GDS International - Scheduling for Outcomes with Reflexis


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Reflexis provides workforce management applications and specializes in
the retail industry. Nucleus examined the company’s scheduling
capabilities, including new capabilities announced at NRF 2012, to identify
the impact of Reflexis on one of the most challenging tasks in retail.
Analysts found that by enhancing scheduling capabilities with non-
standard information from sources such as traffic intelligence, RFID
systems, loss prevention cameras, and social media sources, Reflexis
enables retailers to achieve benefits that go beyond cost minimization,
including better customer engagement and increased profitability.

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GDS International - Scheduling for Outcomes with Reflexis

  1. 1. January 2012 Document M3RESEARCH NOTESCHEDULING FOR OUTCOMES WITH REFLEXISTHE BOTTOM LINEReflexis provides workforce management applications and specializes inthe retail industry. Nucleus examined the company’s schedulingcapabilities, including new capabilities announced at NRF 2012, to identifythe impact of Reflexis on one of the most challenging tasks in retail.Analysts found that by enhancing scheduling capabilities with non-standard information from sources such as traffic intelligence, RFIDsystems, loss prevention cameras, and social media sources, Reflexisenables retailers to achieve benefits that go beyond cost minimization,including better customer engagement and increased profitability.Employee scheduling is one of the most poorly supported HR-related tasksperformed by retailers. Schedules, which are typically created two to three weeksin advance and modified on the day of operation based on in-store conditions, areoften built by managers without any automated support. Manual schedule creationmeans managers spend too much time creating schedules and cannot consider allthe variables required to identify the appropriate employees for each shift. Seekingto minimize the effects of scheduling mistakes and staffing shortages, manymanagers pad their workforce with extra employees, increasing payroll andbenefits costs. When managers have access to automated scheduling tools, theseapplications are typically focused on cost minimization at the expense of otheroperational objectives such as customer satisfaction levels or sales goals.Although making cost a priority in scheduling decisions can reduce payroll costs,Nucleus found that cost is only one important variable that should be considered.Retailers are not in business to minimize payroll costs; they are in business to sellproducts, provide customer service, and maximize customer satisfaction levels.Nucleus found that although most scheduling applications correctly identify theleast-cost available employee, they often incorporate too few scheduling variablesand are unable to help managers identify the employees who provide the bestcustomer service and have the best sales skills.REFLEXISReflexis is a workforce management vendor providing capabilities in areas thatinclude time and attendance, scheduling, task management, and employee self-service tools. The company specializes in solutions for large and mid-sizedretailers, manufacturers, and merchandise service organizations. Reflexis hasthree scheduling-related capabilities:Corporate Headquarters Nucleus Research Inc.Nucleus Research Inc. NucleusResearch.com100 State StreetBoston, MA 02109Phone: +1 617.720.2000
  2. 2. January 2012 Document M3 Reflexis Task Manager builds schedules based on demands arising from corporate initiatives such as sales promotions, merchandising programs, loss prevention controls, store resets, and product recalls. Reflexis Workforce Manager integrates task-management data with data sets such as budgets, forecasts, and time and attendance data to automate the creation of schedules on a store-by-store basis. Breadth of data source integration is also a significant component of Reflexis’s scheduling capabilities. Task Manager and Workforce Manager capabilities can be integrated with data sources related to employee skill sets, store-by-store forecasts, and time and attendance. Adaptive Real-Time Technology, announced by Reflexis at the NRF 2012 show, enables the integration of scheduling applications with nonstandard data sources. Cameras can be used to monitor in-store conditions and anticipate bottlenecks in individual departments or at the check-out areas. Local traffic and weather information can also be used to anticipate significant changes in shopper volumes, so that managers can adjust schedules or task assignments accordingly.BENEFITS OF REFLEXIS SCHEDULINGWhen Nucleus evaluated Reflexis’s expanded scheduling capabilities, analystsidentified functionality which was focused on business outcomes rather than merelyidentifying the least-cost available employee. Benefits of focusing on broader setsof data sources and desired outcomes included increased customer satisfactionlevels, higher revenues, and increased productivity for employees and managers.Higher revenuesManagers can increase their store’s sales by analyzing sales-related KPIs in Reflexisand assigning shifts to the teams and individuals most capable of providingcustomer service that result in sales. Reflexis capabilities improve schedulingeffectiveness by analyzing a broad variety of data sources. Traditional datasources include historical sales volumes, employee-specific sales results, andpromotions. Non-traditional data sources include camera-based data on shopperactivity and information on which members of a chain’s loyalty program are in thestore. By combining data related to customer volumes, sales volumes, andemployee data points other than costs, managers can create schedules based onsales related metrics such as conversions per hour or revenues per customer visit.Use cases for increasing sales with Reflexis identified by Nucleus include: A major health club chain can use Reflexis to ensure that each facility has the right number and combination of support staff, sales staff, and personal trainers on hand during the holiday season to maximize sales of new memberships and personal training services. Big-box retailers can use Reflexis to identify high-value store visitors such as customers who are undertaking large renovations or tend to have high levels of purchasing volumes. Individual department managers can also increase sales by using the application to identify when sales peaks occur and adjusting schedules accordingly.Increased customer satisfactionCustomer satisfaction levels can be improved when retailers use Reflexis to ensurethat an adequate number and combination of workers is on hand for theanticipated level of shopping activity. For example, increased volumes at check-© 2012 Nucleus Research, Inc. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is 2
  3. 3. January 2012 Document M3out areas can be anticipated by using camera-based data to monitor the volume ofincoming and outgoing customers. By reassigning staff to check out areas whenbottlenecks are likely to occur, managers can ensure that customer wait timesaren’t too long. Other use cases for improving customer service with Reflexisinclude: Supermarket chains can use Reflexis to respond to changing in-store conditions. If customer volumes in individual departments go above a certain threshold, the application prompts managers to reassign staff from departments that are less busy. Staff reassignments are also prompted whenever customer wait-times in the check-out areas get too long. Chains with locations that have smaller staffs can use Reflexis to anticipate and plan for truck deliveries on a store-by-store basis. By better anticipating truck arrival times and improving the processes for unloading trucks and shelving new inventory, managers can ensure that enough workers are available for customer assistance and checkout.Better task management is another way Reflexis helps managers improve customerservice. Although a manager may be effective in building schedules and fillingshifts according to anticipated customer volumes, a portion of staff are oftendiverted to corporate tasks such as such as in-store events or merchandisingprograms. By anticipating such activities, managers can ensure they have enoughstaff on hand for customer-facing sales and servicing activities. Large chainsfrequently run in-store product promotions; Reflexis can be used to both ensurethe promotions don’t disrupt customer service levels and that sales associates takeadvantage of cross-selling opportunities.Increased employee productivityAccomplishing more with fewer workers is a measurable benefit when managersuse Reflexis to adjust staff assignments based on the number of shoppers in astore and what they are doing. The ability to rapidly reassign employees based onchanging in-store conditions has two benefits. First, by operating a store withfewer employees, the productivity of each customer-facing employee is increased.Better able to fully staff a store with fewer employees regardless of unforeseenconsequences, managers are less likely to pad their available workforce, a practicewhich increases benefits costs. Reduced overtime is a second benefit. The abilityto accommodate for unanticipated increases in store activity, combined withinformation on which employees are approaching overtime at any given time,means Reflexis users are better able to avoid unnecessary overtime expenditures.Reduced time spent on scheduling tasks is another source of increased employeeproductivity. Web-based availability of scheduling capabilities, user interfaces thatrequire no training, and mobile capabilities all minimize the amount of timeemployees dedicate to scheduling activities such as bidding for shifts, changingshifts, or publishing availability for shifts.Increased manager productivityBy enabling managers to consider a large number of complex variables, Reflexisimproves the productivity of managers who build schedules. In many retailorganizations, managers build schedules manually or rely on relatively rudimentaryscheduling tools. While the drawbacks to manual scheduling are obvious, there arealso problems with using scheduling tools which cannot handle high levels of© 2012 Nucleus Research, Inc. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is 3
  4. 4. January 2012 Document M3complexity. Although many of the leading workforce management vendors providescheduling capabilities, these tools are often based on algorithms developed formanufacturers or supply chain firms, limiting the number of variables that can beconsidered in an analysis. By increasing the number of scheduling variables frombetween four and five to up to a dozen, Reflexis dramatically reduces the amountof time managers spend on scheduling decisions.CONCLUSIONRetailers using scheduling tools that focus only on identifying the least-costavailable employee should consider technology that can handle more schedulingvariables and objectives. By enabling managers to build schedules based ondesired outcomes such as customer service levels or sales volumes, Reflexisenables retailers to broaden the range of operational objectives its managers canachieve. By increasing the variety and complexity of data sources used inscheduling decisions with its Adaptive Real-Time technology, Reflexis also increasesmanager productivity while improving decision making.© 2012 Nucleus Research, Inc. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is 4