More and more retailers are turning to task execution and compliance software solutions, such as Logile’s EC5™, to improve communication and accountability throughout the organization. They recognize the advantages afforded by software, such as real-time, chainwide visibility that cannot be replicated by paper- or email-based systems.
When implementing a task execution and compliance solution, retailers often focus on their existing paper or email processes, and seek to replicate those in the software. Paper checklists and forms are built into the system and then manually assigned to the right audience. At the corporate office, operations and communications specialists manage the flow of tasks and messages to ensure that the stores know what they need to know.
That’s a crucial first step, but it prompts a follow-up question: can the software itself help manage the flow of content, so that corporate employees can focus more on store responses and less on content delivery? The answer is yes. Sophisticated task management software can help retailers automate task and message delivery in a number of different ways. Today we’ll look at one in particular: integration through web services.
What are web services?
To the non-technical crowd, “web services” may sound just like another buzzword. However, it’s actually an established, reliable method for facilitating communication between two systems over a predefined interface. Here’s the simple version:
- System A offers a list of available activities that it can perform, and the types of information it can accept for each one. This is the “service.”
- System B chooses one of System A’s capabilities, and sends it the required information.
- System A accepts the information from System B, and executes the activity.
How do they work in real life?
A real example will help solidify the idea. Task management software will play the role of “System A.” “System B” could be played by a wide variety of systems or applications already in use by a retailer, from online ordering to customer call handling to equipment management to product recalls.
For our example, “System B” will be the retailer’s online system for taking custom cake decorating orders. Here’s how it works:
- A customer goes to the cake ordering website and inputs the order details: the type of cake, the decorations, and the desired pickup store and time, for example.
- The cake ordering system accepts the order, selects “new task” in the web services list, and delivers the order details to the task management software.
- The task management software accepts the cake order and generates a new task based on the order details. The bakery manager at the customer’s preferred store will see the task and make the cake to the customer’s specifications and schedule.
In this process, the only role of corporate users is to address escalated cake orders that could not be fulfilled by the assigned bakery department. The corporate employees thus focus on dealing with exceptions, and store employees benefit as well since all of their tasks, including cake orders, come to one place.
So when considering the value of a task execution and compliance solution, think beyond “going paperless” or “turning off email.” Choose a task management solution that can easily integrate with other systems through web services, so that your corporate managers can focus more on handling exceptions and less on content management.