Archived Red Instocks Scores and How to Convince Management to Fix It the Right Way

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OK, prepare yourself. I'm about to build a wall of text.

First, some background info. Last March we lost our Instocks TL. We'll call him "Ted". Ted decided he wanted to go back to school. Management wouldn't let him take Saturdays off even though he said he would forfeit his schedule rotation and work every Sunday in exchange. So, he stepped down and moved to the POG team and eventually transferred to a different store. Since then, we haven't had an Instocks TL that scans with us. Now we have a combination BR/IS TL - we'll refer to him a "Bill" - who only oversees the process. He is never directly involved. As such, I have taken on the role of de facto ISTL as I am, by far, the most experienced and knowledgeable Instocks team member in the store.

Prior to Bill taking over, we had another BRISTL named "Jack". Jack's main focus, however, seemed to be with the backroom. He knew almost nothing of Instocks. When he took over, management promised he would go to a different store to be trained on the IS process. It never happened. Anytime the other IS team member (yes, there are only two of us in a Super Target) and I had problems, we couldn't rely on him to help us. We would always go straight to our ETL-Log. I began to get really frustrated that our process was falling apart and I was continually complaining to the ETL-Log about Jack's lack of leadership and involvement in Instocks. Jack eventually quit right before Christmas. I'm fairly certain he was avoiding being terminated.

After Jack quit, Bill moved from his position as early morning Flow TL and took over the BRISTL spot. Bill tries to be involved with our team a lot more than Jack ever was. However, he has only trained for a couple of days at a different store so he really is still a beginner as far as Instocks is concerned.

Now, a while back, the PDA's were updated with the awesome Store Tie function and, eventually, the process moved to only Research in the Instocks task list. We explained to the team how great this would be in helping team members locate items on the sales floor while working pulls; our inventory numbers would be more accurate as well as helping to reduce process errors that contribute to shortage. However, to this day, there is only one person that I know of in the ENTIRE store that actually uses the Store Tie function. Ted always talked at morning huddles about how important it was to use it, as well as the importance of stocking to the piece, not overstocking, and using the proper applications to pull items from the back rather than using EXF on active POGs. I have continued to do this as well but it just never works I'm the only one who makes it an issue. The ETLs and STL never enforce those practices fully. This is in addition to the fact that our Flow team hates backstocking things after they are done with the morning push, so they end up stocking things in the wrong location and overstocking things in order to reduce backstock. Most times when I am working RIGs, I end up with a ton of overstock that I have to bring to the backroom to be backstocked. I'm constantly having to superzone whole sections, and occasionally whole aisles for the big things (infant hardlines, luggage, etc.) in order to accurately count a single RIG, set up rainchecks, and ensure that all active items are being represented on the sales floor and not rotting away in the back until it is discontinued or goes clearance/salvage.

These are all things that have been problems since Ted was still with us. But management never made it a priority because we had plenty of payroll hours to keep our scores always hovering at or just above solid green. Once the only-research task list rolled out (right around the time Ted left the team) our scored slowly dropped and bounced between yellow and green. This is surely due to the various process errors that we mentioned that never got fixed. But no one ever paid attention to our team or our scores so it all flew under the radar. Then headquarters changed the green threshold to 7% and our scores are now red. Right after that happened, our printer went down and we couldn't print substitution signs for a little over a week which screwed our Raincheck Effectiveness score and thus our Sales Floor score tanked. And by tanked, I mean, 66%. Blood red. That's when people started paying attention to Instocks. Management noticed our score was red and they wanted to know why. I explained the printer problem which had since been fixed and we were just waiting for our scores to update to see the Sales Floor score come out of the gutter (which it did). I also explained the various reasons why our Instocks scores were so low: Flow not pushing to the piece, overstocking, failing to use the Store Tie function, bad BRLA score, rampant misuse of EXF, etc. However, the STL got it into his head that the integrity of our morning scan sucks and that was the reason for so many Outs with Locs. I've mentioned many of the real problems to the STL just during casual conversation and to the team during huddle and the STL just dismisses me and chalks it up to only a handful of team members and their lack or either proper training or integrity.

Now we've drawn the attention of the Group Operations Leader and my ETL-Log and BRISTL are freaking out and breathing down my neck to get our Outs with Locations % down. I keep explaining the various things we need to change in our store in order for that to happen. I keep asking for them to have my back on these issues because I can't really make an impact on the STLs decisions as a "lowly" Instocks Team Member. Over the weekend, I discussed the various ways that we can fix our scores with the BRISTL. He said he contacted various stores in our district to see how they do it. The first thing he said he found out was that everyone else was getting lots more payroll for Instocks than our store; something I've been complaining about since Ted left. I'm in an A volume store, and there are only two regular scanners. There are two others that are trained but only one scans a couple days a week for only 1.5 hours and the other is there as a back up in case we call in or request time off. This past Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, I was the only person scanning the entire store which is a pretty typical scanning schedule for our Instocks team.

Anyway, what my BRISTL decided was the best solution to our problem was to use EXF (!) and OUTS until our scores get better. A "solution" that was reiterated to me by my ETL-Log - and backed by the STL - and a solution with which I vehemently disagreed. The ETL-Log basically told me I have no choice. I told her that if we were to go through with it (which we have been for the past couple of days) our scores would most likely be green in the next couple of weeks and everyone would forget any of the problems that still exist and in fact those problems would very likely only be exacerbated. When we go back to scanning research the right way, our scores will most likely dip back into yellow and red almost immediately. And that's even ignoring the fact that, without regular research scans, nothing, or at least very little, will drop into our Drastic Count Report.

Whew. OK, the advice I'm looking for is whether or not I am going about this the right way or if maybe I should go above the ETL-Log's head and try to get the STL to meet with me personally. I've never talked to him about these most recent developments personally. They are always relayed through my BRISTL and ETL-Log. Should I maybe request that I begin attending the team lead meetings so I can voice my concerns to them as well since I'm certain none of this information reaches the group as a whole? Any other ideas? I just want to do this the right way. I certainly don't get paid NEARLY enough to worry about this so much but I just want to be able to say that I did the right thing.

Thanks for your help.
 
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Unresponsive senior leadership is one of the hardest things to overcome. They insist on short-term thinking to stay green now and avoid the real issues. Keep outlining your case and challenging upward. I'm not sure that going to your STL is going to help since he seems to have already have a tendency to dismiss your concerns. But keep pointing out the issues. Keep in mind that I have strong rapport with my ETL, but this is what I do. I recently found tons of incorrectly stocked product in a Electronics, so I called my ETL over and explained what it was that I was seeing. I used the instocks function in item search to show him that the product was just received on the previous trailer, corroborating that the flow team was not stocking properly. If the zone is super terrible and would take more than a minute to fix, skip the RIG and use the bad zone reasoning. If it's a full aisle, call the ETL/LOD over and show them what it looks like. You have to demonstrate the issues. If you continually take time to just fix them, the only problem left for them to see is what you ran out of time to do.

As for your instocks process, you should be using outs since your BRLA score is bad. Avoid EXF as much as possible. Make sure you are completing the RIGs daily. Those are essentially free "scans with locs" because it does not count against that score, even if you pull from the back. It's clear that you understand how instocks needs to be done, so keep challenging them to follow best practices.
 
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As for your instocks process, you should be using outs since your BRLA score is bad. Avoid EXF as much as possible. Make sure you are completing the RIGs daily.
Shortly after the Instocks task list was updated to remove the Outs tasks, my STL mentioned to me that someone always screws it up for our store because they used the Stand Alone Outs app. I asked what he meant and he said that we weren't supposed to be using it at all because it was going to be removed soon. I told him that I didn't think that was true and explained Best Practice as it pertained to using Outs: Use it when BRLA is red, back stock and push isn't completed in an area, Research tasks don't generate, etc. He shook his head and said, "Nope. I got an email from headquarters saying that we aren't to be using it. Period. It's going away." Without telling him, I immediately checked Workbench to be sure, and of course I was right. I just kept it to myself but I stopped using Outs like he's said.*I honestly think he just failed his reading comprehension class and didn't understand the email.*

When my ETL-Log told us to start using Outs instead of Research again, I explained that the STL told us not to use it and she said that he was the one telling her to tell us to use Outs. I also told her how EXF affects the accumulator and that abusing it would only make things worse. She said it didn't matter and we just were getting too much unwanted attention.*Last year, our STL made a big stink about how the sales floor team members needed to stop abusing EXF. So they stopped...for about a month. After that, it went back to the way it has always been and the ETLs stopped caring. I swear, watching management try to fix this stuff is like watching a dog chase its tail.
 
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I am somewhat in your position as the unofficial leader if Instocks. My IS/BR TL, however, is very knowledgeable about IS but spends 99% of the time in the BR. We are having some of the same problems you are but not to the same extent. Our leaders bounce back and forth between EXF=bad or EXF your butt off. I get frustrated as well but I am NOT the team lead so I do what I'm told and therefore I refuse to (and haven't been asked to) shoulder any of the blame if the score is bad. I feel your pain but you are not being paid enough to be stressed out.
 

commiecorvus

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I am somewhat in your position as the unofficial leader if Instocks. My IS/BR TL, however, is very knowledgeable about IS but spends 99% of the time in the BR. We are having some of the same problems you are but not to the same extent. Our leaders bounce back and forth between EXF=bad or EXF your butt off. I get frustrated as well but I am NOT the team lead so I do what I'm told and therefore I refuse to (and haven't been asked to) shoulder any of the blame if the score is bad. I feel your pain but you are not being paid enough to be stressed out.

That would be my only advice, do the best job you can but don't kill yourself.
They are certainly not paying you to do that.
 
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Thanks for the responses everyone. My team lead is trying to implement a few changes this week which, as I said, I doubt will work. I'll just try to sit back and watch the impending mess that gets made just to say 'I told you so'.
 
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it is suggested to watch instock numbers when you try something different. look for any changes. then say, lets try doing this function & see if it improves our score, etc. dont give up!
 
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I check MyPerformance every Monday and Workbench messages daily just to stay up to date on everything. I like to be able to know as much as or more than anyone else when it comes to my department.

After a week of using the Outs function, our Research with Loc % dropped to 9.3%. It would have probably been lower if we had done it starting on Sunday but I didn't get that order until Wednesday.

Funny thing is that I just had a conversation with one of the hard lines TLs and the food Sr. TL. The food TL was complaining about how badly zoned some of her grocery aisles were. She super zoned a few and came away with 3 carts of backstock.

The hard lines TL complained about certain things pulling on CAFs over and over and he had to keep back stocking them. He said, "They need to fix that glitch because it's becoming a huge waste of time for us." I told him that it wasn't a glitch and that it was from abusing the EXF function. He had no idea that it could mess things up so badly.

At the end of the conversation they both told me to go to the TL meeting on Friday because it was such a huge problem and all the team leads had been getting conflicting information.

It sucks that it's so bad that other people are starting to notice too but this is exactly what I've been predicting. I'm just glad that at least a couple TLs are on my side.

Thanks again for the responses guys.
 
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if certain things are keep out on the cafs, multi answers:
1. unset but tied saleplanners - tl forgot or had no time to push the pulled pog
2. exf's
3. wrong labels on endcap or flexed out endcaps
4. all locations checked?
5. wrong quanity count on shelf
a few quick ideas...
 
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if certain things are keep out on the cafs, multi answers:
1. unset but tied saleplanners - tl forgot or had no time to push the pulled pog
2. exf's
3. wrong labels on endcap or flexed out endcaps
4. all locations checked?
5. wrong quanity count on shelf
a few quick ideas...

Capacity issues...grrrrr. By the time My Support gets back to you, that endcap is reset.
 
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Using OUTS instead of research had no impact on your scans with loc %. OUTS affects your percentage just like research does. I am sorry to tell you, but your STL is right. No teams should be using OUTS anymore. Pull your group scanning report, chances are none of the other stores are using this function but yours. Digging into the numbers is the only way to identify trends in scans w/loc to lower the score. It may be a scanning issue, or a BRLA issue. It could also be a PUSH issue.
 
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Using OUTS instead of research had no impact on your scans with loc %. OUTS affects your percentage just like research does. I am sorry to tell you, but your STL is right. No teams should be using OUTS anymore. Pull your group scanning report, chances are none of the other stores are using this function but yours. Digging into the numbers is the only way to identify trends in scans w/loc to lower the score. It may be a scanning issue, or a BRLA issue. It could also be a PUSH issue.

That is far from the truth. I think you need to do some reading on Best Practices. I've already listed the circumstances in which one should use SA Outs: BRLA % is red in the area you are scanning; Push and backstock is not fully completed in the area you are scanning; Research tasks did not generate for the day; Bad zoning; And excess stray (abandon). That is nearly verbatim from Workbench. As soon as the new process of the Research-Only task list rolled out last year, SA Outs lost its weight in our scoring metric. Again, it is still an acceptable way of pulling from the backroom under certain circumstances. But it does not affect the Research with Locs %.

Even if you read about the new Instocks process which some stores have been piloting and which will be rolling out in the next couple months for other stores, it still highlights the fact that SA Outs will be the go-to application in all of those instances. I've poured over the scanning report as well as the pull types report and you're right. Most stores don't use the SA Outs application. And I'm betting their Instocks process is just as screwed up , yet they most likely use the above mentioned shortcuts to cover up their crappy scores, just like our store is trying to do. Every store is also supposed to be using the Store-Tie application as well, however, according to something I read on Workbench just a couple days ago, only 25% of stores are actually using it consistently. Just because stores operate in a certain way in order to keep their scores green, doesn't mean it's the right way. It just takes a few minutes of reading about other stores' Instocks processes on this site to know that very few people follow best practice when it comes to Instocks.

Just last week, I was scheduled to work with the Flow team in order to give them some insight into how our processes affect each other. I had conversations with a few people who were concerned about the supposed "glitch" that forces the system to continuously pull items from the backroom after they are backstocked. I explained the overuse of EXF in our store and how it creates problems with the accumulator. Having studied the numbers on the pull types report from various stores in our district, I can attest to the fact that it's not just our store who uses EXF too much. Just a few weeks ago, around Easter I believe, our store had 3000+ eaches pulled from the back using EXF. On average we pull around 1000+ EXF eaches on a weekly basis. That's way too much.

So, while I would agree that, at least in our store, the Flow team could benefit from some integrity on their part, a lot of the mistakes they make are not necessarily their fault. Items keep getting pulled from the back so they think it *has* to go somewhere or they will get in trouble for not doing their job. So they overstock and flex things into the wrong spot in an effort to make things look full. It's a vicious cycle. I can't expect Flow to do their job well when the sales floor team members and team leads are essentially following them around and ruining things.
 
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Instalker,
Pull up "maintaining in stocks" best practice. It clearly states that outs is not longer used. At one point outs were in the task list, but it's been eliminated. OUTS is included in your research with loc score. You need to pull up the information on mysupport. I can tell you that not one store in my entire group is using OUTs.

Using EXF does not have the affect on the accumulator that you think it does. Overshooting the capacity is what causes an item to keep pulling, it has very littlte to do with how many eaches you pull. I imagone soon enough the amount of EXFs that we request will be scored. I have gone over the effect that EXF has on the accumulator in another thread.

The overstocking and flexing is why the items keep pulling. What does your SFLA look like? You could have an issue with POGs tied incorrectly. Sales floor tie can create a lot of issues if not used correctly, and if the ties don't get broken you can bet your floor won't replenish effectively.
 
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I think it is this one:
continue in research. EXF just has the potential to create too many errors in the replenishment system. Say the capacity is 12 and there are zero on the floor. When you scan it in research and enter 0, no matter what the accumulator thought was on the floor already, it knows there are zero and the need for that item is set to 12. If you have 24 in the backroom, it pulls the 12 needed to fill to capacity and the accumulator for that item goes back to 12. The item is full and will pull correctly as the item sells or is defected out.

Now say that instead of researching the out you key in an EXF for the capacity. So first you have to switch over to item search and see what the capacity is and then see how many are actually backstocked. There are 24 backstocked and the capacity is 12 so you put in an EXF for 12. 12 are pulled and all 12 fit on the floor. Seemingly the same benefit. But now you sell all 12. Let's say the accumulator was already at 12 before you scanned an EXF for it. Since it thought the floor already had 12 and it pulled another 12, the accumulator is now sitting at 24. This item only pulls when it's at half its capacity. Once the accumulator reaches 6 the item will drop into the autofills or CAFs. So you sell through all 12 that came out on the EXF. Now the accumulator is back at 12 when you have 0 on the floor. A case comes in on the next truck but it is sent to direct because the accumulator thinks the floor is full. So now you have 24 in the backroom that will not drop into the autofills or CAFs because the sales accumulator thinks the floor is full. Now it's been a few days and you come by and scan it on an all scan day. BAM. You just got a scan with a location in the backroom. The accumulator is now reset, but all that original EXF did was postpone you scanning the item in research and taking a hit. Had you scanned the out in research to begin with, you wouldn't have wasted time with the EXF, and you would've saved yourself from scanning it twice.

You can imagine how messy this can get with 30,000+ different items in the store. We don't have time to do double work. Take the hit and go on. The instocks team is rarely the reason scans with locations are red. It's every other process in the store that causes scans with locations. Flow not pushing to the piece, backroom burning batches, salesfloor not zoning to planogram, pog team not shooting research, cashiers using K2 for similar items that aren't the same DPCI, the market team QMOSing from the wrong area, etc. Those are the problems that need to be corrected. Your leadership should not be "correcting" the instocks team when they are the one team that is doing their job right.

Sigma, you are incorrect. EXF's do not add to the salesfloor accumulator. What you are actually doing when you EXF is changing the fill need on the floor. If the accumulator is at 11 and you EXF 12, you are telling the system there is a need for 12 on the floor. When the 12 are pulled from the backroom it resets the need on the floor to 0. If you EXF 6, and the accumulator is at 12, the higher need (12) will be pulled and sent to the floor even if you only request 6 (this is how the system keeps a team member from ordering less than has sold on the floor).
You're understanding of the accumulator is being explained backwards in your post. The accumulator starts at zero, not the shelf cap.
If the accumulator is at 12 when zero is on the floor, then it means that there is a need for 12 and it will pull. If there are only six in the BR then the system is still showing a need for 6, allowing autopush to fill the floor when it comes on the next truck.
When the accumulator is at 0, and there is zero on the floor, but product in the BR that is what increases scans with locations when doing research. PM me if you need more details.
Aisles should not be SAR by the POG team. The filters are there in the task list for a reason.
 
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Fixing it the right way would be improving the accuracy of your flow team. Thats what the reesearch with loc % score points out, where your flow is inefficient so you can find ways to increase the accuracy of that fill group. Choosing between exf and outs is really just covering the problem up because you know your Logistics ETL is not going to fix it anyway. So what your really asking is the most efficient way to get that number under 7% while still actually doing instocks (which is really about on hand accuracy and generating label drops to the DC to get product). So why not try overscanning in research (simular to the way stores over scanned outs before it was taken away). At least this way your trying to effect instock issues. Just be careful with what your updating. Err on the updates that you know hit drastic count and really follow up on it the next day. Honestly picking between exfs and outs, you could not scan at all and just rework the flow backstock and essentially achieve the same thing. Areas that have high research with loc %, just do more scans their each week.
 
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Fixing it the right way would be improving the accuracy of your flow team. Thats what the reesearch with loc % score points out, where your flow is inefficient so you can find ways to increase the accuracy of that fill group. Choosing between exf and outs is really just covering the problem up because you know your Logistics ETL is not going to fix it anyway. So what your really asking is the most efficient way to get that number under 7% while still actually doing instocks (which is really about on hand accuracy and generating label drops to the DC to get product). So why not try overscanning in research (simular to the way stores over scanned outs before it was taken away). At least this way your trying to effect instock issues. Just be careful with what your updating. Err on the updates that you know hit drastic count and really follow up on it the next day. Honestly picking between exfs and outs, you could not scan at all and just rework the flow backstock and essentially achieve the same thing. Areas that have high research with loc %, just do more scans their each week.

You also need to factor in working the Challenge items and SF tms accurately working pulls and reshop. It never ceases to amaze me that there is backstock from the priority pulls that are the result of instocks scans. Unless it is a full casepack IT ALL GOES OUT!!!
 

sigma7

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You also need to factor in working the Challenge items and SF tms accurately working pulls and reshop. It never ceases to amaze me that there is backstock from the priority pulls that are the result of instocks scans. Unless it is a full casepack IT ALL GOES OUT!!!

Unless the capacity is wrong to begin with...
 
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You also need to factor in working the Challenge items and SF tms accurately working pulls and reshop. It never ceases to amaze me that there is backstock from the priority pulls that are the result of instocks scans. Unless it is a full casepack IT ALL GOES OUT!!!

Unless the capacity is wrong to begin with...

...due to an encap not being untied when it's killed.
 

sigma7

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You also need to factor in working the Challenge items and SF tms accurately working pulls and reshop. It never ceases to amaze me that there is backstock from the priority pulls that are the result of instocks scans. Unless it is a full casepack IT ALL GOES OUT!!!

Unless the capacity is wrong to begin with...

...due to an encap not being untied when it's killed.

or just due to the planogram having overstated capacities.
 
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You also need to factor in working the Challenge items and SF tms accurately working pulls and reshop. It never ceases to amaze me that there is backstock from the priority pulls that are the result of instocks scans. Unless it is a full casepack IT ALL GOES OUT!!!

Unless the capacity is wrong to begin with...
...due to an encap not being untied when it's killed.
or just due to the planogram having overstated capacities.
That has happened too.
 
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or just due to the planogram having overstated capacities.

Poles screwing up POGs and HQ being unable to figure out correct capacities(and refusing to update them) were the banes of my existence on instocks. Our last set the gum changed and every single peg was off by at least 10 and every day they showed up on the rigs because there was less than capacity in the store and product in the back. I ended up constantly putting in [capacity minus actual need] instead of counting the pegs and having to re-backstock it again.
 
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