Is your retail business still using time-consuming spreadsheets to forecast your workforce needs? Do you use a range of workforce management (WFM) tools that rely on accurate forecasts to perform at their best? Do you want to add granular labour planning insights to your existing WFM set up while reducing your forecast error rate? If so, this article is for you.
Read on to discover how REPL’s cutting-edge workforce planning software, ADAPT, delivers highly accurate workforce planning in a fraction of the time for your entire retail estate.
What is ADAPT?
ADAPT is workforce planning software built specifically for the retail industry. It takes businesses from applying top-down estimations to modelling bottom-up labour forecasts for an entire year or more.
As REPL’s Chairman, Mike Callender explains: “ADAPT is all about helping retailers plan their labour to a new level of granularity by using the latest technology including machine learning. The software gives labour planners exactly what they’ve always wanted: they’re empowered to create multiple what-if branches and compare the results before promoting to the production branch.”
How is ADAPT Advancing Workforce Planning?
In the past, retailers have relied on spreadsheets to model labour in a single store or group of stores for a short period of time, usually a few weeks or months. Limited data results in the need to make assumptions which allows errors to creep in to the calculations.
Then, when the data is extrapolated and modelled to account for the entire workforce, small spreadsheet errors are compounded. Leading to significant error rates, usually of around 25-30%.
With ADAPT, businesses can run real calculations, rather than extrapolating and rounding up. Which significantly reduces the error rate. This is particularly powerful for those organisations with tens or hundreds of thousands of employees.
ADAPT’s real power lies in its ability to factor in changes in the service model and work them through to understand each option’s financial impact. And with machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) at the heart of the system, ADAPT is able to better forecast the drivers of labour. For example, by anticipating the number of people who will visit the store and factors like the weather or events that will impact footfall and sales. What’s more, with serious computing power driving the software, ADAPT empowers you to run several years of workforce plans to understand the impact on labour costs well into the future.
ADAPT Saves Time
Our customers often tell us that creating a next quarter, store-level draft budget takes about 12 weeks. That usually involves spending lots of time adding data to various versions of a spreadsheet and emailing them backwards and forwards between departments.
With ADAPT, this timescale is reduced to just three weeks. And the model is built for the entire organisation bottom up, store by store.
How is this possible? Because everyone who needs input has access to a single online model. Adjust one of the branches and you can log in and see the changes everyone has made. Making this a highly collaborative and efficient way of working.
ADAPT Improves Workforce Planning Accuracy
Unlike spreadsheets, ADAPT empowers you to frequently amend and run the model multiple times each day. By comparing the latest construction against earlier versions, your team will be able to see the impact of different approaches and gain valuable insight as they work.
Using ML to crunch huge amounts of real data, the mean average percentage error (MAPE) decreases significantly. Usually from the high twenties to just single digit error rates. For one major food retailer we work with, ADAPT reduced the MAPE from 22% to 7%.
Why is MAPE important? “Because you can do as much workforce planning as you like but if you’ve got an error rate of 36%, you’re planning against an inaccurate number and a lot of your WFM will be flawed,” says Mike. This is certain to knock on to service levels and profit.
By reducing your MAPE, you have the opportunity to plan against something that’s far more accurate. This is particularly helpful for retailers that want to drive effective change from the centre. As Mike notes: “If you say we need to spend 10% less on labour this week, every manager will take that out in a different way, some more effectively than others. Whereas specifying which tasks your team won’t do this week because they don’t drive enough customer value ensures everyone’s delivering the same service levels across all sites.”
ADAPT Enhances the Bottom Line
When a hospitality retailer approached REPL to find ways to save money, the team used ADAPT to analyse which tasks were adding value and which weren’t. Mike recalls: “We worked out it was costing them around £1m a year to wrap cutlery in napkins. The customer saw no benefit in this because the first thing they had to do was unwrap the cutlery.” Thanks to ADAPT, this business now provides napkins and cutlery separately: customers notice no difference but the business has freed up £1m of labour.
But ADAPT’s influence doesn’t stop there: it also ensures your business has the right level of staffing which, as Mike explains, drives improved customer service levels and enhanced profit: “We tend to find that most retailers are planning flatter than their real demand. By using ADAPT’s enhanced forecasting, one of our sports retail clients was able to identify demand more accurately. This helped them redistribute their labour, enhancing service, sales and repeat business without costing extra money.”
ADAPT Works With Your Existing WFM Software
With all these benefits on offer, it sounds like ADAPT could require a major overhaul of your existing systems. But that’s not the case.
The great thing about ADAPT is that it successfully plugs in to all the main workforce management solutions. It adds a much more powerful planning engine to the front end of your current WFM software investment, empowering your existing systems to implement better time and attendance.
In effect, ADAPT supercharges your existing WFM software helping you to secure all the benefits mentioned above and deliver a better return on your current systems’ investment.
Who Benefits Most from ADAPT?
Experience shows us that ADAPT works for retailers who are well down the WFM path with all the skills required to do the work. What’s missing is the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle. A piece that replaces frustrating and time consuming spreadsheets with sophisticated what-if modelling that allows you to branch the labour model.
ADAPT is that missing piece. It’s the tool that will empower your labour planners to make the most of their time and expertise by enabling them to:
- Collaborate on data entry, what-if analysis and to branch the existing labour model
- Take your current production branch and copy it into a new model, test it and commit it back into production
- Spend time generating valuable business insight that saves time, enables workforce planning accuracy and enhances the bottom line
Not sure if ADAPT is the software to supercharge your workforce management systems? We challenge you to share this article with your labour planning team and get their feedback. When their faces light up, get in touch on +44 (0) 808 200 7375 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.