Putting the zest into learning with Citrus solution

Friday 10 December, 2010

Putting the zest into learning with Citrus solution

The Co-operative Group has completed the initial rollout of a new state-of-the-art online communication and training programme to food stores nationwide after a successful pilot.

CITRUS, which stands for Communication, Induction, Training, Resource, Understanding and Support, is a web-based application, developed in conjunction with BT Learn Diverse the learning division of BT Expedite, has been introduced to  teams within The Co-operative’s 3,000 food stores across the UK – including their estate of 258 Post Office franchises.
The CITRUS solution replaces Lotus notes email which was the previous tool used to communicate between the store and head office.

The first phase of the programme, which was launched in early autumn and trialled at 81 sites, ensures all store and post office staff receive exactly the same consistently high level of ‘on the job’ induction training – regardless of where they work or what they do, with the ability to deliver specific induction requirements based on the store’s customer offer.

CITRUS not only allows new colleagues to be inducted into the store and the wider society, but also enables existing store colleagues to brush up on their knowledge and develop new skills. Existing paper-based training packages will be added to CITRUS over the next 18 months, and will allow the Training Design Team to generate new interactive training modules and related quizzes to check understanding.

CITRUS also delivers a web-based solution to store that categorises its operational policies and procedures documentation which can be accessed in a number of ways by a variety of store and field management roles -  in particular, a ‘key word search engine’ removes the requirement for hard-copy procedural manuals and provides important operational information at the store team’s finger tips.

Mark Hale, Director of Food IS for The Co-operative Group, said: “The CITRUS programme will completely revolutionise our training and communications at both store and Head Office level.

“Over the last six years The Co-operative’s Food Retail business has significantly grown, both organically and through several substantial acquisitions, and the challenge has been to successfully integrate these businesses, while also encompassing many complex operational communication processes.

“CITRUS has provided an easy-to-use web-based system that incorporates computer-based training and store policy. 2011 will see additional phases of CITRUS launching a new web-based messaging system, operational task management and the delivery of an electronic form design engine and interactive form library.  It will help enhance colleague engagement by giving them immediate access to business tools and information so they become more confident and informed in their roles, which will ultimately help improve store’s operational standards and service levels.

“In essence, CITRUS is a simple but cost-effective solution that has brought about a series of changes which will put The Co-operative at the forefront of industry technology.”

The Co-operative Group’s Lisburn Road store in Belfast was the first to pilot the new CITRUS tool. Sarah Thurman, Store Manager, added: “I think CITRUS is fantastic as it allows my staff to take responsibility for their own training and development.

“I can easily keep track of everyone’s progress as my toolset allows me to see what stage each person is at, but it’s a much speedier process so I can spend more time focusing on improving my store and making it a better place to work for my team.”

Sally Taylor, Head of Client Training at BT Learn Diverse, added: “Learning technologies are constantly evolving. The BT Learn Diverse Team have undertaken extensive research to understand large companies and retailers business issues, to ensure we have designed and created learning, reference, support and communication solutions that combat every day real pain points.

“We are delighted to be working with such a fast-paced and innovative business as The Co-operative Food, and right from the outset we have worked very closely with their internal teams to ensure we are deploying technology that works and brings real benefits, rather than just providing ‘technology for technology sake’.  By deploying an integrated retail portal that will cater for all communications to store, whilst dynamically housing all learning and reference requirements, The Co-operative has a platform from which to strategically grow their business and their people.

“A key area for The Co-operative Group is that they can move the portal along themselves without having to come back to BT for changes.  The portal will help connect store staff with head office people, promoting a ‘working closer together’ spirit in the business.  I am very excited that we have been able to help The Co-operative meet their business objectives, but more importantly that every member of the 79,000 strong Food Team, across 3,000 food stores have a personal portal which tracks and monitors their journey with the company and will help them grow new skills, but is a safe place they can go to all of the time for up-to-the-minute information and learning they can trust.”