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BRP Insights: Agile – The Key to Accelerating your Retail Transformation

New Report from BRP Explains Why an Agile Approach to Operations, Technology and Implementations is the New Retail Imperative

Boston, MA – November 13, 2018 – With the swift pace of disruption occurring today, retail winners need to accelerate the transformation of their business processes, organization and technology to align with the demands of their customers.  Adopting an Agile mindset allows organizations to quickly respond to changing customer demands. The BRP Insights: Agile – The Key to Accelerating your Retail Transformation report provides valuable information on how to employ an Agile mindset and approach within your organization.

“Retailers need to quickly adapt to constantly changing and elevated customer expectations, and traditional approaches to technology and processes are not nimble enough – traditional waterfall approaches deliver last year’s requirements today,” said Ken Morris, principal, BRP.  “With an Agile approach, retailers can accelerate project completion times, reduce the associated risks, match today’s requirements and lower costs throughout the lifecycle of the project.”

Agile’s emphasis on continuously gathering customer feedback for inclusion in upcoming functionality allows retailers to ensure they’re always working on the latest and most valuable functionality for the business. Retailers can increase their return on investment while delivering high quality products that meet and exceed customers’ ever-changing demands via Agile’s emphasis on small value-added increments. By implementing an Agile mindset and providing team members with a collaborative environment where they’re empowered to innovate and learn from their mistakes, retailers are taking the right steps towards surviving the retail transformation.

The BRP Insights: Agile – The Key to Accelerating your Retail Transformation report is a helpful resource for understanding what an Agile approach entails, the benefits of Agile and how to adopt an Agile mindset.

To download the BRP Insights: Agile – The Key to Accelerating your Retail Transformationreport, visit:

https://brpconsulting.com/download/2018-brp-insights-agile/

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

AGILE IN ACTION: Achieving 50% Faster Implementation Times

With traditional IT projects, requirements are typically defined up front (sometimes 12-18 months before go-live), and are rarely revisited during the project implementation. However, by adopting an Agile mindset, organizations can quickly respond to changing customer demands, which is essential for today’s retailers.   An Agile approach allows organizations to easily revisit their requirements during the entire project implementation in order to keep up with a dynamic set of business drivers. In addition, by employing an Agile methodology, retailers are able to greatly reduce the disconnect between business unit expectations and project delivery, as there are constant iterations of incremental delivery which can be reviewed and accepted by project sponsors. As retailers are pressured to do more with less and quickly adapt to new retail realities, and an agile approach makes this possible.

I recently participated in a large and complex point of sale (POS) software implementation project using BRP’s Agile Approach for Retail, and the benefits of this approach really are remarkable. Our team successfully launched the POS solution in a pilot store in less than six months, which is about 50% faster than a standard implementation. The successful launch of this minimally viable product (MVP) approach was instrumental in not only obtaining store feedback as quickly as possible, but also in building credibility for the project team around the overall approach and efforts.

This retailer was now able to recognize the many business benefits of this POS solution much quicker than they would have with a traditional waterfall project approach. For example, the retailer can now offer personalized customer service by providing its associates easy access to information required to satisfy shopper expectations, from product and promotion data to customer purchase history. The store managers and sales associates now have instant, on-the-go access to the tools they need to enhance service and productivity by completing end-to-end POS transactions, looking up items, locating stock and much more, without ever leaving the customer’s side.

And we were able to help deliver these benefits in less than six months.

With the swift pace of disruption occurring in the industry, retailers need to accelerate the transformation of their organization, business processes and technology to align with customer demands, and an Agile approach to technology and operations can mean the difference between successful operations and bankruptcy.

If you have not already explored an Agile Approach for your implementation projects, I suggest you consider this option – the benefits are too great to ignore.  BRP’s Agile Approach for Retail offers forward-thinking retailers an accelerated and flexible method for tackling enterprise projects, and if you would like some help understanding and implementing an Agile Approach, BRP can help assess your Agile readiness and accelerate your implementation time.

I welcome your thoughts on Agile and any insights from projects where you had success with an Agile Approach.  Please share your comments below.

Ryan

Embracing and Applying the Agile Mindset (Part 3 of Agile Blog Series)

As mentioned in Part 2 of our Agile blog series – Surviving the Retail Apocalypse with an Agile Approach post, we can implement as many Agile processes and tools as we want, but if an Agile mindset is not also adapted it will be extremely difficult to achieve a successful Agile implementation. According to the 12thAnnual State of Agile Reportconducted by VersionOne, 53% of respondents cited “company philosophy or culture at odds with core Agile values” as the biggest challenge when it comes to adopting and scaling Agile. This challenge is especially prevalent in the retail industry where waterfall methodology has dominated the scene for as long as we can remember.

By definition, a mindset is “the established set of attitudes held by someone.” Therefore, implementing an Agile mindset involves establishing a company culture that embraces and applies the 4 guiding values of the Agile Manifesto. Implementing an Agile mindset allows individual team members to understand why an Agile transformation is taking place as well as the benefits from implementing this drastic, but necessary change.

Here are 5 tips to help retailers embrace and apply the Agile mindset:

  1. Hire an Agile coach

The best way for organizations to successful implement an Agile mindset is to hire an Agile coach. It’s no secret that people are reluctant to change, so having an experienced Agile coach who has the ability to analyze the current company culture and design an iterative strategy will help the organization take the right steps towards a successful Agile implementation. The Agile coach should ideally be someone who has worked in your domain and thus understands the nuances of the industry. They should be able to guide the team to quickly develop an Agile mindset by helping them understand the why behind the Agile values and principles.

  1. Begin with implementing an Agile mindset at the executive level

Top-down support at the executive level is an essential component to a successful Agile implementation. C-level executives should have a deep understanding of how Agile projects are tracked and budgeted, what metrics are used, and what the metrics mean. They should understand that Agile projects focus on delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) followed by small incremental deliveries. This means that the initial product is limited in scope, but then grows organically through added features and enhancements every couple weeks. Breaking down the work like this helps the organization respond to changes in customer needs as well as the direction of the market and helps keep customers engaged. They also need to understand that roadmaps will replace project plans and that team velocity and releases will replace traditional performance metrics such as percentage complete. Upper management should provide an environment where team members feel empowered, trusted, and free to make (and learn) from their mistakes.

  1. Pick an Agile framework

One of the benefits of using Agile is that your team is constantly inspecting and adapting. This means that if a couple of months down the road your team realizes that the selected Agile framework isn’t working for them; Agile is flexible enough to allow you to change an aspect of the framework or try a completely new framework. Since there are many different Agile frameworks (such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, Scrumban, Scrum/XP hybrid, etc.), it’s important for organizations to analyze the scope/complexity of the project, the level of uncertainty of the project, and the skills of your team members to determine which framework will work best for your team. Just because you choose one framework over another doesn’t mean that you’re stuck with it for the rest of the project.

  1. Set up Agile workshops for the team

Agile workshops ensure that everyone on your team understands the core concepts, implementation strategy and terminology that will be used by your organization. If possible, it’s best to train all of your team members at once to make sure that everyone receives the same message and is aligned on expectations. Agile workshops also allow your team to be exposed to different frameworks, tools, and techniques commonly used by Agile teams. Even though you probably won’t be utilizing all of them, it’s important that your team is familiarized with them in case they need to be utilized in the future.

  1. Inspect and adapt!

If at any point you see that your team is struggling to embrace an Agile mindset with the selected framework, tools, and/or techniques; take a moment, as a team, to reflect on how you can improve and come up with an action plan to make any necessary adjustments. Although it may take months, or even years for your team to successfully “be Agile,” by ensuring that your organization understands, applies, and embraces an Agile mindset you will reap the benefits of Agile from the start.

Please feel free to share any comments, questions, or concerns you may have below. We’d love to hear from you.

Best,

Hellen

Surviving the Retail Apocalypse with an Agile Approach (Part 2 of Agile Blog Series)

There’s no denying that adding “Retail Apocalypse” to any news headline (or blog post title) certainly provides an extra dash of sensationalism. Add the word “Agile” to the mix and things start to really get interesting. According to a survey conducted by HP, 67% of companies now describe themselves as being “pure Agile” or “leaning towards being Agile.” Although the Agile movement was originally created with the end goal of “uncovering better ways of developing software,” companies are now starting to realize that Agile isn’t just a set of methods and methodologies used to develop software – it’s a philosophy.

The Agile philosophy focuses on delivering the highest value in the shortest time possible by taking an incremental delivery approach based on the four guiding values of the Agile Manifesto with emphasis placed on:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

The authors of the Agile Manifesto don’t deny the value of the items on the right, but they recognize that the value of the items on the left significantly surpass those on the right. These four guiding values serve as the foundation for the various Agile frameworks, such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, etc., that have been developed over the years. These Agile frameworks provide teams with the techniques and tools needed to begin their Agile transformation. However, a successful Agile implementation depends heavily on an organization’s ability to embrace and apply the Agile mindset which requires a complete organizational shift in the way team members and management work and communicate with one another.

Some may argue that it’s impossible to successfully implement Agile within a retail environment due to the complexity of integrating antiquated legacy systems with complex cloud-based solutions requiring massive infrastructural, architectural, and operational changes.  However, we at BRP have successfully applied Agile methodologies to implementations resulting in accelerated implementation times. While unsettling news stories about the death of malls, store closures, and bankruptcies will undoubtedly continue to flood our newsfeed, BRP is here to provide retailers with the tools and resources needed to survive the so-called “Retail Apocalypse” via our Agile Blog series. Please feel free to share any comments, questions, or concerns you may have below. We’d love to hear from you.

Best,

Hellen

BRP Consulting’s Agile Approach for Retail Helps Accelerate Business Transformation

BRP’s Agile Approach can Achieve 50% Faster Implementation Times

Boston, MA – September 13, 2018– BRP announces the availability of its innovative Agile Approach for Retail that helps retailers deploy software up to 50% faster than traditional efforts.  Retail is rapidly being redefined. With the swift pace of disruption occurring today, retail winners need to accelerate the transformation of their organization, business processes and technology to align with the demands of their customers.  With its Agile Approach for Retail, BRP is uniquely positioned to help forward-thinking retailers adopt this accelerated and flexible method for tackling enterprise projects.

BRP’s Agile Approach for Retail enables organizations to get to market faster by encouraging cross-organizational teamwork, collaboration and adaptability, all while ensuring better organizational ownership and more efficient adoption of newly implemented solutions. With significantly faster project completion times, retailers reduce the associated risks and costs throughout the lifecycle of the project. BRP resources are trained in Agile methodologies and have hands-on experience in supporting organizations as they make the necessary structural shift in the way team members and management work and communicate with one another.

“Adopting an Agile mindset allows organizations to quickly respond to changing customer demands. With traditional implementation approaches, requirements need to be defined 12-18 months before implementation, but an Agile approach allows retailers to easily shift requirements during project implementation to match today’s and tomorrow’s customer demands,” said Ryan Grogman, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP. “As retailers are pressured to do more with less and quickly adapt to new retail realities, an Agile approach to technology and operations, has become a new retail imperative.”

Agile’s emphasis on continuously gathering customer feedback for inclusion in upcoming functionality allows retailers to ensure that they’re always working on the latest and most valuable functionality for the business. Retailers increase their return on investment while delivering high quality products that meet and exceed customer demands via Agile’s emphasis on small value-added increments. By implementing an Agile mindset and providing team members with a collaborative environment where they’re empowered to innovate and learn from their mistakes, retailers are taking the right steps towards surviving the retail transformation.

About BRP

BRP is an innovative retail management consulting firm dedicated to providing superior service and enduring value to our clients. BRP combines its consultants’ deep retail business knowledge and cross-functional capabilities to deliver superior design and implementation of strategy, technology, and process solutions. The firm’s unique combination of industry focus, knowledge-based approach, and rapid, end-to-end solution deployment helps clients to achieve their business potential. BRP’s consulting services include:

Strategy | Business Intelligence | Business Process Optimization | Point of Sale (POS)
Mobile POS | Payment Security | E-Commerce | Store Systems and Operations | CRM
Unified Commerce | Customer Experience | Order Management | Networks
Merchandise Management | Supply Chain | Private Equity

For more information on BRP, visit http://www.brpconsulting.com.

Using Agile to Drive your Retail Transformation (Part 1 of Agile Blog Series)

With store closures, bankruptcies, and acquisitions still big news; it’s not surprising that the media continues to paint a dark and gloomy future for traditional retail. However, in reality, the retail industry isn’t headed towards a so-called “retail apocalypse.” Instead, we are undergoing the most exciting technologically fueled transformation in history! In a true survival of the fittest fashion, only those retailers who are ready to optimize their technology to meet the ever-increasing customer demands will survive and thrive during today’s “Retail Transformation.”

What exactly is this “Retail Transformation?”

According to the Business Dictionary, transformation is “in an organizational context, a process of profound and radical change that orients an organization in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness.” Therefore, Retail Transformation can best be described as a disruptive collection of technologically driven changes that are redefining the retail industry. In the past, the storefront was the main interaction customers had with a brand. So, their primary goal was to develop strategies to increase foot traffic in stores which would then increase profits. However, technological advances have completely redesigned the retail environment; shifting the main goal of increasing customer count to a by-product of their new goal – enhancing the customer’s shopping experience.

Thanks to mobile devices, the customer shopping experience now begins before the customer even enters a physical store. E-commerce platforms accessed via internet browsers on computers, tablets, and mobile devices provide consumers with the ability to view product details, reviews, compare prices and check item availability before stepping foot in a store. According to Retail’s Digital Crossroads: The Race to Meet Shopper Expectations report, digital interactions influence 75% of consumers’ pre-store visits and are leveraged in 46% of in-store shopping experiences.

Consumers not only want to be able to easily view information on demand, they expect the information to be accurate. Consumers now want the ability to buy anywhere, ship anywhere, pick up anywhere, and return anywhere. Buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) is now just table stakes with customers. Thus, it’s no surprise that those retailers who fail to upgrade/optimize their enterprise systems to support the ever-increasing list of customer demands will mostly likely not survive.

Agile to the Rescue

Although Agile has been around for more than 15 years, many people still don’t fully understand what it means to be Agile. For starters, Agile is an approach to project management that focuses on incrementally delivering small chunks of working software to end users, so that they can evaluate if the new functionality is both useful and desired. By delivering small chunks at a time, Agile allows organizations to be better prepared to quickly respond to changing customer demands. Agile’s emphasis on continuously gathering customer feedback for inclusion in upcoming functionality allows retailers to ensure that they’re always working on the most valuable functionality for the business. Retailers can also benefit from Agile’s “fail fast” approach where the idea is to test out an initiative (whether it be new product, strategy or functionality) as quickly as possible, so that if the initiative doesn’t go very well, it’s easy for the organization to swiftly course correct. Retailers who wish to transform their business must be prepared to invest in revamping their technology with the end goal of enhancing the customer experience.

Stay tuned to our Agile blog series to find out how retailers can start utilizing Agile to help them optimize their Retail Transformation. Please feel free to share any comments, questions, or concerns you may have below. We’d love to hear from you.

Best,

Hellen

Delivering an Elevated Customer Experience Requires an Agile Retail Technology Platform

Retail CIO Outlook – Perry Kramer, senior vice president and practice lead at BRP, retail consulting firm, shares his insights on agile retail technology.

Retailers that are thriving – and there are lots of them – anticipate and react to consumers’ demand for an enhanced and continuously changing retail experience.  Retailers that have successfully anticipated the changing customer experience have created a technical platform, with the supporting process changes, that allows them to react quickly enough to stay ahead of a new set of customer expectations in an increasingly competitive digital retail environment.

Increasing Pressure on the Retail Model

One of the greatest hockey players ever, Wayne Gretzky, said “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”  The retailers who are profitable and continuing to grow are executing this same philosophy.

The pressure on physical stores continues, as more than 7,100 retail locations have closed this year and additional closures are expected after the holiday season. With an estimated 15% of holiday shopping moving to digital this year, the competition for share of wallet has become more intense than at any point in the digital retail era.  As retailers shift more of their sales online, additional pressures are exerted as retailers deal with the lower margin generally associated with digital sales and the need for modified business process, organizational and technology changes to remain competitive.

For retailers to succeed in the future, they must transform their business with agile technology and new processes that adapt to current and future customer expectations. Retailers don’t have the luxury of time.  They must act now to survive.

Focus on Agile Technology

The first step is to migrate the current budget and focus expended on maintaining legacy commodity systems to a model that is focused on advanced, agile systems that drive a distinguishing customer experience and/or improve margin.

Moving commodity systems such as finance, HR, asset protection, network, mobile device management and monitoring to a SaaS model is a critical first step.  In addition, the business needs to refocus (not eliminate) resources on migrating the distinguishing business-focused systems to a more agile technology platform.  More efficient technology and processes are critical to enable retailers to adapt quickly and anticipate rapidly changing retail dynamics. With a narrower set of internally supported applications, retailers have a greater focus on the key systems that have the greatest impact on the customer experience and product margin including, analytics, merchandise planning and allocation, digital commerce, CRM and customer engagement (mobile and POS).

The major obstacle for retailers in transforming their technology has been the short-term budget impact of shifting capital budget funds to expense budget funds that is associated with moving to a SaaS model.  Savvy CIOs have been able to build a strong multi-year story and convince the CFO and other C-level decision-makers that the short-term financial impact is key to their long-term success. The business needs to understand the value of the investment as a proactive strategic initiative, not a cost savings initiative. Leading and fast following retailers are beginning to realize the urgency of this transformation.  According to BRP’s 2017 POS/Customer Engagement Survey, adding omni-channel integration and POS functions were the top two retailer initiatives, which indicates that most retailers are focused on the ability to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

The Need for Real-time Data and Analytics

Developing an agile technology infrastructure and organization is critical to leveraging the large amount of data that retailers collect but fail to use effectively. In many cases, retailers have as much information as retail giants like Amazon and Walmart but have failed to make it actionable in their analytics, CRM and merchandising systems. This results in lower margin because they have not accurately anticipated customer demand and positioned the right merchandise, and people in the right place at the right time.

Additionally, retailers who are trying to play catch up do not have real-time enterprise-wide access to the data needed to meet consumers’ rapidly changing expectations, which makes it challenging to properly allocate their resources – products and people. Customers expect retail associates to have easy access to rich, detailed enterprise-wide product content and consumer preferences in real-time when they are engaging with the customer.To keep the customer at the epicenter of the retail transaction, retailers need to migrate to an environment that offers real-time access to enterprise-wide product information, customer preferences, and transaction history across all channels – and it must be accessible from mobile devices.

Flexible Processes are a Requisite

In addition to adopting agile technologies, such as micro services, winning retailers anticipate changing demands and leverage a more narrowly focused, and more flexible set of processes to work with their business units to quickly build lower cost proof of concepts and learning centers. By reducing development costs and time to market, they are able to budget for and work with the business units to build proof of concepts and learning-focused pilots. This is a critical difference between the leaders and the followers.  Other moderately successful, and slightly more conservative retailers, are leveraging these changes to position themselves as fast followers.

For retailers to be successful they need to stay ahead of customer expectations and their significant use of mobile technology, by building flexible and reusable technologies with aligned processes that are focused on areas that are impactful to the consumer while still maintaining margin.  Agile environments allow for a lower cost structure and the ability to leap frog the trends of online pure-plays opening brick-and-mortar stores and traditional retailers experimenting with new store models – and be where the customer will be.

Read full magazine: Delivering an Elevated Customer Experience Requires an Agile Retail Technology Platform (page 8)

Downloads

2018 BRP Insights – Agile

Agile – The Key to Accelerating your Retail Transformation

This BRP Insights, from BRP retail consulting firm, highlights the benefits of an Agile Approach and why it is becoming an imperative for accelerating retail transformation.

With the swift pace of disruption occurring today, retail winners need to accelerate the transformation of their organization, business processes and technology to align with the demands of their customers.  An Agile Approach enables organizations to get to market faster by encouraging cross-organizational teamwork, collaboration and adaptability, all while ensuring better organizational ownership and more efficient adoption of newly implemented solutions. With significantly faster project completion times, retailers reduce the associated risks and costs throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Adopting an Agile mindset allows organizations to quickly respond to changing customer demands. As retailers are pressured to do more with less and quickly adapt to new retail realities, an Agile approach to technology and operations, has become a new retail imperative.