Inspiring and implementing Change Management in an FMCG/Foods business, was one of the first assignments I undertook with Anup N. Amatya & Associates, professional Financial Consultants and Business & Management Consultants.
The first thing I decided to change was to streamline the daily operations from a paper-based slow-moving system to a more efficient computerised one. It was not so much of a Transformational Change since I did not go about radically changing the prevailing culture, already focused towards Value Proposition.
Planning the Change Management
I still had to plan the change management process carefully and prepare to Unfreeze the existing methods since most of our staff, some of whom were with the business for quite a long time and had a set way of doing things which added little value. In the computerisation process of our sales and inventory management systems, I had to carefully study the current working practices and design the work flow-Flow Chart to make the process more efficient. It also formed the starting point for drawing up a bespoke billing and inventory management software.
While planning the change management, I decided to design the software from scratch since suitable off-the-shelf software were not available as per our requirement. For example, our stores transfer items to one another.
If a particular item in one store runs out and the order is yet to be-placed centrally, or it has yet to be received. For this, I had to design a suitable Transfer Pricing mechanism without affecting the profit margins of concerned stores which would otherwise stem resistance from staff since that would also affect their targets and hence bonuses.
The Change Management Process
I supervised the Change management process, personally. It included the implementation of the software and training of staff. Most of our old and loyal staff members were computer illiterate. I had to convince them that we had to switch to a computerised system urgently since we need to be able to service customers much faster. It would also allow us to manage our inventory in real-time, and the stock-outs would minimise to a great extent. The staff needed to buy into the idea that the old method could seriously undermine our efficiency and reputation.
Additionally, our larger competitors were already using computerised systems. For our wholesale business, I followed a similar approach. With a fewer number of customers with much larger unit purchase sizes and with fewer items-SKUs to manage compared to our retail stores, I opted for a widely used off-the-shelf software popular in our country as well as India. It was a tried and tested software for the purpose, and we only had to make few adjustments as per our requirements.
It also meant a lesser time for training the existing staff. I still had to influence and persuade staff to give up old methods of manual billing and ledger keeping, albeit in Excel, with an additional benefit of better control and transparency in inventory management.
During the change management process, I had to show them that the new computerised system would benefit them ultimately. It means less time spent on unproductive manual billing and accounts keeping and more time to attend to customer orders and on-boarding, resulting in increased sales and bonuses for themselves.
Institutionalising the Change
To Refreeze and institutionalise the change and to make sure that people do not move back into the old manual system, we transferred all manual ledgers into the computerised records. Thus, our personnel had no option but to embrace the new system. It is necessary since the business needs to adapt to the changing business environment continually.
Anup N. Amatya & Associates – professional Financial, Business & Management Consultants!
For more details, Contact Us, or follow the links below.
Author: Anup Narsingh Amatya