We were engaged to work with a leading high street fast fashion retailer who had embarked upon a Merchandise Financial Planning transformation. As part of this needed to create a new Business Intelligence reporting capability to support a more sophisticated and effective set of planning and forecasting processes.
We were engaged to work with a leading high street fast fashion retailer. This client had embarked upon a Merchandise Financial Planning (MFP) transformation to ensure that the plans of its individual merchandising teams were fully aligned with its top-line business objectives, and that the teams could easily track actual sales, margin and stock levels against forecast each week. The transformation was to introduce much greater discipline and rigor into the planning cycle for each buying period, and enable integrated cross-channel planning and forecasting for the first time.
The MFP transformation was built on two major foundations: 1)the implementation of the Oracle MFP application using the RPAS software platform, and 2) the creation of a new Business Intelligence reporting capability. Together, these would support and enable a more sophisticated and effective set of planning and forecasting processes, to ensure that correct and timely decisions were made.
This programme had been very long-running and had faced many challenges. CMG was brought in halfway through to turn it around, and once engaged our team had to hit the ground running.
This was a major programme, and had already lasted several years when we were appointed as Programme Managers. The implementation work was being carried out by the client, and we were engaged to programme manage the work and to perform key functions within several of the workstreams. Our brief was to ensure that the work was planned and executed effectively, ensuring that the phased go-live dates were achieved and that the whole transformation was rolled out successfully.
As this was a major business transformation initiative, we were responsible for managing a range of stakeholders. We worked closely with internal client departments across Buying & Merchandising, E-Commerce and Wholesale. We also worked closely with the Oracle development team to ensure the clients’ requirements were being successfully met.
The Oracle RPAS / MFP application generates a significant volume of data for its users. However, this platform does not come with a standard reporting suite, and there is no simple way to summarize this large volume of information to enable the business teams rapidly to draw useful conclusions and actionable insights. The business teams required a new reporting capability to be created to enable them to do this.
The programme team worked to develop a new data mart to combine historic ‘actuals’ data with future plan and forecast data, and to enable the creation of mini reporting applications to provide views on different aspects of that data. These applications allowed business users to slice and dice the data on a given topic as needed to inform a given decision at any point in the planning and forecasting processes. As such, the BI reporting capability developed was a key enabler for the new planning and forecasting processes, playing a central role in business decision-making throughout, and it was a hugely valuable addition to the Oracle MFP application itself.
In its programme management role, CMG oversaw the delivery of these BI reporting applications to the business, and championed the adoption of an ‘agile’ delivery methodology for the BI workstream, establishing in the process a truly collaborative way of working with the business. This was the first successful example of fully agile delivery in this client’s business, and became a trail-blazer for the methodology that is now being adopted for all the client’s new IT initiatives.
The Business Intelligence component of this programme was a large and technically complex undertaking. The Oracle programme team advised us that this piece of work was truly ground-breaking, and the first time that reporting had been developed in this way for their RPAS platform.
Our client is now able to see complex, multi-channel data from the MFP application, summarized and combined with other sources of historic data, in a single view that is easy and quick to consume. This enables them to be much more sophisticated and ‘leading-edge’ in planning their trading and then tracking and responding to what its customers were actually buying. The client feels that this unique piece of work is a real differentiator in the marketplace for them, and as such this is another example of where the CMG team has led the delivery of lasting value for its client.