Now that we have some background information about the company and its beginnings, let’s talk about some of your work.
Q: What is one of the greatest success stories or most challenging projects you’ve worked on in the last 21 years?
Lesley: Over the years, we have found that companies facing significant internal changes in people, processes or technology and those going through mergers, acquisitions and integrations pose the greatest challenges. Generally, every facet of the business is involved and there are huge opportunities to either get it right or not. These projects engage our team at multiple levels and functions throughout the organization and we have an opportunity to create a unified vision and alignment.
Additionally, there are significant opportunities for synergies, growth and/or efficiencies that the entire company can embrace and measure. This is a time of change and uncertainty for our clients and creates an environment where our team is able to truly make an impact. While incredibly challenging to get through, these projects also end up being the most rewarding.
One project, in particular, really stands out in terms of the breadth and depth of our team’s involvement and the positive outcomes that resulted. A venture capital firm was purchasing one division of a large convenience operator, along with several other assets, and they didn’t have any knowledge of the industry. We had to fundamentally transition every aspect of the business away from the parent company and into a stand-alone company and brand, while simultaneously hiring new people to help run daily operations.
On top of that, we were facing a very compressed timeline. This project had a lot of moving parts. We needed to manage an acquisition integration, replace all legacy systems, implement new systems, work on a new customer facing and loyalty programs to make the company successful in this new environment and help develop an organization to work in ways it had not done before. All of this had to be done and then embraced by the new organization to ensure it was as profitable or more profitable than before.
I’m happy to say we were able to succeed with this client through the incredible teamwork and cooperation from our team, the leadership and teams running the company and third-party solution providers. The transition was expected to last 12-18 months and maintain the existing customer base. The combined team was able to complete the entire transition in less than 7 months and actually increased loyalty customers in its new, revamped program. This was truly one of the greatest achievements and learning experiences for Impact 21.
While we aren’t the largest consulting firm supporting retail, the client chose us because of our understanding and passion for the business and our previous experience working in similar situations. This client really took a chance on us and it paid off big time in the end for everybody involved. By touching every aspect of the business, our team can truly say “we’ve done it all” in terms of convenience and fuel retailing.
Lisa: One of our greatest projects to me is really more of an ongoing success story with one of our longest running clients. I think it is most relevant to proving that our business alignment model works and demonstrates how it evolves to incorporate new strategies over time. It also shows the skills and expertise Impact 21 brings forward as our team engages with an organization to drive key initiatives and put the processes in place to help them manage many competing priorities ongoing. Our greatest success is our ability to prop a client up in the short term while leaving behind a strong, cross-functional team and methodologies to manage systems, processes, and data continuously.
Before this large regional oil company became a client, we had to bid against some of the largest consulting firms. In the end, we won the job and were tasked with bringing the organization together to automate retail systems, which were tied to corporate and store level merchandising, fuel, and accounting systems, as well as shared infrastructure on the petroleum side. This was a bold undertaking for our company at the time due to the large number of resources and time commitment involved.
Having been in convenience and fuel retailing with our own commissaries, bakeries, warehouses, and multi-state, third-party distributions for food, merchandise, and fuel, we understood how to close gaps in supply chains. We brought leadership and subject matter expertise forward to serve as an extension of their team and drive change. We also brought metrics and numbers to the table, which showed a real value proposition to making the changes we all agreed needed to be made.
Impact 21 has always been supported by the numbers and delivers a strong ROI with our clients. Our cost/benefit analyses and results are relevant and have been backed up many times over the years as our clients continue to see the gains through shifts in strategies and tactics. At the end of the day, we are action and results oriented and we instill this in the organization as we bring cross-functional alignment.
What really proved our success here is how our business alignment methodology became part of the company’s fabric. We continued to manage these multi-year initiatives with our client and saw them through many shifts in strategies, including leading some of the most comprehensive endeavors the company had ever attempted. The largest was a complete refresh of all systems infrastructure, getting them out of the software development and support business, and moving them to a strategy to be an integrator of best in class infrastructure with more advanced and specialized operational technologies across each of the businesses.
The business alignment process continued to prove so valuable; we were nimble enough with the same limited resources to establish an integration project management office and processes to lead the integration of several acquisitions – a process that remains in place today. We are still actively engaged and working with this client presently on many new and exciting initiatives.