It is commonly known that problem identification is the first step of solving any problem. C-Store Managers have reports, experience, Business Intelligence Software and sometimes, even Consultants to help them in this task. Once a problem is defined, the question then becomes, how do we resolve it. This will vary on the type of problem of course but, there is a second process taken in C-Stores to resolve their problems. Issue identification is only the first. Without these other steps there is no point in finding the problem.
LOCATE THE ROOT CAUSE
Once a problem is identified, it is time to investigate what caused it. In a C-Store company, declining sales could be caused by not ordering enough inventory, market demand could be shrinking, or a competitor could be running a promotion on an entire category, etc. Analyzing why a problem is happening can be complex. You need to know what could cause the problem and then investigate those areas. If you do not have an analyst on your staff, this is where Business Intelligence tools come in. They give you quicker access and reporting on what is happening to identify where the core root of the issue may lie.
ADDRESSING THE CAUSE WITH THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR IT
Simply identifying the problem is not enough. Once you know what is causing the issue, it needs to be fixed. This also can be cumbersome. A lot of different things can create a problem. If inventory is ordered at the store level, it could be time to talk to the Store Manager. If market demand is shrinking, perhaps Marketing needs to change their focus. If competitors are undercutting your pricing, perhaps strategies are to be devised by your category management team. Where ever the problem lie, making the responsible party aware of the problem will be key. A manager can show them the reports, and have a meeting with them to discuss resolution tactics but ultimately, they will be the ones taking action to solve the problem. It will require heavy analysis or tools to help them find the core root of it.
MONITOR FOR IMPROVMENT
Here lies the irony in C-Store problem solving. It is the responsible parties that must solve the problems where managers cannot fix the problem for them. However, in the end, managers are ultimately the ones responsible for resolving issues as they arise. Managers must track and monitor the progress to be certain the issue is resolved. This includes the problem and all things that could cause it. It is in this part of the process where they identify underlying issues within the problem. Fixing the underlying issues resolve the problem for the long term. It is where true resolution takes place. Without tools, this can put them in a constant state of analysis. C-Store managers who are successful in problem solving know the importance of this step and take the time to do it. It is no wonder that they are the ones who seek tools to help them do this so they can keep on top of it all.
When it comes to problem solving, most business intelligence tools only take you part way there. When seeking a business intelligence solution, you need to find one that will go beyond identifying the core root and look for one that will take action with the information that it finds.
1) It needs to communicate the problem to those responsible for failing KPI’s to make them aware of it.
2) It needs to have a way for Managers to track the progress of problem solving so they may monitor all issues quickly.
3) It needs to see resolution all the way through to the end for you, by keeping a constant watch and reporting performance levels until
they reach continuous satisfactory levels.