One of the best ways to reduce risks for your retail technology deployments is to make sure you know all the various aspects of each of the stores in your portfolio. There are few things worse than sending a pallet of equipment to the store to be installed only to find out there is no dock available or there is no available space to store the equipment until the technician arrives. Or finding out that the workstations that need to be upgraded don’t have the correct version of the operating system or the correct configuration.
By effectively using site surveys and installation reviews, you’ll know all this information in advance, which can save you from a reschedule, needless interruptions to the store, additional costs, and frustration by all involved.
The purpose of a site survey is to confirm the physical aspects for the planned deployment, collect site information for the purposes of future use, and to identify any special requirements or issues that need to be resolved prior to the deployment. This can include:
- physical aspects of the store;
- an inventory of equipment in the store;
- checking the operating system and configuration levels of currently installed devices;
- specific location of devices; and
- the collection of device serial numbers.
It may not be necessary to perform a site survey on every single store, so it’s important to specifically outline the criteria that must be met for a site survey to be conducted. You’ll also need to determine whether the site survey will be conducted over the phone with store personnel or whether it will require a visit by a deployment technician to walk through the store and communicate with the store personnel. Or it may be a combination of both. For example, a preliminary phone survey may be conducted, and based on the results, determines if an in-store survey needs to be conducted.
It’s best to have a written script to be followed during the site survey, but at a minimum, you should provide a checklist to be followed. The checklist should include every aspect of the store that needs to be checked, confirmed, and documented along with pictures that are required to be taken. Additionally, you need to determine whether the results will be recorded manually (written) then communicated later or electronically (tablet) that allows for immediate access to the results.
For planning purposes, you need to determine the length of time that is expected for the survey to be completed. You also need to determine if each survey must be scheduled in advance with the store or if it can be completed as convenient for the deployment technician by a certain date. Be sure to let the deployment technician know what tool(s) they will need to conduct the survey (e.g. script / checklist, digital camera, tablet, etc.).
The results of the site survey feed directly to the installation review, which is usually conducted by a set panel of team members that has decision-making powers. Depending on the complexity of the deployment, you may not have to conduct an installation review for every store. Be specific about the criteria to be applied to the results to determine whether an installation review is required.
Have a set time each week to complete installation reviews and make sure they are completed prior to the schedule lockdown period. If for some reason the store needs to be rescheduled due to issues discovered or that cannot be resolved in time for the scheduled deployment, you’ll want to reschedule before it enters the lockdown period so there’s no negative impact on the overall deployment schedule.
For stores that require an installation review, make sure you have a process to review with the team. Each issue identified should be thoroughly documented along with the resolution and a list of tasks that must be completed prior to the scheduled deployment. There should be a process in place to collect the issues, communicate to all team members, and specifically assign prerequisite tasks. Additionally, a process must be established to ensure that all tasks are completed prior to the deployment.
The most important aspect of the installation review is to make every effort to ensure the deployment doesn’t have to be rescheduled and that it can be completed successfully the first time. Knowledge of the store environment prior to the deployment is one of the keys to successful retail technology deployments.