Relaunched 2,700 Private Label Products for Leading Retailer

 

PROJECT BACKGROUND

One of the world’s largest retailers wanted to achieve best-in-class quality for each item in their diverse portfolio of private label food and consumables products in an effort to increase customer satisfaction and market share. To accomplish this goal, the retailer needed to assess the existing properties and packaging of each of the 2,700 individual products in the portfolio and compare the properties against designated national brands. The retailer needed to identify improvement opportunities for each product and either revise the existing product specifications accordingly or create new specifications (if none previously existed) to achieve desired properties. The retailer could then present specifications to third-party product manufacturers for production changes and ultimate retail sale.

The retailer was concurrently developing a new and sophisticated product information database to be used by the retailer and third-party suppliers to manage information about each product. The two initiatives were interdependent and shared several team resources and stakeholders.

THE CHALLENGE

Successful completion of the product improvement initiative required a broad, multi-functional team consisting of technical and administrative resources. The team needed the expertise to assess highly diverse categories of food and consumables products, develop corresponding technical and packaging specifications, process the new and revised specifications through product implementation with third-party suppliers, and coordinate specification development activities with the development of the database system. Additionally, the retailer had imposed aggressive deadlines and budgetary constraints to re-launch the modified products in retail stores. The project required a well coordinated and highly productive effort within the team and other stakeholders, including retailer executives, product specification database developers, and third-party product manufacturers.

The retailer realized it lacked the requisite resources to successfully complete the scope of work within the targeted product re-launch timelines. They therefore enlisted the industry’s leading food testing and consulting firm to develop the food and consumables specifications. This firm realized they lacked the capability to efficiently manage the project’s complex scope within the aggressive schedule and budget constraints. They therefore engaged Integrated Project Management Company, Inc. (IPM) to deliver the project management services necessary to plan and manage the initiative in order to achieve the retailer’s goals.

IPM’S APPROACH

IPM initiated its role by working with a food testing and consulting firm to build a large team of technical and administrative subject matter experts capturing the unique skills demanded by the initiative. IPM also led the effort to confirm the project scope through collaboration with all project stakeholders across multiple companies. Lastly, IPM led the project team to develop a comprehensive project plan that reflected the retailer’s schedule and budget constraints and was used to manage the team’s daily project execution and communicate status and issues to stakeholders.

The project team was frequently confronted with sudden changes imposed by the retailer that impacted project priorities, scope, and deadlines, causing the team to expend additional time and resources to change direction and refocus efforts. For example, within a month of completing the project plan and initiating team execution activities, the retailer made a fundamental change to the overarching project strategy. This modification had a dramatic impact to the project scope, yet the project schedule could not be altered. Additionally, seven months later the retailer shortened the product re-launch schedule, thereby shortening the team’s schedule by three months. IPM responded to these and other changes by leading collaborative assessments of the impacts to the project plan, defining response strategies, implementing those responses, and communicating impacts to appropriate stakeholders.

IPM also managed recurring challenges with the product specifications database system. System development issues frequently impeded system availability, thereby impacting the ability for retailer and third party product manufacturers to populate specifications into the system. IPM responded to these issues by working closely with the system developer and other stakeholders to define both temporary workarounds and permanent solutions that enabled continued progress.

PROJECT RESULTS

Under IPM’s leadership, all commitments to the retailer were satisfied through the coordinated efforts of the project team and stakeholders. In fact, the re-launch of modified private label products was conducted ahead of the initial schedule, with the new products reaching store shelves approximately three months sooner than initially planned. The team compiled data for a total of 2,700 private label products, including 2,330 food and 370 consumable product specifications. Unique to each product, product specifications included ingredient and component supplier names and sources, nutritional value, chemical properties, and packaging information. This information in its entirety was populated into the new product information database, accessible by the retailer and third-party manufacturers.

By utilizing the new database system, the retailer can now efficiently manage their portfolio of private label products to ensure product quality, decrease their reaction time to potentially harmful product issues, and strengthen their brand image with the tools for fresh, innovative, and in-demand products.