Taking HR software to the Board? Here’s how retailers ring up a sale

Jul 15, 2019

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Today’s retail sector is facing unprecedented times; increasing business rates, fluctuating currency, decreases in highstreet foot fall and the need for increasing online presence – to name a few! Tight margins, digitalisation and these increasingly uncertain market conditions have pushed metrics to the top of the agenda for every retail company’s Board of Directors.

The increased attention on consumer-focused improvements makes it tough to sell investments in HR software as something that can bring about a tangible return. But as author and keynote speaker Stephen Covey once said:

“Always treat your employees exactly as you want them to treat your best customers.”

It’s the theme you want to keep in mind while you’re making your business case for bringing change to the workforce through HR software. The pitch is one that can be especially hard to make in the retail industry but not impossible with the right information and metrics to back your argument.

Setting the Scene: The Challenges for HR in Retail

If you’re already thinking about pitching HR software to the Board, then you can already see the benefits of introducing tools like workforce management, digital rostering and automated reporting. But the people that you’re presenting to – namely the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Executive Officer – likely won’t understand the immediate benefits of doing so, even if they recognise there’s an issue.

Selling the advantages of HR software is just as important as selling the platform itself and to do that, the Board needs to understand why those advantages exist. Start crafting your presentation by focusing on immediate issues that pose a challenge to the company as a whole, rather than individual stores.

Begin with what’s often the most obvious problem at many retail companies: lack of transparency. Data is fuel for the modern business as it allows greater insight into actions that cost the business time (which ultimately equates to money). Legacy systems are often clunky and difficult – if not downright impossible – to integrate. Because of this, many organisations struggle to turn data into valuable insights.

Automated reporting is one way that HR software helps businesses overcome a lack of transparency. By linking previously siloed systems together – say, payroll with compensation and benefits – companies gain a complete view of the landscape and put the data they’re generating to good use.

Another major challenge that companies are grappling with is the general disruption currently taking place in the industry. Deloitte research found that this presents itself in a few different ways, including:

  • Rising wages coupled with an increasingly complex labour market.
  • A continuous movement to e-commerce as a dominant channel, with one-fifth of all retail sales in 2018 coming from online.
  • Uncertainty stemming from geopolitical affairs like Brexit, which are leading to a drop in consumer confidence.
  • A 36% year-over-year increase in location closures, largely due to failing restructures.

Many of these are external-facing issues where the company needs to present a solution in a public light and internal-facing issues might take a backseat behind them because of this. But one of the advantages to investing in HR software is the stabilisation it brings to administration, as well as improving the employee experience, allowing you to retain your top talent – and those impacts are undoubtedly felt across the business.

Consider the time that it takes senior personnel to get through mundane, every-day tasks, like rearranging weekly rosters, managing expenses or approving holiday time. By streamlining those tasks, companies give those hours back to staff. The newfound time can then be reinvested towards shop redesigns, organisational restructures and other activities that help businesses financially cope with factors that are outside of their control. Imagine what the impact would be if every store manager received time back to spend with customers and employees and not on unnecessary admin.

What does the CFO and Board want to see to approve spend on HR software?

Each business has its own unique objectives, but every public company has one goal: to satisfy its shareholders. What’s the key to keeping investors happy about a bottom-line? Show them where and how you’re saving money.

You know just as well as we do here at CoreHR that the implementation of HR software – and getting rid of legacy software – can have a direct financial impact on the business. The key is proving it.

The CFO and Board will want to see tangible results of the cost-savings and return on investment attributed to allocating funding to HR software. Look to pull from companies in similar situations that were already able to apply the cost-savings and calculate what the potential impact would be for your business.

Regardless, the CFO and the Board will at the very least want to see metrics and figures relating to the following:

  • Savings on productivity: Compare the time and cost it takes to manage legacy processes like payroll and rostering with the expected time it will take post-integration. Bring key productivity and profitability metrics to the table including Sales per Labour Hour (SPLH) and number of till transactions to payroll cost.
  • Cost of administrative risk: Showcase the reputational and financial business risk of managing crucial internal-facing elements like payroll and employee engagement with legacy solutions.
  • Time savings for staff: Evaluate how much time team members at every level of the organisation will save from moving to streamlined functionalities.
  • Cost of stagnancy: Identify the cost of integration and transformation with other HR software providers, as well as the cost of complacency and sticking with the current methods.

Lastly, don’t forget that an investment in HR software is an investment in the engine of the company: its employees – allowing you to provide an employee experience that matches that of your consumers. Highlighting the differences between the legacy solutions and the new software can help the Board visualise exactly how the sweeping new changes can impact the people who interact with customers every day. When employees are happy, the buzz translates to better consumer satisfaction rates.

Looking for additional guidance on how to pitch HR software to your Board or CFO? Take a look at our guide on building a business case for HR technology.

Peter Durrant

Enterprise Sales Manager