On why the outdoor specialist has been using SEAK Software IT tools for staff scheduling and time management since 2006. And how the company reduces bureaucracy for both managers and the HR department, by promoting self-organisation for employees.
Globetrotter – that is one of the really big names in German outdoor retail. In 1979 the company was founded in Hamburg as “Northern Germany’s first specialist shop for expeditions, safaris, survival, trekking”. With its at times spectacularly staged adventure shopping worlds, Globetrotter has since become one of the largest outdoor retailers in Europe.
Sustainability is an important part of the company’s DNA. It comes with a strong commitment to nature and the environment as well as efforts to ensure fair working conditions in the global supply chain, improving their “ecological footprint” and an increase in the proportion of organic products.
As the central marketing tool, the Globetrotter magazine provides information and reports on all aspects of travel, equipment and the outdoors. It is sent out quarterly with a circulation of around 400,000 copies.
Globetrotter’s online shop offers more than 35,000 products from over 1,000 brands. The company (part of the Swedish Fenix Outdoor International) currently operates 16 branches across Germany. Including the logistics and shipping facilities in Ludwigslust, the company employs around 1,100 people.
Globetrotter works with IT partner SEAK Software in the areas of staff scheduling and time management.
Rather exceptionally, this partnership goes as far back as 2006. Omid Soltani has been on board since the beginning. Initially in the Product Service / QM / HR Administration & Projects department, he is now responsible for retail at Globetrotter as manager for Workforce Management. We asked the expert a few questions.
What convinced Globetrotter to work with one and the same software partner for staff scheduling and time management for 14 years?
Omid Soltani: The SEAK philosophy. It is strongly geared towards customer satisfaction. The SEAK management takes great interest in ensuring that everything runs smoothly. That’s why both managing directors, Andreas Knüpfer and Patrick Rogalski, are personally available for discussions. That is remarkable.
The software solutions are completely trade-oriented. I know a lot of other providers. But nobody has the breadth and depth of the people who work at SEAK.
About staff scheduling á la SEAK software: who works with this solution at Globetrotter and what are your experiences?
Soltani: Staff scheduling is done by our sales units managers, who are the department heads of individual stores. The system is indispensable when it comes to planning the right number of employees at the right time in the right place, equipped with the right knowledge and at the optimal cost-level.
With its analysis functions and plan / actual comparison, the software promotes clarity and simply enables better decisions. That helped us a lot after the takeover by the Swedish Fenix group, because our parent company attaches great importance to numbers-driven corporate management. That’s why we need a system like the one SEAK Software offers.
In addition to the full versions of staff scheduling, time management and access control, you have been working with the SEAK Employee Service Portal, ESP, since 2018. What problems did you aim to solve with the ESP?
Soltani: There are indeed some points that have been resolved with the introduction of the Employee Service Portal, such as the paperwork and the associated folder management, confusion with holiday requests, booking entries and corrections, as well as hour corrections.
Who applied when for what and was it approved? At some point it became very difficult to keep track of things. Insufficient transparency in terms of staff scheduling, working hours, free time or days off or absences – all of that is now a thing of the past.
What are the benefits for you?
Soltani: The employee service portal is completely web-based and makes taking care of all those time-consuming processes such as holiday requests, forgotten bookings, plan corrections and enquiries about the time balance or holiday status easier and faster.
Time recording, requests, the approval workflow, etc. – how many of the available functions do you use?
Soltani: We use the employee service portal more and more. We aim to make use of all its functions.
This gives employees the opportunity to take care of many processes themselves – even via smartphone. Requests are approved by the supervisor and the relevant data are automatically transferred to time management.
With the employee service portal, employees can also find out about the current status of their applications, time balances and holiday status at any time. This way of self-organisation relieves managers and the HR department.
What do the employees say?
Soltani: At first people were skeptical. But we took the time to introduce and establish the system, and after various training courses, employee satisfaction with it has made a big leap forward.
Why is this so important to you?
Soltani: Happy and satisfied employees are the best employees. To ensure satisfaction, you have to involve them as much as possible in processes that affect them personally. This requires digital tools such as the employee service portal.
Are you considering any next steps regarding this topic?
Soltani: Yes. SEAK’s mobile duty roster for our employees’ smartphones and tablet PCs.
What do you aim to achieve with this tool?
Soltani: It offers employees location- and time-independent access to their schedules, which makes the time-consuming communication of paper-based duty rosters and plan changes redundant. When looking for a replacement, the team leaders can immediately see which employee is available.
We want to introduce the mobile duty roster this year.
What other plans do you have?
Soltani: We want to invest in the SEAK Team Performance Monitor. I tested the system myself a few years ago. It’s even better now.
What are your expectations for it?
Soltani: This solution will help us identify the current position of the company in relation to its goals, to the previous year or other comparison parameters. With just two or three clicks, for example, you can see the key figures, and their development compared to the plan or previous year.
This is information that can usually only be obtained with great effort. SEAK makes these processes easily accessible.
Is there anything you would recommend for fellow retailers, especially during these recent times?
Soltani: Invest in software support that enables leaner processes, frees up valuable time and ensures more transparency at all hierarchical levels. It’s worth it.
We thank Omid Soltani for the interview. The interview was conducted by retail journalist Bruno Reiferscheid.
Photos © Globetrotter Ausrüstung GmbH / Omid Soltani / redgunski – Michael Neumann
Cover image: Globetrotter Cologne