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Q&A: Paul Ridings, Global Director of Growth for People at OneAdvanced

We are one of the UK’s leading software companies, our mission is to power the world of work. We help the likes of Harvey Nichols, Specsavers,… View Article


Q&A: Paul Ridings, Global Director of Growth for People at OneAdvanced

We are one of the UK’s leading software companies, our mission is to power the world of work. We help the likes of Harvey Nichols, Specsavers, and WH Smith to modernise and optimise their processes, to support their workforce, grow, and to be more efficient.

Can you tell us a bit about your background? 

I’m the Global Director of Growth for People at OneAdvanced, serving as a leader in the realm of digital transformation (with a specific focus on retailers). My aim is to empower frontline workers through the power of technology. My experience with strategic business development and technological transformation programmes ultimately allows me to serve as a key strategic ally for HR leaders. Having previously been a customer of HR technology, and then going on to hold senior positions with HR technology providers, I’ve been able to become a trusted tech advisor in the retail space.   

What does your company do? / What is your USP?

We are one of the UK’s leading software companies, our mission is to power the world of work. We help the likes of Harvey Nichols, Specsavers, and WH Smith to modernise and optimise their processes, to support their workforce, grow, and to be more efficient.

Our unique approach enables us to provide a comprehensive portfolio of products for our retail customers that can solve the challenges of their entire business, end to end. This means that our customers don’t need to have multiple products from multiple vendors, which often creates a huge disconnect in their organisations and can be expensive to coordinate. Instead, we can help them build their own platform, constructed from a selection of our solutions that fit the specific needs of their business. For example, our support can range from workforce management, HR, Financials and Payroll, through to Governance, Risk & Compliance or Spend Management capabilities.

What’s special about the platform and your approach?

At the core of our solutions lies a customer-centric ethos, where we meet the specific needs and challenges faced by businesses. Our modular approach allows them to customise their software suite based on their individual requirements, ensuring they only invest in what they truly need for efficient operations. By focusing on simplifying business management and enhancing productivity, our technology empowers companies to streamline their processes and drive growth across various departments. On top of this, our commitment to continuous innovation and industry expertise sets us apart in providing comprehensive functionality that caters to the nuances of a particular sector such as Retail. With scalability, flexibility, and seamless integration at the forefront of our offerings, we enable organisations to adapt in a rapidly changing landscape.

What advantage does it add?

What is special is the impact this has on our customers, who are at the forefront of everything we do. Our software has seen customers automate a month’s worth of work in 90 seconds, which is monumental when you look at the organisations we work with. They can see tangible change on a daily basis, whether it is improving employee wellbeing, saving money, or providing positive outcomes in essential public sector services. Our technology gives them visibility of the bigger picture, with self-service functionality, automation of complex tasks, and actionable/meaningful data at their fingertips, allowing them to put the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

What does a product/service implementation actually look like and how do you measure success?

Our success is based on the satisfaction of our customers. We can measure this through user adoption of our products, internal adoption, or regular conversations that our account managers and support teams will be having with their customers. Our implementation process will vary based on the large variety of products that we offer, but a successful onboarding should always feature clear communication, regular touchpoints, easy-to-access support, and a good understanding of the customer’s needs.

How are retailers using your systems to gain competitive advantage and what does best practice look like? Can you share a case study with us?

In terms of our systems having a tangible impact in the real world, a prime example is soft drinks company AG Barr, who are the makers of IRN-BRU. During the pandemic, they had to find a more effective way to manage the performance of their 900 or so employees, especially given the shift to remote/hybrid working patterns. They started using our Performance & Talent solution, which not only enabled managers to give feedback in a more meaningful way, but also embedded performance management within their daily culture (rather than simply having an appraisal once a year). The software has enabled them to deliver some great numbers, particularly in the realm of employee performance and engagement, with staff now far more engaged within their roles than they used to be. This is a great case in point of an innovative organisation using technology to both solve a problem but also evolve and move forward with the way they manage their workforce.   

What challenges are UK retailers facing in 2024?

Retailers are confronted with a multitude of challenges in 2024, with one significant issue being the disconnect between frontline employees and back-office management, leading to communication gaps, operational inefficiencies, and a lack of alignment on strategic objectives. These frontline workers often face pressures related to customer service demands, inventory management, and the need to adapt to evolving technologies, all while seeking recognition and support from their managers. Bridging this disconnect, enhancing learning opportunities, fostering open lines of communication, and implementing technology solutions that streamline operations and empower frontline staff are crucial steps for retailers to navigate these hurdles.

What opportunities might arise from these challenges for retailers?

Off the back of these challenges there is a significant opportunity for retailers to boost their operations and support the frontline workforce by empowering back-office managers to streamline communication channels, provide robust training programmes tailored to frontline needs, implement user-friendly technology solutions to simplify tasks, and establish feedback mechanisms to listen to and act on frontline concerns effectively. By prioritising staff wellbeing, creating a culture of inclusion and recognition, and investing in tools that increase productivity, back-office managers can create a truly supportive environment that enables the frontline workforce to thrive.

What steps are your company taking to ensure retailers are able to harness these opportunities?

OneAdvanced is strategically positioning itself as a pivotal partner for retailers, ensuring they are well-equipped to harness market opportunities through a range of innovative solutions and services.

From supporting frontline workers directly through our people management solutions such as Performance and Talent, Payroll, and Time & Attendance, to our back-office capabilities so that we can bridge the gap of disconnection for these essential workers. These tools give the workforce greater overall visibility of their schedules, more control over their pay and encourage stronger communication, while it allows upper-level management to be more efficient and compliant, ensuring they have the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

Aside from workforce management, OneAdvanced also offers Retailers many market-focused, back-office solutions to streamline their internal processes, increase efficiency and productivity so they can continue to grow.  Whether we help retailers looking to enhance their finance and procurement processes, or improve their governance and risk, OneAdvanced have a portfolio of cloud-powered products that can suit the unique needs of those in the retail sector.

 Any final thoughts?

My last thought is to just say that retailers should ensure they are keeping up with the latest trends within their industry, such as a rapidly evolving digital landscape, the continued rise of e-commerce, shifting consumer behaviours, omnichannel experiences, supply chain disruptions, sustainability concerns, and the pressing need to enhance cybersecurity. They should create personalised customer experiences, invest in sustainable practices to meet eco targets, and harness data analytics to optimise operational performance (while staying compliant with the latest regulations). This proactive approach will put them in good stead for the year ahead.  For further reading I’d highly recommend everyone to read our 2024 Retail Report, which specifically dives into the trends retailers should have on their radar today.

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