Best Buy looks to update workforce management

National retailer Best Buy Canada Ltd. announced earlier this week that it has chosen a workforce management solution from Kronos Inc. to replace its existing legacy systems.

The retailer – which is comprised of both Best Buy and Future Shop locations – plans to roll out Kronos Workforce Central for Retail nationwide in 2005. The software suite hits on the three areas that Best Buy was looking to update including scheduling, time and labour, according to Tom Kemp, project manager at Best Buy in Burnaby, B.C.

Best Buy’s existing systems on the time and attendance side were becoming more and more difficult to support because of the outdated technology, Kemp explained. On the labour and scheduling side, the systems were seen as just not meeting business requirements.

The retailer’s objective is to implement the new system in all of its 130 Best Buy and Future Shop locations across the country as well as all of its distribution centres, regional offices and headquarters.

“It is very important for us to first and foremost meet payroll and make sure associates are getting paid and secondly to make sure we have the right people in the right place at the right time,” Kemp noted.

To use the scheduling portion of the product Best Buy would begin by planning its labour force — what types of employees it needs, what expertise they should have and in which department they should work — and enter this information into the application.

This will allow Best Buy to align the associate with his/her most fitting department, explained Debbie Baxter, national service director for Kronos in Toronto.

“If you walked into the store you would see someone in the electronics area and that person has a certain skill and expertise that needed to be scheduled on that particular role. Our scheduling product allows them to implement that plan and deal with any last minute adjustments,” Baxter explained.

“If the person who was on electronics called in sick that day, then they need to find someone to replace him that has a comparable or potentially greater skill set…our software allows them to do that kind of last minute adjustment very easily.”

The software also allows the retailer to track the employees that are working on any particular day. Their hours would be captured in the system and compared to the schedule, Baxter explained.

Currently, Kronos and Best Buy are in the design and development stages of the project and have not yet begun testing. The plan, according to Kemp, is to have both companies work closely together but have Best Buy focus on the integration and Kronos on the configuration.

Kronos will configure its product based on the needs of the customer, but it doesn’t tend to do very much customization, Baxter noted. “Our approach to the market is to really have a very flexible product that can be configured to the customer’s specific requirements.”

The main challenge for the project to date has been in dealing with a dual-brand strategy for both Best Buy and Future Shop and having to configure the software to support two different business models, Kemp explained.

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