Magazine Article | February 1, 2006

Measure Store Execution With Workforce Management

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

This aftermarket auto parts retailer improves productivity, prioritizes workloads, and gains an audit trail by implementing a task management system.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, February 2006

Pep Boys operates 593 stores in 36 states and Puerto Rico serving four segments of the automotive aftermarket — do-it-yourself, do-it-for-me, buy-for-resale, and replacement tire businesses. With more than 20,000 employees, the retailer needed to improve its task management.

To track productivity, all Pep Boys stores faced the same challenges — constantly reacting to a barrage of requests from several corporate departments. Task assignments were sent to each store via paper, e-mail, word documents, intranet, and phone calls. "There was no coordination or prioritization of tasks within the organization. Store workloads were not tracked, duplicate requests were sent, and task completion was not verified," says Robert Berckman, assistant VP of solutions delivery. Not only did the retailer want to store and track requests, eliminate duplicates, monitor workloads, and clarify priorities, it also wanted visibility of task execution status company-wide.

Berckman and his team researched solutions, narrowing the selection to just a few vendors. The retailer selected Reflexis' Task Management. The selection was based on the simple system design, the vendor's commitment to help implement the solution, and a feature that other systems did not include � the "store-walk" feature. The store-walk feature works as a mini-audit, enabling regional directors to capture the results of routine store audits, including verifiying task completion as displayed in the system, while walking through each store. Reflexis' Task Management is an online tool that allows Pep Boys to organize, manage, and track task requests at each store. The system is a central application available via browser running on workstations.

Real-Time Status Reports Save Time
The solution was implemented in all stores within 10 weeks, because the system was configured to meet Pep Boys' needs. Reflexis provided user training and train-the-trainer sessions to headquarters employees. Store employees were trained via an e-learning tool provided by a third party. The system displays a one-stop dashboard view with prioritized assignments and provides access to documentation and status tasks. "Management views the progress of tasks and manages by exception, saving hours previously spent tracking down information," says Berckman. "The system allows managers to focus on solving problems and ensure completion of tasks."

As assigned tasks progress, the system is updated. For example, when a new product is launched, the solution manages all department and store tasks related to the launch, such as inventory, merchandising, and marketing. As tasks are completed, employees enter the status of tasks into the system via the Web browser. When the completion of tasks is in jeopardy, alerts are raised and action is taken immediately. The system allows time tracking on each task within the project, so Pep Boys can better estimate the time necessary to complete similar tasks.

"We now track what is asked of the stores. We never really knew which corporate employees asked store employees to complete tasks, what the tasks were, and the time taken to complete tasks," says Berckman. "Accountability has improved; however, employees are trusted to accurately enter the time spent for each task." As assigned tasks are completed, a consistent customer experience is delivered in all stores that never existed previously. Metrics allow a comparison of the time estimates for each task versus the actual time taken to complete tasks. Pep Boys hopes to improve its project estimates in the future with the use of this tool. The retailer also intends to leverage the use of the store-walk feature to audit loss prevention.