...
Center Inc. is one of the largest home appliances and electronics retail chains in Russia, present in more than 130 cities in 23 regions of the country. Mikhail Semakin, IT Director of the service provider for Center Inc., speaks about the effect of the process-based approach in business scaling and shares the secrets of independent implementation of a BPM system.
Center Inc.
(Home Appliances and Electronics)
25 years in business
1000 users
24 business processes
94 622 transactions
Have been using ELMA since 2007

Take a tour

– Please, tell us how Centre Inc. got started.
– It all started in 1990 when we opened our first store. In 1996, we set a course for expansion of our chain in the regions or Russia. Today, there are more than 220 stores and almost 7000 employees working under the brand of Center Inc.

– You have come a long way. What was the most difficult in the development of the retail chain?
– One of the most challenging tasks was to ensure operational coordination between the head office and the stores, as well as between different subdivisions. The policies of some coordination processes became very complex, and it was impossible to fulfill them relying on instructions only, especially in such a fast-growing company as ours.
For example, consider hiring a new employee. Since the HR Department and the stores are often located in different cities, the hiring and termination procedures are handled by the store directors. This leads to rather complex document logistics, which becomes ineffective when people forget to do this or that. Today, these policies are managed in ELMA. A store director receives clear tasks on what has to be done and by what time. Having completed the task, the director confirms it in ELMA or makes a request for more information. Also, the system monitors the task completion time.

– When did you decide to start using process management?
– In 2007, Center Inc. was in its growth phase; new stores opened one after another, we hired more and more administrative personnel. Along the way, we had to set up new coordination processes and deal with various management problems. Our business was going to a whole new level. The existing internal processes became so complex that it was no use trying to explain them to the newly hired employees.

We instantly liked ELMA for its user-friendly interface and reasonable prices. Within the scope of business scaling, we decided to implement the system in all our subdivisions at the same time and purchased an unlimited license right away.

– What were the criteria used to select the system?
– First of all, we needed to deal with the issues within our subdivisions: organize an electronic workflow with a clear history of communication and schedule compliance monitoring. We considered various options, but they seemed expensive regarding the capabilities and features that they offered, and had a rather complicated interface, which was not appealing to us. We wanted the system to be convenient and friendly for every user.
We instantly liked ELMA for its user-friendly interface and reasonable prices. Within the scope of business scaling, we decided to implement the system in all our subdivisions at the same time and purchased an unlimited license

– How does ELMA help you deal with the current tasks and issues?
– Today, we use ELMA to manage our internal documents, requests, and complex processes, such as opening and closing a store, which require well-coordinated teamwork. Now, all the departments and subdivisions of our retail chain collaborate in ELMA.

– How can you describe your experience with ELMA?
– We implemented ELMA on our own relying on the idea that a good process must not be complicated. ELMA Designer is a rather simple application, and it did not take us long to get used to it.
Moreover, the system is very flexible, it allowed us to easily replace the processes as the company evolved and developed. For example, the “Prepare new employee´s workspace” process has been replaced by “Hire new employee” process.

– How did the employees react when they had to start using ELMA?
– After we purchased ELMA, the retail executives were the ones who actually made us all start using it: they needed to deliver all the necessary information to each store and required an integrated information system. At once, they were able to see the advantages of ELMA.

Today, if there is any issue concerning complex coordination and control of our subdivisions, the managers ask if it can be handled in ELMA. This BPM system has become one of our main management tools, and we do not need to justify its use or development.

How would you evaluate the impact of ELMA implementation?
– We haven’t measured the effectiveness exactly, but it is definitely high. Now it is hard to imagine how some of our processes ever worked without a BPM system. Today, if there is any issue concerning complex coordination and control of our subdivisions, the managers want to know if they can handle it in ELMA. This BPM system has become one of our main management tools, and we do not need to justify its use or enhancement. We are still developing it, and are planning to integrate ELMA and our 1C systems.

– What advice can you give to those who think of business processes implementation in their company?
– My advice would be to start either with processes that are new, or those causing the most difficulties. Otherwise, the staff might react badly: they will view it as an interference or won´t take it with due seriousness, and might complain about its bad impact on performance. Later, when all the benefits become clear to the executives and any arising difficulties are seen as minor and temporary, you can automate the basic processes.

- My advice would be to start with new processes or those that are less painful for all the participants. Otherwise, the staff might react badly: they will view it as an interference or a temporary situation.