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Work Force Solution Super Critical In Developed Markets: Kronos
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Work Force Solution Super Critical In Developed Markets: Kronos  
The work-force culture in India, needs to imbibe operations efficiently to manage costs.   
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Thursday, July 26, 2012 The Indian retail sector has finally realised the importance of work-force management solution and its effectiveness. Back-end logistics have always been considered a major challenge in India. This is where the likes of Kronos have enabled retailers like Croma in India to function efficiently with their expertise in handling the work force. EFYTimes spoke to James Thomas, country head, Kronos India, as he elaborates on the varied technicalities of the brand’s profile and highlights the importance of effective management solutions.

Kronos India, Croma, Infiniti Retail Limited, James Thomas, work-force management, retail, process, dimension, consumer electronics

What is Kronos all about and how many retail clients do you have across the globe?

Kronos is synonymous to operational HR. We have been in this business for more than 35 years and the retail sector contributes around 20 to 22 percent to our global revenue. More than 50 to 60 of the top 100 retailers have implemented our solutions.

Tell us about the latest workforce management solutions that you have deployed at Croma?

Workforce management is a single solution. There can be different dimensions to how you manage people. So what you see in time and absence are two dimensions, there are also other dimensions. When someone walks into a Croma Store, for instance, it's a high-touch environment, where customer experience really makes a difference. First layer is regarding footfall - who walks in, what he buys. We refer to this as the potential conversion rate.

Now if he walks in to buy a 32 inch screen but goes out with a 64 inch screen, that's what is called an average transaction size going up.

These are critical measures of customer experience. Companies need the right kind of employees at the right time, at the right place. It is important that employees are properly trained and they spend more customer facing time. So time is one dimension. Second is employee absence- where employees take leave and don't even bother to inform the employer. It can be detrimental to the business. The third dimension, which is the most critical is scheduling. We help businesses manage all these dimensions effectively.

Could you define the entire process of work force management in detail?

For Kronos, workforce management is all about real time 360 degree view around these dimensions, which make things happen in a retail store. How well are you managing the customers, how well you are doing your business, what is the customer experience you are offering- all these aspects are inter-related to the 360 degree view on how engaged are your employees in achieving these objectives.

These days with companies opening multiple stores, store managers actually run the stores like CEO. It is pretty much a decentralised store operation that you will find at every retail outlet. The manager takes care of the entire show right from the time employees come, their absence, placing them at the right places, and managing the sales. Hence, he is mostly consumed in all these operations, which ultimately means that he does not even spend 5 per cent of his time in meeting customers. He is glued to the back office, figuring these things out. What Kronos has done in the first phase at Croma is that we have tried to simplify this process in two ways. One is to ensure that Croma across the country, which today has 15 locations and 75 stores has a centralised view to what's going on across the country.

Not only for these current stores, but as they add more stores it is extended to them as well- it is like plug and play of getting visibility of what's going on from people’s dimension perspective.

Then, centralising the entire dimension of people management even at the operational store front.

You have been talking about dimensions. Can you enlighten us about the processes involved?

The first dimension is automation to gain a centralised view so that things can be planned better, whether it's the operations team, HR leadership or the business leadership itself. They have a much better view because people in the stores are the ones who make the difference. They are the people who are meeting customers and making the sales happen.

The second dimension, which currently we are enabling, is to get some basic level of scheduling in. The basic level of scheduling is to get a simple pattern based schedule or how the shifts run so that you have a view on people's movement.

Placing the right people at the right time has a lot of other constraints too, which happens in the second phase of what we call retail optimisation. At this point in time we have not gone into optimisation.

We want to get the first building blocks ready so it's a basic scheduling in terms of knowing how they are today placing people at the basic level- both at the employee level and at the store level. From store manager upwards, they can very easily, in a few minutes, schedule and view these things and change the schedules accordingly.

Once these things are connected, it slashes the need for manual reconciliation and consolidation where people end up spending a lot of time sitting in front of papers and excel sheets to review. With our intervention, there is minimum manual intervention on a daily basis and reconciliation and approval happens in real time, so that you are not left with pending piled data at the end of the month.

How does Croma benefit from this entire mechanism?

This makes for centralised visibility and simplified processes. Functions take much lesser time enabling better customer handling experiences for employees with customers. Our next phase would be optimisation.

So when does the next phase start?

We are already in talks with the company about moving onto the next phase. This phase we talked about is already in place at the Croma stores live.

In India, the retail sector is not yet exposed to this sort of solution. Companies are still in their early phase. Moreover, Indian employees are also not used to these sort of things, which actually help them. Employees need time to get used to the change.

One thing I would like to highlight is its also about employment engagement and the technology aspect around this in terms of how we are enabling engagement in the new-age workforce.

Today, a worker who comes into a retail store and works is possibly a 20 year old or 25 year old. He wants to be informed about every minute information available. So, the way he works, he does not have the patience to call-up helpline or wait for the information to come to him. Employees nowadays look for instant engagement and Kronos today, with these sort of solutions is increasing that level of instant engagement. It enables them to know things with a click.

When you talk about workforce management, is this one solution, wherein you can pick and choose the kind of modules that are relevant to a business?

We are in the human capital management domain. It is all about managing people in a better manner. So in that space, one part of the solution addresses the historical point of view of employees, which means, we have the entire background of each and every employee working with the company. So the entire area of core employee data is stored in historical applications, which are a part of the process.

There are applications like payroll, which churns out the pay-slip for you. They do computation on your monthly working data.

The real-time operational dimension, which happens everyday in a retail store is what workforce management all about.

Aadeetya  S, EFYTIMES News Network

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