Food’s ‘Leading the Way’ team said back in March that there were 14 potential alphas that came out of a 3-week discovery. Since then, we’ve been working on 3 of those alphas. These are:
- My Schedule – a service to help colleagues see which days they’re working, book holidays and request extra shifts.
- Task Manager – a digital way to organise tasks.
- How do I? – a single, accessible source of information to help colleagues find out how to do things in stores.
Here’s where we’re up to.
Empowering colleagues with My Schedule
In the discovery, our research showed there was a need for colleagues to see which days they were scheduled to work, request overtime, review their holiday days and book holidays from their own devices. If colleagues could do these things independently, managers would be more free to spend time on things that would be more valuable to their colleagues and customers.
We’re now 5 weeks into a 12-week alpha to explore this. We’re researching and validating our assumptions by designing and building a working prototype with real data, and taking it into stores.
At the moment, colleagues check paper schedules to see when they’re working, and rescheduling or swapping shifts happens through informal channels like WhatsApp.
Our prototype allows colleagues to see their schedules on their own devices. We’re also working on ways to allow customer team members (CTMs) and managers to request and approve holidays, swap shifts and approve any overtime.
So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, but we’re taking everything onboard and will keep iterating.
Taking time back with Task Manager
The discovery showed that regular in-store tasks were taking longer than they would do if they were better organised and all in the same place. There’s an inconsistent system for reminding colleagues to complete tasks and for letting other colleagues know that something’s been done. There are also several channels for tasks so it’s confusing to know where to look.
Since then, we’ve visited colleagues in Manchester stores to find out about their day-to-day routines: how they work together, what they get done and especially what they struggle to get done. We found that there are 76 tasks that need completing regularly.
In order to start designing a product that will be useful, we’re going to run a 5-day design sprint. As with all agile projects, we’re starting small. We’ve chosen one of the 76 tasks: a tool to check the dates on ambient products. We’re going to explore how we can make it easier for colleagues to complete all the necessary date checks.
After 5 days of understanding the current process, mind mapping, sketching ideas and designing we’re confident we’ll have a prototype we can take into stores and test with colleagues. We’re still in the planning stages but we’ll talk more about what we learn when we start testing.
Making information easier to find with ‘How do I?’
The discovery showed that finding out how to do things in store, for example, loading a date gun to transferring stock between stores, was taking colleagues more time than it should.
All the information is on a system called Citrus. At the moment, it’s often buried in a much longer policy, and that policy is often hard to find. A lot of the time it’s not written in plain English either which could be confusing – especially if you’re new to Co-op or English isn’t your first language.
So we’re working on a way to help colleagues find out how to do things quickly and easily. We’ve built a test website which includes a few redesigned, user-focused procedures in different formats. We’re doing regular research in stores to see how colleagues use and react to the information and if something doesn’t work, we change it.
Our early findings have been positive. Colleagues seem to trust it, understand it and feel able to do the thing they didn’t know how to do before.
But, we need to do more work to understand how (and if) colleagues would use the site. There might be better ways to get the information to them at the point they need it. Testing in more stores and having more content on the site should help us with these questions. So we’re working with a team of 6 colleagues seconded from stores to help us write more procedures and we’re expanding our testing group to 40 more stores.
We also have questions around what we call the product, how colleagues can access it securely and how it’ll be hosted. We’re working on the answers.
A good start
At this stage, as with all alphas, there are still unknowns. We’re hoping that by the end of the year all Food store colleagues will be benefiting from at least one of these projects.