The last post on the Causes of Retail Project Failure, could paint a pretty dim picture.  But there are ways to improve the odds of project success. Here are four ways retail leaders can keep retail projects on track. Key tactics for making sure your retail projects succeed.

    1. Create Full-Time Process Owners.  When individual functions try to create business improvements, they often do so without seeing the end-to-end impact across other areas. That leads to optimizing one portion of the process while suboptimizing the entire process overall.  Creating ownership for the end-to-end process ensures that someone is providing critical oversight and prioritization to improving the outcome of an entire process. (Think of the promotional process. Improving promo forecasts also require responsibility for planning and execution down to the store level.) Real business change happens when someone owns the outcome of a process and not just the completion of a project.
    2. Create Permanent “Change the Business” Resources.  It is delusional to think the same resources that efficiently run the day to day retail business can create transform it. Even creating  incremental improvements in how work is done is infrequent.  Best in class retailers use a 10 to 1 ratio. One person is dedicated full time to changing business technology, processes and metrics for every ten running the business. This change the business role should be a required career assignment and last from 18-36 months.  And NO – you cannot ask everyone to do their “regular” job 90% of the time and change it 10% of the time.  I have never seen that work.
    3. Develop Risk Adjusted ROI’s.  To combat expectations, ensure that ROI’s are weighted for difficult to measure risk factors. Examples include historical adoption rates, previous project team success rates, technology stability, political leadership and other “unmeasurables” that affect the project’s outcome.  An enlightened steering committee challenges business cases and apportions funding into digestible chunks that can be corrected for risk over time. Importantly, measure the ROI delivery after the project ends. Nothing motivates a project team like knowing their delivery will be measured and reported. And tied to future career opportunities.
    4. Hold Executives Accountable throughout their career.  No one is going to slow down the trajectory of a high-powered executive.  But set the expectation that an initiative created under the executive sponsorship of a person remains with them despite a career change. This will help keep executive guidance and leadership constant throughout the length of a project.  The great Store Manager Training project created by the VP of Stores remains his responsibility even if he becomes the SVP of HR, for example. Or the supply chain technology implementation remains the responsibility of the VP of Supply Chain even if she moves to Merchandising or COO.

    I have seen all of these tactics implemented. They greatly improve the return on investments made to improve retail business technology and practices.