Disrupt or be disrupted: Retail sector lacks confidence in ability to successfully navigate digital transformation

Radical disruption is the new business-as-usual. One day you are hailing a taxi; the next day Uber or Lyft pulls up to your front door. And while enterprises value and aspire to the innovator's mindset, they're not confident in their business' ability to pivot in the face of disruption.

A new study, "Business Agility: Is it Easy to Pivot?", reveals the disconnect between aspiration and reality and identifies potential pitfalls to navigating a shifting business landscape. For the survey, Changepoint explored the agility of global businesses and asked respondents to evaluate the challenges and barriers PMOs face in building nimbler organizations, and this release reveals the responses from those working within retail.

Organisational agility is critical for any enterprise, yet retail organisations around the globe and across industries do not have systems in place to adapt. While C-level executives are concerned with disruptive new entrants, only 11 percent of retailer survey respondents are confident they can pivot their business if needed. This ongoing struggle is made more challenging by a disconnect between project managers and executives. More than half of respondents working in retail (32 percent) acknowledge being unsure of their corporate objectives and values. Similarly, more than half of respondents (54%) cited poor communication between and within departments as the most difficult aspect of managing teams.

"The hard truth is, at any moment, your business is most likely disrupting or being disrupted," said Alan Shefveland, Director, Product Management, Strategy and Innovation at Changepoint. "The best way to thrive in the face of rapid change is rewriting your playbook to refocus on accelerating internal operations."

Nimble organizations actively engage executive sponsors, align projects to strategy, and establish an effective PMO. Communication, collaboration, and engagement are key to enabling change and managing risk effectively and continue to be big hurdles for PMOs. Survey respondents working in retail said the most pervasive and prevalent barriers to agility include a lack of real-time transparency into projects (29 percent) and resources (43 percent), and overreliance on manual reporting such as spreadsheets (68 percent).

Other key findings include:

  • Multiple, disconnected systems stand in the way of business agility
    Project managers and executives desire one connected system for project management, portfolio management, and resource management. The majority of organizations still rely on a patchwork of outdated legacy systems, including multi-tenant SaaS, hosted software, on premise software, proprietary systems, and manual spreadsheets to manage project tasks and information. The three most important project portfolio management (PPM) capabilities ranked by respondents working within retail were project management (43 percent), real-time analytics and reporting (21 percent) and resource management (14 percent). Without managing projects and resources to ensure nimble execution, the PMO and larger organization are at risk.
  • Lack of effective communication tools make projects difficult to manage
    Despite the surge in business communication tools, nearly one-third (29 percent) of respondents working in retail say they lack tools for managing better communication across teams and projects. In fact, nearly half (54 percent) of retail professionals cite communication, both intra and inter-department, as the most difficult aspect of managing a project.
  • Managing workloads and schedules is a continued hurdle to agility
    Project managers within retail spend the majority of their work day managing team workloads and schedules, with 43 percent citing this task as the most difficult aspect to project execution. Sixty percent of retail project managers and executives spend more than three hours a day managing people; 68 percent spend more than three hours a day establishing and managing processes.

"To prepare for organizational change, project and business leaders must be on the same path forward. This demands confident decision making and prioritising company initiatives," said Shefveland. "A connected PPM system provides real-time insight and enables cross-functional communication, both important first steps to weathering organizational change."

Research was conducted by Changepoint, a leading provider of project portfolio management, Enterprise Architecture, and Professional Services Management applications. Changepoint surveyed 1,257 project managers and executives from medium to enterprise-sized organizations in a variety of industries, including IT services, government, manufacturing, and healthcare. More than half of respondents reside in North America, a quarter live in EMEA, and the remainder are from South America and APAC.

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