simplifying crime reporting for our stores, but we haven’t finished yet. Later in 2018, we have plans to introduce an all-encompassing Health and Safety system that will be accessible from our store mobile devices which will bring further improvements to help us support the safety of our colleagues in store.

Simplifying Fresh Reductions

Picture3

Removing complexity is one of the most important ways the Retail Support Centre can help our store colleagues. One of the most common issues we’ve heard from colleagues is that our fresh reduction process wasn’t working.

Colleagues told us our reductions matrix was too complicated and the timing was not right. Having different processes for long life and short life products adds complexity and can lead to products being missed and ‘out of code’ products being left. We were reducing too many products which is time consuming and damages customer perception about the quality of our food.

We’ve listened to colleagues, and to enable stores to focus on serving our customers at our busy times, we’ve made fresh reductions process a lot simpler. We’ve changed the frequency of the checks, and the exceptions. We’ve also empowered colleagues to choose the best time to complete first reductions for their store, and to override the iRTC system where they may have store-specific challenges which need to be taken into account.

When we trialed the new process, we had some really positive feedback from colleagues. But we also learnt a lot too. We’ve learned that following the new process exactly (as it’s written) is the key to saving time and reducing waste. But how have our colleague found the new process? We spoke to a few of our store colleagues to find out how the new process has impacted their stores….

“The new process is much better as it give us more time to get it right. Because we have until 10am on the product date it allows us to be more flexible.  If something unexpected happens like a late delivery, it means we can pick up the process the following morning. It’s helped eased pressure on the late jobs which has really reduced stress in store”

Gina, Petrol Harrogate Rd

“The new process is really much simpler and easier for us”

Ifte, Southwark Mill street

“It’s working really well, I didn’t think it would as our store previously had high level of waste, but since the new system was introduced our waste has been much better, our split has improved to 80/20…….Its so much simpler now that we use the same rule for both long and short life products, and we’ve found the system is giving a much better price on the first reduction”

Tammy, Alnwick Bondgate

But we aren’t taking our foot off the gas – We’ll continue too look at how the process can be improved – We’ll be using data from the new process to improve the suggested prices generated by iRTC which will help products sell through at the first reduction.  We’ll soon have simpler reporting to help us improve our range and waste, and we’ll be looking at introducing improvements to our ambient reduction process later in 2018.