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By Jennifer Murphy, Chris Ramsden, Michelle Brown and Chris Stokes

Different teams from across Co-op have come together to save time, money and solve business problems using Power Platform – a suite of tools we all have access to. Power Platform can help all of us to automate processes, create applications and build detailed reports. The Citizen Developer Programme, which is open to all colleagues at the moment, provides you with the chance to develop skills in Power Platform.

By using tools within the suite we solved a business problem that saved Co-op money and provided the Licensing team with a much-improved process for managing premise licences.

Jennifer Murphy (Licensing Team Manager): I manage our Licensing Team and one of our biggest tasks was focused on managing premise licences for our stores. This means ensuring every store has a Designated Premise Supervisor / Manager, which allows our stores to trade alcohol. 

The issue we faced was that if the Designated Premise Supervisor / Manager left the business or went on long-term sick for example, we didn’t find out until after the fact. We were always reacting to ensure another colleague could fill this role. 

It was reactive, time-consuming activity and meant we needed to use a third party to handle a lot of the legalities on our behalf to ensure we were compliant. We needed to reduce our risks, ensuring stores trade legally by proactively changing the Designated Premise Supervisor / Manager instead of reactively changing them, all the while providing a better user journey for stores.

Chris Ramsden (Business Optimisation Analyst): We wanted to save on the costs of outsourcing and provide Jennifer’s team with the opportunity to use the skills they have – something we were having to pay a third party for, while they had to manage the admin associated with this process. 

We designed a totally new process that allowed us to be proactive. This connected with HR data to see well in advance if a Designated Premise Supervisor / Manager was leaving the business meaning we could reallocate this role to another colleague and update our licences using an automated process.

Michelle Brown (Channel Development Analyst): The licensing project is the most successful project I think I’ve been a part of. In terms of the solution, we were able to use the Power Platform tools to bring together existing leaver and mover data from MyHR and create automated workflows. 

It meant that as soon as a manager made the changes in MyHR the right licensing process was kicked off and all the manual effort and errors of using spreadsheets and out-of-date reports was removed. 

The whole thing took around 20 days. That might sound like a lot, but that work has led to considerable savings.

Jennifer Murphy: This has had a huge impact on the team. We’ve realised savings of two FTE and up to £170,000 in cost savings year on year. We no longer need to use the third party to support our team and the team are able to use the skills they have to handle licences internally. This has been a huge success and what’s more, the feedback we’ve had from stores about how we’ve improved this process shows we’re providing a great customer service. 

I was delighted to hear about the Citizen Developer Programme and I’ve signed up to become a Citizen Developer too. If any Co-op colleague can equip themselves with the skills to make these types of savings, we’ll be in a great place in years to come.

Chris Ramsden: This solution was the first of many. We’re already working with the Licensing team on phase two, which will allow us to build similar automation for managing stores premise licences across the estate. 

With this, we expect to realise a further two FTE in Return on Investment and additional £200,000 cost reductions by eliminating the costs of working with third party providers.

Chris Stokes (Data and Systems Manager)Power Platform has become an invaluable tool for my team to help us automate and streamline processes ran by our colleagues in CBS. When the Licensing team joined CBS, I quickly identified that Power Platform could provide the team with the efficiencies and cost savings budgeted for 2021, and that best of all it could be done for free using internal expertise. 

It’s helped us simplify our processes and reduce risk for Co-op. I’d encourage anyone to become a Citizen Developer and get involved – the potential is fantastic.

Citizen Developer Programme

The Citizen Developer programme is open to any Co-op colleague wanting to develop their skills in Power Platform. If you’d like to find out more, take a look at the Citizen Developer site

You can sign up to be a Citizen Developer too.