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Waitrose has realised “hundreds of thousands of pounds” in efficiencies savings after rolling out ‘idea management’ software platform to its all staff members.

The Wazoku Idea Spotlight software is used to the supermarket chain’s internal innovation strategy, dubbed Partner Ideas. This offers all employees – from cashiers on the shop floor to delivery drivers workers – the opportunity to make suggestions for how to improve the business via a mobile device.

"The software gives us a web-based opportunity for people to log in through their own profile and submit ideas which come direct to my team, who are responsible for delivering them," says Waitrose’s operational improvement manager, Stuart Eames.

"This software has given partners the ability to submit their ideas incredibly easily and in a very simple process," he added.

"This system gives them a mobile platform, they could just be sitting on their tea break or out and about in their vans and have an opportunity to upload [an idea] there and then," says Eames.

How does Wazoku's Idea Spotlight work?

Wazoku's Idea Spotlight is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that enables business leaders 'to capture, evaluate, prioritise and select ideas' more effectively. The cloud platform is powered by Rackspace and encrypts all data being transferred from employee logins and browsers to their servers.

The software runs an AES-256 256-bit SSL encryption which is similar to that of online banking sites and stores all employee passwords as salted SHA-512 digests providing a high level of security.

Users will gain access to a dashboard that provides key analytics, from which employee has provided the most suggestions to the ‘best innovator’, offering a centralised resource of ideas to senior executives.

Waitrose staff can also upload photos and videos of their ideas which are automatically saved to Google Drive.

The ideas platform can be enabled from most internet devices opposed to downloading a programme or installing a plugin.

"The software is fully adaptable to whichever way you want to run an ideas scheme," says Eames.

"Everything that we challenged of them [Wasoku] they came up with solutions and ways to work round it," he added.

An innovation powered by ideas management software

According to Eames, the Wazoku platform has been active since February last year and since then has seen over 2,500 engaged users with over 860 positive suggestions being made, resulting in a 20 percent success rate.

One simple employee suggestion resulted in Waitrose saving hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The suggestion was to remove unnecessary button presses from their instant coffee transactions. Waitrose brought this into action by bringing the 'get coffee' button to the front of the 
screen.

"That alone is hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of benefit to us because we have 311 million transactions," says Eames

"If there wasn’t this scheme around, how would you get an idea like that from a person who is dealing with that everyday up to someone that can actually make that change happen at head office?" he adds.

Waitrose has had a suggestion scheme running for years but lacked visibility among its tens of thousands of employees.

"One of the other things that is really important for us is that everybody that works in Waitrose – whether in in a shop or out delivering goods - they’re not sitting in front of a work station all day. So when they have these brainwaves, these ideas, this system gives them a mobile platform that they could just be sitting on their tea break, or out and about in their vans, and have an opportunity to upload there and then," says Eames.

"We were doing ourselves a disservice by having a scheme which really wasn't all it was cracked up to be," he added.

With disruption driving transformation and innovation in most businesses, it's important for Waitrose to take heed or fall short of its competitors.

"I think systematically this innovation was happening within Waitrose however what we weren’t doing was really levering the power of partners’ ideas. I don’t think we’ve done justice with partners’ ideas in the past, but that’s all changing now so that’s really good." says Eames.