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How the Best Retailers Are Taking Control of Project Management

The successful delivery of large-scale retail projects relies on a lot of things going right. With so many channels of responsibility and competing ideas, problems can easily arise if there isn’t a clear and shared process.

Below we explore how to streamline your business processes to ensure every project gets delivered on time, under budget, and to the highest possible standard.



The problem of cross-functional projects


Normal day-to-day functions go relatively smoothly because each business unit is aware of its role; the brand team market products, the warehouse division store and ship items, and the finance department pay the bills and balance the books. But when projects require the input of multiple business units, things can go awry.

It’s the age old problem of too many cooks spoiling the broth. However, when the broth is a multi-million dollar digital transformation, mishaps are costly.

Consider an example. A major retailer takes its successful brick and mortar business online. It’s a huge opportunity for the growth of the business, and also an opportunity for multiple people to put their own stamp on the project. Each business unit has its own vision, but there is only one commerce application. This means that the project inevitably gets pulled in many directions, resulting in an over-time and over-budget delivery that not everyone is happy with.

This situation is all too common for mid-large level retailers. But it needn’t be. Here’s how to streamline your cross-functional projects.



Defining responsibility with the RACI formula


Many project management issues can be avoided by following a simple four-part structure known as the RACI formula. This is how it works.


  • Responsible – This person drives the project from start to finish. It is their responsibility complete the task to the best of their ability.



  • Accountable – Sitting above the Responsible person in a management role, the Accountable person ultimately approves tasks and decisions. The onus rests upon them for ensuring the project is completed on time, under budget and to the highest possible standard.


  • Consulted – The Responsible person may request input from this person to complete their task, but the Consulted person is not accountable for decisions made outside the scope of their advice – that role belongs to the Accountable person.


  • Informed – Often a senior management figure, the Informed person needs to be kept up to date with the project’s progress, even if they don’t have an active role in contributing to the management of day-to-day tasks.



RACI in practice


To ensure each business unit and team member understands their responsibilities and what is required of them, roles need to be clearly defined prior to the commencement of any project.

However, especially with major cross-functional projects, team members often have different skill sets, and so will be more suited to some tasks and decisions than others. This means that roles within a project deployment may vary, and this may be independent of organisational hierarchy.


For example, even a Managing Director may benefit from consulting with an intern if they are better informed in a particular subject area.



The RACI matrix


One of the most effective ways to manage multiple roles and responsibilities is to create a RACI matrix. This involves defining each person’s role in every task and decision, and this should be updated throughout a project’s lifecycle.

Below is an example of how this may look.


R=Responsible; A=Accountable; C=Consulted; I=Informed



Further considerations


There are four important points to consider when creating a RACI matrix. They are as follows.

  • Only one Accountable person per task – One person should have ownership of the project to see it through to fruition. Otherwise, the waters of responsibility get muddied and problems emerge.


  • Aim to convert Consulted people into Informed – Not everyone needs to give active input. Sometimes merely informing them will do, to speed up the process. However, this must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.


  • Leave some cells white – Efficiency is key. Only involve others when it will yield value.


  • Revise and adapt – Projects inevitably change. Be prepared to change your process to suit the environment and ensure the best people are working on the tasks they are most suited to.

Successful project management is achieved when talent is utilised effectively, allowing teams and individuals to flourish.

Find out how to achieve these results for your business, contact us

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Nick Hull
Strategic Solution Consultant

Apr 26, 2017