Innovations: Labor optimization

Town of Brookfield-based RedPrairie Corp. recently introduced the Workload Planner component of its Workforce Management solution. The company says Workload Planner will improve the workload scheduling process by allowing companies to manage workloads on an individual store and task basis.

“Basically it gives retailers the ability to optimize workload planning from a bottom up perspective,” said Mike Lynch, director of retail business strategy for execution management at RedPrairie. “Right now the challenge many retailers face is that the only way they can manage a huge store workload is through a manual process, which is often really time consuming or complex.”

According to Lynch, Workload Planner simplifies the process by allowing company leaders to optimize the return on labor for each individual store by calculating the amount of labor needed to complete the tasks.

“It allows us to come up with an actual cost for each store, instead of relying on an average number that may or may not put us over budget,” Lynch said.

“Previously, retailers relied on complicated manual efforts to manage each store’s workload,” said Noel Goggin, vice president of store execution management applications for RedPrairie. “These processes were not only time consuming, but often resulted in costly inconsistencies such as overloading stores with work, or failing to leverage available resources. With workload planner you know right away if you are going to exceed budget on a store, and then using the software you can create “what-if” scenarios and adjust the business rules to avoid exceeding budget.”

Workload Planner can develop a hypothetical scenario analysis on project timing, content, priority and phrasing, Lynch said.

“Because they can virtually schedule every single store, very quickly each week they can prioritize projects over time by comparing the demand for labor to capacity by each store,” he said.

Workload Planner takes what used to be a very complex and inefficient process and allows for a more efficient scheduling procedure that reduces costs, Lynch said.

“You can get a much higher compliance rate on the work that you are asking them to do, on time and as designed as opposed to running late or not fully completing the task,” he said.

RedPrairie has completed implementation of Workload planner at Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Borders Group Inc., and is actively engaged with others to begin implementing the software solution, Lynch said.

“Workload Planner has made a significant difference in our optimization efforts by improving our ability to gatekeep at the corporate office and moving our organization away from a one-size-fits-all store operations approach,” said Jenny Lovin, vice president of operations and service for Borders Group. “In the past, we had to use the same estimate at every store when planning and communicating work. Now, each store’s tasks are scheduled according their individual ability to handle work. The result has been an increase in efficiency, productivity and compliance.”

As part of RedPrairie’s Workforce management solution, the cost of the product varies depending on the size of the company, the number of stores, and the number of components added. It works best for retail companies and is just starting to be introduced to the food service market, Lynch said.

“In this economy, every retailer is really struggling to optimize the available labor that they have,” he said. “Workload Planner is the best possible way to make sure that the investments each retailer is making are spent the best possible way.” 


Town of Brookfield

Innovation: Workload Planner software

Founded: 1975

Employees: 1,300 (2008)

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