Evaluate and review strategy

BY Australian Retailers Association
19 November 2018

Monitoring, reviewing and evaluation activities are undertaken to track progress against desired outcomes and provide feedback on the process itself, to inform ongoing and future strategic activities.

Surprisingly not all retailers are highly skilled in these areas, partially because they are busy on competing priorities and spending all their available time dealing with pressing day-to-day issues. Taking the time to evaluate and review strategy can itself be a future time saving activity.

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Monitor action plan implementation

Monitoring is an activity that occurs at established milestones throughout the implementation phase. It can be invaluable in helping businesses track progress and identify variations from the expected outcomes in time, to make necessary adjustments and realign with desired outcomes.

Depending upon the scope, speed and importance of the action plan being implemented, monitoring may be a highly frequent or an infrequent activity. It is best undertaken with clear responsibilities and accountabilities established so confusion does not stall the monitoring process.

Key information to look for includes:

  • Resource issues
  • Time delays
  • Staff resistance
  • Communication issues
  • Bench marking against financial goals

When unexpected issues or deviations arise, it is necessary for them to be flagged and shared with stakeholders empowered to take action. It may be that the staff responsible for monitoring the implementation phase are not the same as those empowered to take corrective action.

Evaluate against objectives

Post-implementation, the opportunity exists to review and evaluate whether objectives were achieved. This requires a comparison of actual outcomes against desired outcomes and the identification of areas where implementation may not have occurred as planned or outcomes may not have been achieved as expected. Such an investigation provides valuable information on organisational capacity and offers the opportunity to make adjustments in the name of continuous improvement.

It also results in a greater awareness of organisational constraints and highlights areas in which future investment may be required to bolster competitiveness. The process of evaluating performance against objectives is relatively straightforward assuming the accuracy of data on outcomes gathered and the availability is of clear and concise expectations. Information quality is essential to a meaningful comparative evaluation. The aim of evaluation against objectives is to highlight those areas where the actual varies from the expected.Variances can be perceived as positive or negative depending upon their impact.

Investigating variances can help identify several valuable measures including:

  • Areas where better planning and preparation would have been beneficial
  • Areas of inadequate resourcing
  • Areas of poor communication
  • Areas of unexpected resistance
  • Areas of marked success

Observations made through the evaluation phase can then be used to review and report on results to key stakeholders.

Review and report on results

The most valuable insights resulting from the post-implementation review are those that highlight the unexpected. It is this information that contributes to business intelligence and informs future business directives and strategic planning. Risk is a reality of any retail venture. The retail landscape is in transition, undergoing the most significant transformation since the first department stores in the early 20th century.

Businesses develop strategies based upon what they know and informed judgements on what is likely, given the prevailing market conditions. Some impacts cannot be predicted. In some cases it is the butterfly effect, a term coined to illustrate the sensitive interdependence of things, that retailers must deal with. Any data that helps a retailer better understand themselves, their activities, the market in which they trade, their competitors, and most importantly their customers is of value. Gathering data on and reviewing the outcomes of strategic planning needs to be a key outcome of the strategic planning process itself.

About ARA Retail Institute

ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association representing Australia’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As the retail industry’s peak representative body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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