Interview • 04.06.2018

Best friends: digitization and business process management

How retailers can optimize their processes

These two go hand in hand: process optimization and digitization. Their common goal is to simplify and extensively automate processes throughout the company.

In this iXtenso interview, Professor Jörg Becker, Managing Director of the European Research Center for Information Systems ERCIS at the Westphalian Wilhelm University of Münster (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster) explains how retailers can ensure a smooth implementation process.

Professor Becker, what is the best way for companies to start their process optimization?

Companies must look at all business processes from start to finish. The objective is to find out areas where it makes sense to digitize. Prior to that, it is vital to accurately document the current processes. A number of process management methods and tools provide assistance in this endeavor.

A current state analysis is a great starting point – not just to document the processes but also to encourage process thinking in employees and optimize job descriptions based on these processes. This can also build the foundation for a DIN/ISO 9001 quality certification, which emphasizes these processes.

What are the next steps?

Companies want to create relevant target processes. This requires them to take three steps: eliminate, simplify, automate, and exactly in that order. If you automate nonsense, you simply create automated nonsense, but basically it is still all nonsense. Are certain process steps really necessary to fully perform the organizational task at hand? You frequently have process steps that were required as part of a manual process but are completely redundant in a digitized setting.

Companies must subsequently simplify to eliminate the ping-pong effect where a process is passed from department A to B and back again, but instead is completed by one department whenever possible. Once this is the case, the remaining steps can be automated via digital media. This is how you create meaningful target processes.

Who can help retailers with this type of “spring cleaning“?

Process optimization and automation is a unique process, especially when it involves the introduction of new software. That’s why it makes sense to use the help of specialized consulting firms if only to have them ask the right questions and ensure that no steps are overlooked.

Good preparation is everything says Jörg Becker, from the European Research...
"Good preparation is everything" says Jörg Becker, from the European Research Center for Information Systems ERCIS
Source: ERCIS

You have developed a reference model that you use during consultations. Why is that?

Most companies find it difficult to fully reconstruct their processes. This is much easier to do if you can refer to an example. Our reference model delineates the processes of a retail company based on three levels. At the top level, which we call the regulatory framework, we show the retail business core functions, which are procurement, warehousing and sales. They are supported by business management and administration processes involving general and asset accounting, cost accounting and personnel costs and are controlled by management and coordination processes. Each element of the regulatory framework is described in a primary process, the second level, and each element of the primary process is delineated in a detail process level, the third level.

While keeping this model in mind, we are able to conduct step by step interviews with retail companies and facilitate faster process documentation. This makes the process more cost-effective.

Can you give us an example?

All processes in the process model should feature an intelligent structure and documentation, such as a centralized or decentralized procurement structure; invoice payment terms or added refunds; shipping via the company’s own trucks or a logistics company; delivery and payment after order receipt or vice versa. Descriptive attributes are then used to document who executes each respective process step, the number of tasks such as orders, invoices, stock transfers or to define any obvious weak points.

As part of the current state analysis, employees should always be asked where they perceive needed process improvements. They always come up with very clever suggestions. If we store this in the system, we directly obtain starting points for the target process of aspects that need improvement.

Is a software solution sufficient to improve processes?

I am a big fan of integrated solutions. It is easier to add a specific function that is missing in software versus connecting different solutions at different levels with each other. This is a perpetually underestimated aspect. And omnichannel is unimaginable without integrated systems.

Despite all the great tips, process optimization seems to be a big challenge.

Needless to say, process optimization means a lot of initial work for a company but that’s the case with all projects. You first have a mountain of extra work, so that you can work more efficiently later on. After all, do you plan to cut down a tree with a blunt ax because you think you don’t make the time to sharpen the ax?

Are only big companies able to achieve great digitization results?

No. Small companies are also really good at it. A case in point is the new concept “Flaschenpost“ in Münster. The company delivers beverages within two hours from the time customers order by using its app. Flaschenpost understands how to use sophisticated digital techniques to schedule delivery routes, how to schedule the right number of drivers at the right time and have enough delivery vans available for the task.

This example and the much sought-after omnichannel strategy show that process optimization and digitization are two sides of the same coin. They go hand in hand.

Interview: Natascha Mörs, iXtenso - Magazine for Retailers

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail analytics: Breaking down data silos and improving operational...
29.07.2019   #data management #data analysis

Retail analytics: Breaking down data silos and improving operational efficiency

How comprehensive data usage led to higher revenue at Heine

“As a business with heritage in mail order, we used to have access to detailed reports about product performance in our catalogues. Once our digital presence grew, we had very limited information available that combined the KPIs for both our ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Enhanced, interactive, virtual – It’s all about the experience!...
21.11.2019   #online trading #customer satisfaction

Enhanced, interactive, virtual – It’s all about the experience!

AR and VR can boost online and offline retail

New technologies permeate all aspects of the retail business, whether it’s self-checkouts, AI or robotics. Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR and AR) are yet other components in this setting. In this interview with iXtenso, Kelly Goetsch, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: New year brings new regulations
13.09.2019   #data management #receipt printer

New year brings new regulations

What are the big changes for German point of sales systems come 2020?

Big changes are coming to Germany’s point of sale systems starting January 1, 2020. Two terms that are tossed around in this connection are "Belegausgabepflicht" (Receipt Provision Ordinance) and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: drs//POS – The POS system for many check-out situations...
13.09.2019   #pos systems #cashpoints

drs//POS – The POS system for many check-out situations

With the POS system developed by Superdata you are put in the picture

The POS acts as an ear in the store. It affects how timely, and with what information, decision makers at the head office are in a position to assess developments in the store and are able to respond appropriately to the situation.With our POS ...

Thumbnail-Photo: POS machine market growth
27.08.2019   #epos systems #pos systems

POS machine market growth

Driver: Adoption of mobile devices for POS transaction

The number of POS machines has increased in the past four years following the introduction of chip-embedded payment cards & Personal Identification Number (PIN). Moreover, growth in the number of departmental and retail stores, which is fueling ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Retail Asia Conference & Expo (RACE)
07.10.2019   #online trading #retail

Retail Asia Conference & Expo (RACE)

As the leading retail exhibition in Asia, RACE is taken place from 6 – 8 May 2020.

As the leading retail exhibition in Asia, RACE is recognised as the must-join event among the industry’s most influential retailers and customers. RACE features three focus areas: Retail technology, retail design & in-store marketing ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Spar: opening in Copenhagen
30.10.2019   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labelling

Spar: opening in Copenhagen

International Flagship-Store opens for business in Sydhavn, in the South of Copenhagen

On August 22nd, the grocery chain Spar opened its doors to a brand new store with international concepts in the South of Copenhagen area, Sydhavn. The new store offers a modern shopping experience where it should be easy, convenient and enjoyable to ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Smart meters: Be proactive and reap the benefits...
12.08.2019   #energy optimization #electrical installation

Smart meters: Be proactive and reap the benefits

The Metering Point Operation Act calls for smart meter rollout

The black and analog electric meter box has become obsolete: The mandatory smart meter rollout will commence in a few months. What does the installation of digital, smart electric meters mean for retailers and chain stores? ...

Thumbnail-Photo: App creates personalised shopping experience...
26.08.2019   #mobile payment #app

App creates personalised shopping experience

The Swiss trading company Valora is opening its first cashless convenience store

The goods are chosen, scanned and paid for using the avec smartphone app. Mobile computer vision specialists Scandit’s scan engine is a key component of the customer-facing app. The future of shopping - whether online or offline - is ...

Thumbnail-Photo: “Money left on the table”
19.11.2019   #customer satisfaction #customer analysis

“Money left on the table”

Mark Thomson from Zebra explains why stock management is essential for retailers

Zebra Technologies Corporation did a study on attitudes of shoppers and their buying behavior. It shows that more than half of Generation X shoppers shopped in a store and left without a purchase only to end up purchasing the item ...

Supplier

Permaplay Media Solutions GmbH
Permaplay Media Solutions GmbH
Aschmattstr. 8
76532 Baden-Baden
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn
Superdata GmbH
Superdata GmbH
Ruhrstr. 90
22761 Hamburg
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven