Client Situation

The client is a public corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange. By 1997, client Company needed a comprehensive HR services strategy to support its retail operations in 42 states and Canada. The client faced many of the profit challenges common in the retail industry: 40-50% employee turnover; thin margins; and increased labor competition in a strong economy. In addition, the client was under increasing cost scrutiny by its shareholders. Strategically, opportunities dictated migrating quickly to a large-store model and introducing new direct marketing and catalog sales channels. E–commerce and international market potential were on the horizon, but the client’s HR department was not equipped to support these initiatives. Neither the existing HR system, which was not Y2K compliant, nor the outsourced payroll service were sufficiently responsive to the company’s reporting needs or data tracking requirements.

Cedar’s Approach

In November of 1997, the retail company chose Cedar to help articulate a new HR business vision, conduct a business process reengineering effort, and lead an HRIS vendor evaluation and selection endeavor. Cedar responded with an innovative set of solutions.

With its strategic visioning process, Cedar worked with client to develop a strategy that included support for employee self service and automated workflow for HR transactions, which minimized the time spent on HR processes by store managers.

In this program, Cedar was mandated to provide a detailed market assessment of North American steel mill products market and its distributions channels, notably, Steel Service Centers (SSCs).

Cedar also helped the client envision enterprise-wide linkages from Loss Prevention and Point-of-Sale processes into Payroll. This unique-to-retail solution enabled the organization to create incentive bonuses based on quantifiable performance, at any level within the operation.

Together, the client and Cedar developed a strategic plan that accommodated the retail industry’s particular need to think, decide, and act quickly. Since time and immediate results were critical, the client formulated a new corporate HR vision which included selecting and implementing a leading HR management system and aligning with a premier payroll service provider well known for accuracy and customer service.

The retail company also selected Cedar to provide rapid implementation assistance and training for the PeopleSoft system. Within an 11-month period, the new strategy was implemented and the new systems were live. A very important key to executing an HR strategic vision successfully, particularly in the case of the client’s project, was a dedicated project team of decision makers.


The two main variable cost drivers in retail are inventory and labor. Many retail organizations focus their system efforts on inventory and neglect the HRIS function.

The retail company recognized the need to focus on labor productivity and, in a very short period of time, developed and executed a strategic vision that positioned itself to manage this function and support future growth.

The mindset of many retailers is that a new HR strategic vision cannot be formulated and executed quickly and successfully. With a flexible management team, the right business partners, and a dedicated project team, the client successfully challenged this theory by creating and executing a new HR vision in less than one year.

Cedar offers industry-leading solutions to help organizations maximize the return on their enterprise system investments and drive improved organizational performance.

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