Abercrombie & Fitch Co. Shares the Top Three Keys to Successful Change Management
Monica Tatham is the Senior Director of Enterprise Business Solutions at Abercrombie & Fitch Co. She has been with the retailer for the past 16 years, leading and supporting software implementation developments for the company.
Adding anything to your organization’s tech stack can be a daunting task. Change management involves many moving parts, stakeholders, and deadlines – on top of the stress it can exert on teams already familiar with an existing process or solution.
For Abercrombie & Fitch Co., implementing a new retail planning solution was a broad-based change impacting over 200 end users. We were implementing both merchandise financial planning and assortment planning on a given day, retiring our old application and setting up the new application over a weekend.
One of our biggest wins was the amount of time we spent around change management and training to make sure we were prepared for the adoption of the tool. This preparation was crucial, especially in 2020 when training and meetings were moved to almost fully virtual as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of this, we were able to achieve a smooth transition, successful go-live, and user-level confidence that ensured adoption and sustained use.
Here are my top three recommendations for a successful solution adoption.
#1 – Prioritize your people.
First of all, I can’t stress enough that for a successful implementation, it’s about people.
It’s about developing a solid change management plan that is supported by top management. It’s about bringing people along on the journey and ensuring that they have all the tools to feel successful and continue to build upon the adoption of the tool.
- Get your leadership on board. We had support at all levels of leadership, from the initial stages of research to final stages of implementation.
- Keep listening. As we implemented, we had focus groups within each function of the business that could provide feedback and recommendations for further training.
- Focus on new hires. We have new hire training we leverage to make sure we can bring employees up to speed quickly and thoroughly. It involved a robust training system and process to help people learn and operate within their new roles.
Looking for more ways to prioritize your people?
#2 – Stay focused after go-live.
We spent a significant amount of time after launch to ensure our associates were engaged.
- Schedule check-ins and keep the door open. We had planned office hours where people could come and ask questions. During office hours, associates could listen to other folks’ questions and watch scenarios being performed live to reinforce their training.
- Find multiple avenues for ongoing communication. Recorded trainings were a huge benefit for us as an organization. We also used newsletters to keep our teams informed, and we continue to leverage improvement opportunities to benefit the organization.
#3. Select a great partner for your tool.
The right technology partner makes all the difference.
- Keep communication open with your technology partner. Think about what your key requirements are. Think about your journey and what works best for you as an organization. The clearer you are, the more your partner can help you successfully implement an application that’s going to work well for you, your team and your business.
- Keep technology up to date. We made a commitment to our organization that we would stay on cadence and upgrade throughout the year. The right technology partner will equip you with the resources, time, and attention you need to stay in lockstep with the tool, drive continuous improvement, and adapt emerging technologies and best practices.
- Look for flexibility. A flexible application will allow you to adjust your processes to fit your organization’s needs and evolve as your business grows and the market changes. We implemented merchandise financial planning and assortment planning and found that we could input and extract data easily and integrate the solution’s output with other key planning and execution functions.
Solution adoption can be challenging but enormously rewarding.
By keeping your people front and center and dedicating time to develop a solid plan, you’ll find your team is more enthusiastic, your business is more efficient, and the payoff is greater.
Want to learn more insights from this retail giant?