Off the Shelf provides a platform for Retailers and Consumer Packaged Goods companies to discuss and gain insights on the pressing problems, trends and solutions.

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August 26, 2013

It's time to explore and deliver IT specialty services and depth capabilities to your retail customers to save their residual operational expenses:

There has been huge shift on the expectations from Retailers when it comes to project delivery and expectations from their IT service providers. I would segregate into three phases.  8 - 9 years before, IT service providers has been delivering what clients wants and mostly paid for the hourly work done, no commitments on delivery, no productivity, client is accountable for all the execution and delivery. In recent 5 - 6 years, there has been paradigm shift on the expectation where clients were expecting certain managed services where IT service providers expected to deliver projects end to end with certain commitments, SLA, Penalty, etc. Where there has been common and great challenge to deliver a web or software development project on time, on budget, and within scope, IT Service provider's partner with clients and they are able to achieve this status of official project success. IT Service providers realize that an any delivery can be managed end to end as long as there has been clear expectation, Roles, Responsibilities defined between all stakeholders and IT service providers used few tools like Expectation Management, Value based delivery instead of Time based delivery, Risk analyzers, etc.

In the recent days, apart from the managed services, I strongly believe that IT service providers should proactively identify avenues to reduce the overall operational cost/expenses (As-is or To-be) and identify measures to get the ROI quicker as early as possible. This is applicable for both Development programs and Support operational programs. When it comes to Development programs, rather than executing requirements what business is giving, provider should give proactive recommendation thru' governing committee and few example are - incase if Application is developed and hosted in Server which is hitting EOL, there should be proactive recommendation, also, if there's a legacy technologies, there should be recommendation to move to scalable, future centric technologies and also probably for hosting in cloud for virtualizations to avoid Physical server dependencies, wherever possible recommendation on functional rationalization, technology rationalization, scalable architecture and if there are any Mainframe jobs or residual applications used zero level or very minimal, there should be governing to challenge and help in assisting sun setting the residuals (Apps or jobs, etc). Also, when it comes to Support, bring in methodologies to reduce Ticket arrival pattern proactive ticket closure, Ticket Shift Left closure where calls are not un-necessarily shift forwarded. Some of these thoughts will really help your customers to minimize or reduce their IT cost/expenses.

August 23, 2013

Adopting metrics based Release Management assist cost cutting due to production shut downs

Adopting metrics based Release Management assist cost cutting due to production shut downs


I have seen many customers adopting agile development followed by releasing to production in an ad-hoc way especially it creates large impact for retail customers. Release management address key dimensions around RM Specific justification, RM specific prioritization, and RM specific specification of any application that comprises ecommerce portfolio. I would certainly convey that Application development is all about discipline and philosophy itself by adopting various gating criteria's, metrics, measurement and on top of this, if there are certain metrics and measures adopted for release management, it would further reduce the production downs, in my past experience, we have followed certain metrics like % of total releases per project, % per priority (Standard, Emergency, Hotfix) per project/overall, % of release type (Full, Delta, Hot-Fix, Data Change, etc) per project/overall, % Success Rate / % Back out Rate per project/overall , % of RFC with insufficient documentation/approvals per project/overall , % of milestones achieved , % of scope change , % of change in effort , % of process failure , % of releases shipped on time , % of release first time fit for purpose , Adherence to communication plan target 95% compliance , Adherence to release management process compliance target 95% , Incidents Post Deployment per release ,Problem solved within the releases , Incidents solved per release via workaround , Quarterly Success/Failure Rates ,Cancelled Releases ,Releases During Black-Out/Freeze Periods ,Yearly Release Comparisons to past years ,Feature Enhancement Breakdowns per project area. I would certainly encourage to bring in principles to measure and monitor these RM specific KPIs and Metrics to arrive better signals to arrest before failure.  End of the day - Release management area of ecommerce requires attention on the capability to get work started on the right way, the ability to prioritize a lengthy queue of requests, and the ability to specify what to build/when to build, etc. Also, adopting the above mentioned KPIs and metrics helps in setting up the failure alarms and so that failures can be prevented upfront , there by avoid un-necessary cost on rework.


August 15, 2013

Engage your customer with a relevant experience

Relevance is no longer limited to identifying what the customer wants- it is also about when the customer wants something. Companies need to correlate data, in real time, from several sources like Twitter, LinkedIn, facebook and point-of-sale data to create a unified view of the customer.

In April, 2013 Infosys conducted a survey of 5,000 digital-savvy consumers across the globe, on their preferences & concerns of being engaged digitally. 72 percent of these consumers felt online promotions and emails they receive do not speak to their interests or needs ("mark as spam" anyone?). Yet 78 percent would purchase from a retailer again if they received offers that target their interests, wants or needs.

Some customers respond faster to emails, while others ignore promotional SMS-es. Companies must constantly improve, take note of the successes and failures of channels and improve their targeting basis an iterative feedback mechanism. Retail companies must make the most of the business data and customer behavior data that they already have at hand.

Read an article on engaging your customer with a relevant experience published in the CGT magazine by Mohan Kumar, Chief Architect, Retail & CPG industries, Infosys here.


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