Supply chain management: An opportunity for transformation?

The world of retail has always been competitive and fast moving. In the current climate, where few are making sustained headway on sales and margin, agility and demand responsiveness are at an even greater premium. For me, this is about supply chain performance where failure can threaten survival, and excellence can transform a company’s market position and financial performance. 

The term supply chain is now as ubiquitous in both the press and government pronouncements. However, the interpretation and scope of supply chain management by people and organisations is varied. Recent research by Cranfield, led by Professor Richard Wilding, found that the senior supply chain manager in around 70% of companies had a place on the divisional or operating board. This is a position that has emerged from nothing in only the last ten years. However, the same research showed that the scope of responsibility varied greatly across the 238 manufacturing companies surveyed.  

What is supply chain management?

The essence of supply chain thinking is about improving the end-to-end processes within a business and with its suppliers and customers, to maximise sales and margin potential.  So the reported fragmentation of responsibility is interesting. For me, supply chain management is about the integration of planning with sourcing, making and delivering.  While the research was carried out mainly with manufacturers, the parallels with retail are strong, with supply chain now having a place on the board, but directors’ responsibilities are not consistently framed across the retail sector. 

Should supply chain calls the shots?

No, this doesn’t mean that supply chain people should call the shots across the business; that would drive a left brain and relatively uncreative retail world and spell potential disaster. From my experience, boards generally see supply chain as a source of risk and disruption. The well-catalogued failures over the years have taken their toll and supply chain operations are perceived as having a negative potential. Suppliers, warehouse operations and systems, parcel operators and others are all seen as potential pitfalls and points of cost with no upside at all. 

For most retailers the planning, buying and merchandising functions (right brained and creative) are not perceived as organised as ‘supply chain’ functions. The paradox is that the financial and reputational risk from lost sales, markdowns and disposals from the planning of flow control processes are worth typically more than double the entire cost of the physical distribution operations. 

How do retailers get it right?

So retailers are damned if they don’t get the operations right, but they are doubly damned if their planning of buying and distribution is lacking. Buying and merchandising is central to retail supply chain management and the real challenge is to manage the tensions between left and right brain thinking, to drive real customer value. By doing this well retailers could see a 5% improvement in like-for-likes and 2% to 3% in net margin. Most CEO’s would kill for that right now and they need to think about their organisational dynamics to get a new balance. 

The multichannel challenge

Multichannel is coming up on the rails so fast it will soon be the outright winner; the problem is that multichannel risks are driving in cost and margin erosion faster than the growth. Right now this is still ‘land grab’ time. Right brains have control and are rushing headlong – and while pursuit of growth is not wrong, it should be challenged if it comes at too great a cost. The fulfilment cost options need to be clearly understood and Boards will need a tighter grasp of the new operating system in order to make balanced long term choices.  Again a consistent offer, well presented and executed by a trusted brand, at a cost that does not erode margin too fast, will be the future. Successful multichannel retailers will be judged by how little they have eroded value, as they have embraced the new normal of e-retailing. 

So what about the future?

Going forward, Boards will need to recognise these twin realities and put in place processes to bring both the left and right brain tensions to their table, well informed by real cost and net margin data. Only then will they make decisions that can protect the business from major surprises. It is both essential for survival and the opportunity for transformation. 

Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on danny@refind.co.uk

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 

Transformation takes time

Transformation takes time

Retailers should look on today’s tough market as an opportunity.  The current tough trading conditions and the structural changes to the market give retailers a rare opportunity to establish a winning position for many years to come. 

The squeeze on consumer purchasing power will be a fact of life for some time. But of more importance is the growth of the internet, already influencing a high proportion of transactions, whether in store or online. In some product categories, the internet is rapidly taking over from stores as the main sales channel. 

Tougher times encourage customers to look harder for value, whether that be price, service, design, availability or convenience. This accelerates the growth of new distribution channels and changes to the supply chain as the new technology enables better value to be delivered to customers. 

At the same time cost inflation continues to exceed price inflation, intensifying the profit squeeze. Some retailers have already announced space reduction programmes. 

Inevitably, some retailers now considered invincible will be overtaken by rivals, better attuned to today’s customers expectations, meeting them and earning profits. Some will disappear. Others will survive, shadows of their former selves. Some manufacturers are already trying to bypass retailers completely. And some competitors from other countries can supply from abroad. 

To steer the path to the sunny uplands, three parallel paths have to be followed: 

  • Deal with the short term. In tough markets many retailers increase prices, impose cost reductions that damage the brand and increase promotional activity. This might fool investors but not the customer. Far better to focus on the core brand values, reinforce them and deliver on exceptional execution. Then watch your competitors become weaker. 
  • Define a clear vision of what is needed to be a winner in the next decade and communicate it. Ensure this vision encompasses best practice worldwide, including new and non-traditional potential competitors. Invest in the new skills and resources needed to successfully innovate. Act early. 
  • Provide the transformational leadership needed to overcome the natural inertia and resistance to change. Colleagues want certainty and often find change threatening. Investors want short-term profits and need convincing about the investment. And the media will be a voice for the doubters and vested interests. Innovations need to be protected and nurtured while those dealing with the short term need to feel valued and part of the future. 

Successful transformations are challenging and take time. Many more fail than succeed. It is too easy for management to manage short-term profits, talk about tactical innovations and achieve the incentive plan targets, hoping that the tipping point will not incur on their watch. Remain in denial too long and it will be too late. 

The leadership need to have the foresight to see the opportunities early and the motivation, incentive and skill to manage a successful transformation. 

Leading colleagues, investors and other stakeholders through the transition and the associated learning process is a tough challenge but immensely satisfying. 

 
Click here to read the original article from Retail Week. 

To discuss this article further, you can email me on danny@refind.co.uk

re:find help businesses find the talent they need to deliver transformational change.  Clients call us when they need change to happen quickly and effectively. We are Executive Search and Interim Search specialists. 

Click here to read about what we do specifically in the retail sector. 


Insider story – how to tackle a HR transformation project

How to tackle a HR transformation project
How to tackle a HR transformation project

Wondering how you’re going to tackle that next big transformation project as well as keeping your sanity intact? Wonder no more, in this blog we talked to Peter Cablis from HR consulting firm Evolving HR about managing a large, complex HR transformation project for Jaguar Land Rover. Peter talks about what was involved in the project and shares his key lessons learnt.

Embarking on a mission critical HR transformation project? Keep your cool with these key insights from Peter Cablis, from Jaguar Land Rover.

“The modern world is volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous and organisations have had to become like rapid-reaction forces, needing to respond quickly, flex and adapt to suit an ever-changing world. HR professionals have needed to adapt too and have been required to manage multiple change programmes over their careers.

No doubt many of you have learned valuable lessons during the change programmes, but how many of you wished you had gone into the experience armed with the wisdom you were set to gain after the project?

While we can’t send you into the future, we can at least give you some insight into the wisdom we gained from a recent large scale, complex transformation programme involving:

  • Multiple business areas and sites
  • The introduction of new technology & major office refurbishment
  • Ordering and trialling of new equipment
  • The transition of new people into a department and their training
  • A major cultural shift for how HR transacts with the business and how business needs to operate
  • Limited budget and finite time for implementation
  • A culture of low accountability and silo’s

Despite these challenges, the project delivered, on time, to budget and was exactly what the customer wanted. So what were the secrets to this successful programme and what can be learned for future HR change programmes? We share a few of the key insights below (this is not an exhaustive list but serves as a guide):

1. Clearly scope out the project. Have clear timelines, measurements and milestones for each activity and phase of the project.

2. Know the skills and experience you need on the project and select the right people. Ensure they are fully dedicated and clear about their role in delivering the project.

3. Be clear who the key stakeholders are and engage with them right at the start.

4. Ensure everyone on the project is clear on their roles and what they are accountable for.

5. Set up a clear project governance board, with the right operational people from the project and the right key stakeholders. Review weekly/daily each part of the project as it proceeds. Make sure there is a ‘Risk, Actions, Issues and Dependencies’ log. Just as importantly, ensure all members of the project team are kept informed of changes and impacts to the overall project and their areas. Consult regularly with them and don’t be reluctant to refine the project plan if required.

6. Chunk the project down into its component parts, so that it becomes manageable and if required have distinct work streams.

7. Always ‘check in’ with the end users/people most likely to be affected by the change, to see if you have missed anything in the project.

8. Have a clear communication and feedback work stream. Consider how the change may affect the end users and adapt both your style of communication and the method of communication accordingly. Use multiple mediums to reach out to these people, including workshops, feedback groups, presentations, regular bulletins and blogs and intranet. Keep the flow of communication going throughout the project.

Thank you to Peter for sharing his knowledge and if you would like to know how to keep your cool and perhaps your sanity during a big-ticket, high-pressure, HR transformation project please contact Peter at EvolvingHR on info@evolvinghr.co.uk.

 

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

What is organisational development?

 

What is organisational development?
What is organisational development?

 

A lot has changed since I started re:find 4 years ago, but the principles are still the same. I want to help make your business better, through recruiting the right people!

I want to go back to the start and look into my world of organisational development (OD). As an OD expert, I help build high performing businesses. Yes, it is a fancy title. So what is it exactly that I do?

OD is about how organisations’ function and, more importantly, how they can work better. There is no one single OD theory, but there are plenty of best practice models that give discipline to my work which is a combination of “hard” and “soft” issues.

Hard issues such as the external environment, vision, strategy, structure, tasks and skills. Soft issues such as culture, values, work climate, motivation, management practices and individual needs. Hard or soft, my end game is always to help your business achieve great individual and organisational performance.

Re-creating your strategy
Technological, demographic and geographic change is constant, whether we like it not. I have a view that organisational development (OD) should be a constant, organic, evolving process of change, improvement and development to meet what is an ever-changing internal and external market.

What does this mean for you, the business leader? There are one-off situations where a leader finds something that they find distinctly undesirable and wants to change it. Mostly, OD is about being on the ball, revisiting core business capabilities, revising old strategies or implementing new strategies to make sure that your business survives and thrives, in line with the market.

So I encourage my clients to think about the product, where it sits in its sector, competitors, suppliers, customers, technological advances and the threat of new entrants into the market – the stuff of Porter’s five forces.

Are you a market leader or follower? Are you asset light or asset heavy? Who’s doing something new out there? Keep your market intelligence up to date. As Jack Welch once said, “Change before you have to.”

When you make a change to a strategy it always has a knock-on on effect on certain areas of the business – structure, process, people and culture. Some experts will argue which is affected first. Stop! All are interconnected and have to be considered in the round.

So, exactly what part do I play? Well, I help you to recreate your strategy.

Process
Changing strategy means some of your core processes will change. Your team, using their end to end technical process knowledge, will now need to assess, analyse, discover, redefine and redesign certain processes. This will be key to maintaining and improving service to customers and should not be rushed.

You will need a disciplined method of considering workflow design, IT, motivation and measurement, policies and rules, people, resources and facilities.

I can help you redefine the process. Some folk call it ‘business process re-engineering’.

Structure
The new process will impact the structure and reorganisation of staff, resources and facilities. Policy led and technological systems will have to be addressed.

Technology is an enabler for strategy. Since the days of the Luddites, technological advances have meant that smart machinery has replaced skilled workforces and that the smart machinery has required a new set of technical expertise to maintain and develop.

I can help you to design the proposed organisation model.

People
Today, we are all technologists with our smartphones, iPads and social media, but most people still don’t like change. Communicating your logic and passion for change, consulting and listening and remaining organized, tenacious, sensitive to reactions, adaptable and resilient will help you to make a successful change.

I can help you gain acceptance of change and manage the transformation programme.

Culture
Your current core capabilities, management systems and culture are likely to limit your ability to implement the new strategy and will also need to be adjusted.

Company culture is difficult to change and sometimes it is a case of “working with what you have got” and morphing it into “what you need”, to drive the strategy. Leadership, reward, training, employee branding, recruitment, management practices and other motivating factors can be introduced to help culture evolve. Perhaps the most powerful impact on culture comes from a good learning infrastructure.

Your culture is unique and I can help you call on the creativity, best practices and lesson learned from other organisations.

Darwin once said, “It’s not the strongest species that survive, or even the most intelligent. It is those most adaptable to change”.

He has a point you know!

Ruth Gawthorpe is the founder of The Change Directors. She is an expert in Organisational Devlopment, HR and Change Management and works with organisations to help them build high performance cultures. Ruth is passionate about using her skills to support executive teams to get the results quickly and smoothly and would like to share her lessons learned and wisdom with you.

 

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

Are HR folk really masters of organisational change?

 

Are HR folk really masters of organisational change?
Are HR folk really masters of organisational change?

There’s one thing that frequently surprises me about the mainstream HR narrative. It’s the unflappable belief that HR folk are masters of organisational change – that they take change in their stride and it’s done with a process-driven approach, that removes the inevitable emotion that goes with it.

But here’s my issue. Yes, this might be true for change that affects everyone else, but what if ‘change’ is actually happening to them? What if HR people are the ones that are being impacted by the shadow of uncertainty that they sometimes (purposely or not) impose on everyone else?

In these instances, I’ve found that the truth is closer to this: that in actual fact, HR professionals are ‘not’ the resilient people we expect them to be. But that’s just my point. In these instances, we shouldn’t actually expect them to be super-human, emotionless people. The problem is that we often do.

Why?

Well, ultimately, HR folk are people too. When they’re impacted by change, they very quickly become just as ‘normal’ as any other employee. Some might call this ‘HR revealing their true colours’. But, just because they’re HR experts, does not, (and crucially, should not), make them somehow emotionally detached.

In fact, I think HR professionals have a reason to exhibit more fear than most – because they have a greater understanding of what’s really likely to happen; because they know the processes, and they know the score. When you think about it, it’s hardly surprising these people feel more vulnerable, because they can read between the lines more. They’re afraid because they’re more informed or aware. They’re already thinking whether processes being discussed are open and transparent, and whether people really know more than they’re letting on – often because that’s how they’ve been taught to do so.

Does this matter?

Yes, I believe so. Organisational change can only happen when everyone – and that truly means everyone – is behind the change and engaged with it. It’s my view that HR is pivotal in making broader organisation change happen, but this can only happen, if they themselves are not suspicious of the process and how it will impact them.

Even if there is an agreed business case for making change, different people have different methods for presenting it. By and large, the HR community has been taught to question change, so without these people on-board, there can be barriers and obstacles to change.

The only way to eliminate this, is for the business to talk to HR consistently – as if they’re all being impacted the same as anyone else. This is the only way the business can get a better breed of change professional, and one that is engaged in the process. So often, I hear HR folk say they’re being told that there is going to be restructure, and that they should come up with suggestions for how to achieve it, but what’s missing is a way for them to participate without wondering how their own function is being affected. You can’t expect this level of buy-in without telling HR straight about how change is coming to them.

What many people forget, is that when HR is dealing with organisational change, they are worried about how the change will impact their own jobs, but they are also expected to get on with their day job too. This could be a change they are managing for their client group. This is emotionally draining.

Getting the best out of HR:

All businesses need to recognise that to get the best out of HR, they must support them, and give them insights, and most importantly, not forget that they are real people too. After all, they have been hired precisely because of their ‘people’ skills. Without garnering this support, the internal change agents you need HR to be may not do things with the business’s interest at heart.

Remember, it is totally appropriate to expect HR to perform, but it should also not be forgotten that HR folk are employees too. It’s important their feelings are talked about, and that it’s done with genuine respect for the skills they have.

My advice is to be straight. If you don’t know something, tell HR you don’t know. If you do know some things, tell them those things. The business of planning for change should include these elements from the start, but sometimes they can be overlooked. Remember, seek to be open, but in a managed way. There’s nothing worse than catching HR professionals off-guard about change. Of course, we should expect HR experts to be mature, and professional, but let’s not forget that sometimes, because they are armed with more knowledge, they will often need more nurturing.

Josh Sunsoa is the founder of Sunsoa & Co, an specialist ‘Employment Relations’ consultancy providing professional strategic advice on the management of business restructuring, executive and managed terminations, TUPE transfers, HR case management and compliance

To discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk.

You can view more about James Cumming our change and business transformation specialist here.

Insider Story – Resourcing Transformation at Gowling WLG

For August’s instalment of Insider’s Story, I met up with not only one of my favourite HR professionals, but one of my favourite people in general, to talk about ‘resourcing transformation’.

The wonderful Jo Franklin, Head of Resourcing for Gowling WLG, agreed to sit down with me and have a chat about the huge ‘resourcing transformation’ journey they have been on.

She explains how they have transformed their resourcing strategy and well and truly stepped out of the ‘Wragge & Co shadow’.

Gowling WLG has been on quite a ride over the past few years…

What was once Wragge & Co, then Wragge, Lawrence Graham & Co, (before joining forces with top Canadian law firm Gowlings) and finally Gowling WLG was born.

Jo joined the business post-merger in the early part of 2016. They had gone from being in the Top 25 to overnight becoming a part of a major international law firm. As a result of this, their resourcing and talent strategies needed some serious development and she was in responsible for resourcing transformation.

“ It was a testing period”, Jo admits “as I joined, three of my most experienced team members were going on maternity leave. All of that knowledge and experience leaving at a time of considerable change!”

The Transformation

The vision was clear; to make Gowling WLG a recognised brand in the marketplace, to compete against the top law firms and to secure the best talent across lateral, business services and early talent.

The perception that the resourcing team was very much an administrative support function was something that Jo wanted to change. As around 60% of the team’s time had been spent on recruitment admin, they wanted to adopt a business partnering approach and get more stakeholder facetime.

Jo says, “We wanted to have a position in the market where we could source directly, because of our reputation.”

To put this into perspective in the legal sector, agency hire rates sits at around 60-70%. Jo had set herself a target of direct sourcing at 60%.

In order to achieve this, the team needed to look at a number of things including Employer Brand, EVP and Internal Engagement.

How did you do it?

One of the key pieces to landing any big transformation is to engage with your people and to take them along on the journey. They wanted to focus on their people, rather than the work they do.

Gowling decided to undertake 360-degree feedback to determine their true employer values.

This consisted of 12 workshops with people across the brand, from trainee to partner level. It also involved leadership interviews and market research to understand what made working at Gowling WLG different and unique.

From this developed an employer value proposition (EVP)framework upon which the new careers site would be based.

Headed up by the team members returning from maternity leave, they employed the service of two specialist agencies to convert their EVP into attraction messaging and built their careers site around this.

In order to meet their own challenging direct sourcing targets (60% of all offers), their social media and direct hiring activity needed to be supported by a creative, informative and content-rich careers website.

This is Gowling WLG’s first full careers site. For several years, the firm has had an early talent website, but the offering for fee earners and business service professionals was limited, and the team was keen to promote their new enhanced apprenticeship programme. Now they have detailed information on the firm, its culture and all the different job families in one place, which is presented in a creative and engaging way.

‘You can’t just tell people what your values are’

A common mistake that many organisations make is just announcing what their Values and EVP are, rather than engaging with people, which can alienate people and leave them feeling unsure of their identity.

Rather than just announcing firm values, it is far more effective to live and breathe them, and they slowly infiltrate into the business as usual.”

There must be a mindset change for any transformation to be implemented successfully.

Jo and her team did this through empowering the people around them.. Rather than focussing on what was wrong with the current approach, they demonstrated how great things really could be by sharing knowledge and helping people to understand that there are other ways of attracting great candidates…

Jo says, “Don’t tell people, let them experience it”

Developing a ‘Dream Team’

Jo recognised that in order to truly provide a value-add service to the business, developing her team’s offering was key.

At the time of joining, their agency spend was substantial…

Due to previously having a limited view of forthcoming requirements, the firm had become used to a reactive approach to recruitment and this was going to be a huge change for them.

Proving the model worked and providing tangible results in the first few months was vital, both in the quality of candidates introduced and time to hire.

One of the key hires to the team was Chris Lake, who had an exceptional track record in direct resourcing, having worked for a legal agency for 6 years prior to joining Gowling WLG.

Jo empowered the team to start taking a more forward-thinking approach. They began to identify and map the key markets within the firm’s key sector areas, understanding the active candidate market but more importantly building a picture of passive candidates that could be developed into a talent audience for the future.

The resourcing advisors started to build trust with key stakeholders and taking time to understand their business objectives and working with managers to plan for skills gaps and provide competitor insight and analysis to build credibility.

‘This wasn’t an original solution’

Now Jo, whilst undeniably fantastic, isn’t a part of some kind of secret recruitment magic circle!

The direct sourcing model isn’t an original solution, however, it’s usage within the legal sector is limited within the Top 100 law firms. In addition to this, varied results and methods are evident across the sector – i.e. direct sourcing limited to business services/non-fee earner roles or paralegal level recruitment in some firms.

What is clear, however, is that Jo has opened her stakeholders’ eyes to ‘what could be’ if they trusted in her and her team.

By really engaging with your people, being armed with knowledge and taking a genuine interest in your stakeholders, you can build fantastic relationships.

This doesn’t necessarily happen over-night. Jo herself will admit it has been in huge part down to her teams’ sheer persistence, determination and energy to truly add value that this transformation has been such a huge success

Where are they now?

12 months after Jo and Chris joined the business, Gowling WLG had succeeded in reducing its cost per hire by 41%. The time to hire for the new direct talent strategy 30% lower than for previous hires through recruitment agencies.

The success has continued with the team meeting their direct hire targets year on year, producing real and credible savings on agency spend, whilst still focusing time on building relationships with their key agencies to help with niche roles. By April 2018, they had exceeded their initial 60% goal.

The team were also delighted to receive a prestigious HR in Law award in May for their careers site, which they are now extending out to their international offices, the first being Dubai.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Jo Franklin for taking part in my Insiders Story series! To find out more about life at Gowling WLG, visit their careers page at: https://gowlingwlg.com/en/careers

For all things interim management, change & transformation, get in touch with us via the info form below, and if you would like to feature in our ‘Insiders Story’ blog, email me on kate@refind.co.uk

You can view more about Kate Wass our executive interim specialist here

What makes a successful HR business partner?

A HR business partner as successful as batman and superman
What makes a successful HR business partner?

HR has seen quite a change over the past few years, thanks to the introduction of new technologies and changing cultural attitudes. So it makes sense that the qualities of a successful HR business partner may have gone through a similar metamorphosis since Ulrich first introduced the concept.

 

These days more focus is needed on how they add value to a company. But you can’t just go from being traditional HR to HR business partner overnight, as a completely different set of attitudes, beliefs and skills are required to pull off this role.

So, what exactly makes a successful HR business partner (HRBP)?

  • A well-rounded knowledge base. As the job description for a HR business manager has become all-encompassing, the knowledge base of a HRBP must be as well. Similar to a typical HR manager, a HRBP should have a sound understanding of the law so that the company they work for understands their legal obligations to their employees. Additionally, a basic understanding of psychology is also beneficial as the role now entails more interaction directly with employees.
  • Business-minded. Originally the key characteristic of a HRBP is that they were someone who understood a company’s financial goals and worked to create solutions for HR-focused issues. This characteristic still remains highly important in a modern day HRBP, as without a clear business focus and understanding, a HRBP is not adding value.
  • People skills. Now that this role involves more interaction with employees, it means that a HRBP needs engaging social skills. There’s no point in having great ideas if you can’t sell them and communicate them effectively. If the right person is in the role, then they will be able to enable employees to feel safe and motivated in their workplace and more open to change.
  • Self-belief. If you don’t believe in the impact that HR can have on a business or your own influencing skills, then why should other people? If a business is going to reach its targets, everyone in that business needs to believe that they can make a difference. And those differences start with HR!

A change in the role of HRBP

There has been a huge change in the role of HRBP’s today compared to the same role a few years ago. HR was previously considered an extra department that was nice to have a security blanket for everyone else. Now, HR is essential, and businesses are missing out if they do not adopt this new approach.

Convincing people that ‘HR business partner’ is more than just the latest buzzword means being able to demonstrate value in your work, and with the correct skills and attitudes, the benefits that you can bring to a business are truly limitless.

There is still plenty of debate around what makes a successful HR business partner

There is plenty of resource to help you form your own opinion:

Hiring commercial HRBP’s can be especially difficult, if you are having issues please contact me to discuss further, you can email me on James@refind.co.uk

You can view more about James Cumming our HR, Change and Business Transformation specialist here