Retail Technology

Solution Validation Workshops

During the design phase of any project, one activity that gets the most attention is the delivery of solution workshops. It’s a deliverable that has high visibility and sets a first impression for any SAP Program. Needless to say, it is imperative that they go well!


Get all the requirements from the business. Document your design. Nail down scope. At the end of the day, this is what we drive towards during the Explore phase[1] in an SAP implementation. The effectiveness of your workshop can be assessed before it has been completed. We can get a good indicator of success before it’s even started. It’s all in the preworkshop activities:

  • What are the current business processes?
  • Which steps provide a competitive advantage, if any?
  • What isn’t supported by standard SAP Functionality?
  • What are the business process variations?
  • Do you, the workshop leader, have a point of view?


This is one of those times where we need to have “the meeting before the meeting” and this could mean several of them. It all starts with identifying the key players and knowing your audience.  Who are the subject matter experts? Do we need the Business, IT or both to get this information? This is a seemingly simple task that is often overlooked and underestimated. Depending on the size of your organization, it can be difficult to find who you need for when you need them at the beginning of a project.

Point of View

Armed with the above information and previous implementation experience, we utilize a hypothesis driven workshop based on what the future business process should/could look like. It established our baseline. A point of view on how the solution should look like in the future. It enables us to avoid large requirements gathering session during the workshop. Never work from a blank […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:30:36-04:00 September 20th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail, Retail Technology|Tags: , , |0 Comments

What Does Accountability Mean?

Many times, projects fail due to passing blame.  “She owns that, not me.”  “I can’t do my job because he isn’t doing his.”  What does this really solve?  You guessed it – NOTHING.  In this blog, the traditional definition of accountability will be challenged and I will outline a few tips on how to drive accountability within your team and organization.

The Gap Between Words and Action

Think about what accountability means to you.  Some common definitions include words such as “obligation”, “responsibility”, and “ownership”.  Too often, many align accountability with darker connotations such as “blame”, “liability”, and “punishment”.  It is time to think about accountability differently.  Consider this definition: “A mentality to demonstrate the ownership necessary to achieve defined result criteria.”

Now, let’s push it a little further.  To achieve success, your ownership will require expansion outside of your designated role.  For leaders, portions are easier to understand:  you are responsible for the actions of your team.  However, this idea should expand to our peer relationships.  If you recognize that a peer is failing and it is going to impact results negatively then you are accountable to do something.  That specific “something” depends on the situation and your skillset.

How does this apply to a project setting?  In my past, I was on a project in which the stream (let’s call it Stream A) I was leading had adjacencies to another stream (Stream B) that was being led by a peer.  The leader of Stream B was competent at his business role but had never led an implementation before.  Additionally, he lost a key resource from his team that was supporting the project work.  I had two choices:  sit back and watch OR act.  I am very aware that it would have been easier for me (and my team) to sit […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:32:27-04:00 July 26th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail Technology, Tips & Tricks|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Omni-Customer: The Benefits for the End-User

I’ve spoken about how the SAP Campaign Management suite of tools can help prevent internal data disconnects by assessing the holistic Omni-Channel effect of activities on a particular customer or product. At a macro level one can make a strong benefits case for both business and IT to pursue a capability release strategy aligned to enabling this toolkit.

Equally important to making the business case are the tremendous benefits to your particular user groups that should be accounted for as you undertake this transformation. Communication of a strong value proposition with your user stakeholders will drive better buy-in and corporate adoption of these new solutions. I’ll look at some common business pain points faced by retailers today and provide an opinion on how the Omni-Customer Framework can alleviate or eliminate them.

Transparent Marketing Planning & Offer Consistency:

Retailers, in my personal experience, are tremendously frustrated when a vendor attempts to ‘channel manage’ them. Perhaps a vendor will offer promotional subsidies on a product, but the same product offering is shown by your competitor the week before yours will hit the street. A vendor may limit inventory to you in order to enable support of a competitor with that same product on promotion. This vendor tactic damages the brand positioning of your channels, your customer’s shopping experience, and potentially your bottom line. Retailers will have noticed that having a Multi-Customer infrastructure causes these same problems. Many Category Managers have personally experienced being ‘taken out’ from other internal divisions through offer collisions, conflicts, or have seen their product offering cannibalized by similar products in different channels.

SAP can provide solutions to this common problem by consolidating all marketing events, promotional activity and personalized customer engagement into a single and/or transparent source. SAP CRM provides the base of this framework. Beginning with Campaign Management, […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:32:30-04:00 March 28th, 2017|Categories: Blog, Retail, Retail Technology|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Evaluate & Choose the Right BI Analytics Tool(s) for your Project – Part 1

A Few Things to Consider When Choosing A BI Analytics Tool(s)

In today’s competitive environment proper BI (Business Intelligence) analytics tools are a necessity for a successful company. They assist in effective decision making, automate previously manual processes, and allow the company to focus on analyzing data and defining KPIs to improve business results. This will identify ways to increase operation efficiency and drive revenues.

BI tools also assist companies in early identification of business trends and threats, allowing them to respond quickly to the rapidly changing competitive environment and consumer behaviors.

Choosing your Business Intelligence Analytics tool can be a lengthy process – there are many tools to choose from that all seem to offer similar features. How do you choose the right one for your company’s needs and unique situation?  Below are some of the things to consider when choosing the BI analytics tool(s).

Understand Your Business Needs

Often there is pressure to deploy a new tool as soon as possible, leading to one of the most frequent and impactful mistakes: Getting a tool without carefully analyzing what the specific needs are. The result is significant resources wasted on a tool that doesn’t fulfill your company’s needs. In addition, you still won’t have a tool that works for you!

Business intelligence tools combine a broad set of data analysis applications, including ad hoc analysis, data discovery, enterprise reporting and dashboard functionality, mobile BI, cloud analytics, etc. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.  Keeping that in mind, you should ask yourself: What does the company plan to accomplish with the new BI tool? What features are required; can a standard tool be modified to fit the specific needs of the company?

The needs of the company and the business requirements should be clearly defined and communicated with the vendors who offer the tools. […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:32:32-04:00 December 7th, 2016|Categories: Blog, Retail, Retail Technology|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Magical Thinking Does Not Lead to Project Success

My Definition: Magical Thinking

  1. The belief that despite any rational thought or a review of previous experience everything is going to work out on its own
  2. Decoupling of cause and effect such that desired results occur spontaneously

Or to stretch sports optimism: Your team is down by 10 runs at the top of the ninth inning, but still believing that it’s time for some lucky breaks and with a couple of good hits this game could be yours.  Unfortunately, your team hasn’t hit a thing all night.

Magic Doesn’t Happen

A project of any sort doesn’t suddenly find its footing and turn into an overnight success when it has been stumbling from one setback to another.  Problems always have a root cause when examined closely enough and it’s rare for problems to resolve themselves.  If your timeline is shot and you keeping missing milestones no amount of will power is going to make up the lost time and churn out quality deliverables.

Call it what you want: wishful thinking, magical thinking, hoping that everything turns out OK, thinking that it’s finally time for some good luck.  None of this helps, more likely you’re in denial.

The Road to Reality

Project success stems from an understanding within the team that their contributions make a difference and – perhaps more importantly – an absence of effort is drain on everyone else.  Projects are a team endeavor and hoping that someone else is picking up the slack for you does a disservice to your colleagues.

Also teams are very perceptive organisms.  They sense who has their head in the game, who is trying (and maybe not succeeding), who is coasting and who is riding on the backs of others.  The latter usually leads to a level of distrust and resentment which is never […]

By | 2018-04-23T10:32:33-04:00 December 2nd, 2016|Categories: Blog, Retail, Retail Technology|Tags: , , |0 Comments