UK retailer’s Oracle systems transformation project

This UK fashion and homeware retailer (with over 250 stores, supported by a rapidly growing online channel) invited First Friday to be part of their Trading Transformation Programme. They replaced their existing WSSI with an Oracle Merchandise Financial Planning (MFP) system, they launched an enhanced grading structure, and introduced BI reporting. Our role was to design develop and deliver a training solution for this far-reaching initiative, working with both their internal project team and the third-party systems integrator.

UK retailer’s Oracle systems transformation project

Three text boxes with icons to summarise Systems Transformation Project case study at a glance: Box one is Industry; Retail; Fashion & Home with a shopping bag icon, Box two is Location, UK & International with a globe icon and Box three is Services; Specialist Retail Systems Training with a training icon

The Challenge

The Trading Transformation Project incorporated the introduction of an enhanced grading structure and the implementation of Oracle MFP (Merchandise Financial Planning) to replace the existing WSSI system.  The replacement of current reports with BI impacted all areas and moved the business from a focus on finding data to evidence-based decision-making. The change impacts were huge.

Our scope and role within the project evolved significantly. First Friday was initially invited to review the Training Needs Analysis (TNA) but we were subsequently asked to take on the development of training materials to be delivered.

Deadlines were tight and the team needed to integrate quickly with the project team, the external systems developers, and the third-party change and project management teams. An additional challenge came when, just a few weeks ahead of roll-out, the client invited us to undertake the delivery of the training to the 150+ delegates they had identified.

Our Solution

Two tick boxes with positive feedback from the Systems Transformation Project; 95.9% of delegates evaluated the course content positively and 98.5% of delegates gave positive feedback about their trainer

  • Role-based, classroom training
  • Concepts and hands-on systems training
  • Practice sessions
  • Scenario-based exercises, games and quizzes
  • Quick reference guides
  • Business as usual (BAU) support

Our consultants recommended a suite of role-based training sessions to be delivered immediately before the new systems went live.

Training was classroom-based, combining an introduction to new concepts with hands-on ‘how to’ training on the new system, slanted to the relevant role and product area:

  • The ‘how to’ training required a training environment in which each delegate could follow the trainer as they walked through the process, and then practice using scenario-based exercises set – and supported – by the trainer
  • Classroom sessions incorporated discussion as well as interactive games and quizzes to maintain engagement and keep energy levels high

The initial classroom training was supported by quick reference guides hosted on the internal learning management system. This offered Business as Usual support to the teams after go-live.

Our training consultants’ senior background in Buying & Merchandising gave them a deep understanding of Merchandise Financial Planning, WSSI and other areas. They had also worked on many MFP / WSSI systems projects. We were seen to add so much value to the project, not just for the training but other things as well. The retailer was so impressed that we were asked to extend our contract to include undertaking the delivery of the training we had developed, too.

The Results

Our consultants hit the ground running and impressed everyone with their ability to integrate into the team and deal with the challenges of the project, and our understanding and experience of this kind of project enabled us to add value not just to the design of training but to system and process design discussions too

An evolving brief meant we were challenged from the very beginning, however, we developed and delivered a comprehensive training programme (of over 135 hours) to 150 delegates which was extremely well received.

For complex projects like MFP / WSSI ones we always deploy senior, experienced consultants with a senior background in buying & merchandising, who are able to operate across the many requirements of the project, and not just operate as a trainer. This is so important for projects of this nature which demand a blend of skills and experience to create the right results for the business.

Customer feedback

Business Sponsor testimonial: "Just to say a big thank you for all your support over the last few months. The feedback we have had from the floor regarding the training sessions has been hugely positive. I speak for the team by saying that your contribution was invaluable and that you will be missed!”

Change Manager testimonial: “I wanted to say a massive thank you for all your support on the programme – your complete professionalism, work of the highest caliber and incredibly patient demeanor! We have nothing but exemplary feedback from all parties alike – it has been lovely to work with you.”


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