The Digital Business Kit for Retailers
Retailers will understand how Cloud based services can address issues related to their businesses and help them achieve business goals. [printfriendly]
Plan your Cloud
Time required for this step?
The time you will invest at this stage depends on your goals, processes and organisation. Some companies can quickly identify areas they know will benefit from change and will be able to research basic options, set goals, train/tell staff and deploy in a day. Others may need more time.
It is suggested to review this entire page and complete the steps as an exercise before deploying a solution. It can also be helpful to have a project leader who leads the process, collaborates with staff, shares learning and assists in training the other staff on platforms of choice.
Make this an empowering, inclusive process and reward all involved as your company moves into the Cloud.
1. Process review: identifying a starting place
- A Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) may be a solution if you or your staff need to access customer data easily, from anywhere.
- Data storage may be a solution if you and your team need online document sharing.
- Cloud backup may be a solution if your business’ data is all on one server or you backup your data infrequently.
Go through your company’s day-to-day processes and note where processes are being repeated, or time is spent waiting for someone to send something electronic.
- Designate a staff member to own the standard process, documents and procedures to create your own standard operating guide for your business.
- Invite your staff to participate. It will help them to get a better perspective of the processes and ensure they will use the new system.
THE IDEAL: The outcome doesn’t have to be a long, complex technical outline – just an idea of basic functionality to help you research solutions next.
2. Research and reviewing solutions
- Document based: Do you store and share documents and files? Where is that document? Is this the latest version of the document? Who is editing this document now? Click to see document solutions.
- Data driven: Do you need to know about your inventory levels right now? Accounting? Invoicing? Case testing? Lab numbers, etc. Click for more.
- Application based: Do you make software applications, run large data tests? Click for more.
- Customer service based: Are you overwhelmed with customer calls and service requests that get manually entered, tracked and responded to? Click for more.
- General: Need a little bit of all of the above? Click for more.
- Project manager tools: Click for more.
- Use a free Demo of a Cloud system to test features.
- Before you make a decision check the next section on measurable goals.
- COST – there are often “Freemium” (free versions) versions that are offered for little or no cost, that will work for small companies with fewer demands.
3. Create measurable goals
- Choose a final solution.
- Deploy the solution you pick.
- Measure if the solution is working and if it is providing a return on investment (paying for itself and hopefully saving you time/money/ improving process).
HOW? This step will be unique to your business, processes and the solutions being reviewed.
- Current Process: eg: Time: How long is it taking to access shared files, customer records or run a program? Security scenarios?: What would happen if your computers crashed? Cost: What are your phone charges and travel costs?
- Cloud: Document scenarios with a Cloud solution and measure the same processes. Some examples are very obvious such as waiting for a colleague to send you a file or transferring the file from one device to another. Other scenarios are valued in different ways such as loss of all of your data. Try to relate the Cloud solutions to your current processes.
- Goals: Create measurable goals. eg: Time: If your organisation is spending X time now and you expect Cloud to reduce it to Y with a savings of Z. State Z as a goal to measure. Cost: Current cost X minus cost of Cloud solution Y. (TIP: Attaching $ to time savings can be helpful.)
- Make goals with easy to use metrics like cost, frequency and add in timelines to achieve goals.
- Include cost of Cloud application plus training time to learn the new system.
- You may want to create your own spreadsheet matrix to compare your current process and what the new solution can do.
4. Platform choices
- Demo: Try the solution first. A demo of the platform will allow you to see how the program works in relation to your company, processes, budget and more.
- Reliability and security: Does the provider have a quality of service guarantee (e.g. guaranteed up time) and reliability track record? (years in business, testimonials, high quality user list). The suppliers provided in the resource section of this website are industry leaders.
- Scale ability: Can the Cloud solution grow with your needs?
- Contracts: Can you cancel if you are not satisfied, or are you locked into a long term contract? Are price levels guaranteed? Are there usage caps or increments?
- ROI (Return On Investment): Does the Cloud solution produce sufficient quantifiable benefits to justify its adoption?
- Make sure your staff has capacity at every level – eg: Do they have required devices, training etc.?
- Project leader: As noted in step 1 it is useful to have a leader who has vetted the options, included staff and can train the rest of the team on how to use the platform. Equally as important is education on why proper use will be beneficial.
- Who needs training: Training staff is obvious, but make sure to have help documents and update communications sent to anyone else affected – this may include letting customers know about a new login process (if you are installing a new CRM), vendors, partners, etc. Go through the process documents and make sure everyone who will be affected by this new upgrade is notified. This can be as simple as an email.
- Tools to train:
- Use the Cloud manuals and help function: even simple free programs should have great “how to” manuals.
- As the project manager is picking the Cloud tool of choice and completing the process review they can use “screen shot” tools to capture screen images of the tool dashboard/features to paste into a custom company manual.
- Document communications with any current users who will be affected.
- Save the “all in one document”: This is the document that the project leader has created with all your logins, URLs, and application contact person where applicable. Save it and share with your staff where this document is stored. Ideally it is in a wiki or ongoing document that contains all of your companies critical logins and instructions etc. (succession document).
- Review and update: Review your platform against goals set, ask the team about its functionality. If you upgrade – upgrade everyone as needed on new functionality. Collect feedback.
- As you are getting ready to deploy make sure your team is comfortable and also understand this system is not set in stone – additions, edits, etc. are always welcome.
- Consider a phased approach (based on deployment scale) to allow users to still use “the old system” for X amount of time.
- Test: It is recommended to first test the system. Create a few scenarios and go through the process from start to finish with all staff until everyone is comfortable. Test all the critical elements of your unique process. When everyone reports back with being ready with using the new system, then deploy.
i) Send communications of new system.
ii) Set new system live.
- Feedback and help: Establish a person to help with user and staff questions.
- Deployment is as complex as the solution you and your organisation choose. A simple deployment like using Google docs or Dropbox will have very minimal resource requirements. Just reminding staff to use it and referring them to help documents may suffice. If you are deploying a much larger system that affects a larger part of how your staff conduct day to day operations, there may be more time required to fully deploy and work out the user “kinks”.