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Inside Avon's Failed Order-Management Project
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Sacalpha1
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Sacalpha1,
User Rank: Strategist
12/17/2013 | 11:18:33 PM
Poor custom development and lack of proper process design and acceptance
It sounds like there are definitely some issues with the UI.  So shame on Avon for designing and building a custom UI that still does not meet user needs (the primary reason you would custom build in the first place).  They should have invited some reps to be part of the design team and to be part of the acceptance testing team on the back end.  I don't get companies who always want some excuse to custom develop stuff.  They would have been better off with SAP's vanilla webshop capability and it certainly would have been a lot cheaper.  At least it works.  The ONLY reason to not use the delivered SAP capabilities is to minimize clicks and make the website easier and more intuitive and they certainly missed the boat on that.


I did not hear any mention in the article about process.  Their problems don't all appear to be with the technology.  If you are going to start pegging inventory to orders this requires a change in the way the manufacturing, distribution, and planning functions work.  I have to wonder if part of the issues are arising from a lack of proper process change and acceptance.  If this is the case, then again, shame on Avon for running such a poor project with inadequate business focus.....in this case you can't point the fingers at the technology or technology providers.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
12/16/2013 | 10:30:21 PM
Avon is Canada's healthcare.gov
The amusing part is that for a brief instant I thought this was a piece about healthcare.gov as it is suffering from the same epic fail as Avon's site is.
LauraS365
IW Pick
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LauraS365,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/16/2013 | 7:44:51 PM
Re: A Big More From the Record
I'm in IT and also an Avon rep on the side. This was a new website that has a matching new process. The 2 things together caused major problems for reps. And it is not only reps that sell small amount. Imagine a website that caters to both consumers and their sales force. The first one enter a maximum of 20 items (that's being hopeful) and the latter enters hundreds. A simple item includes multiple clicks. That's when it works. You cannot design a website to work for different audience. And most customers had a hard time with the website. 

People do not quit 'cos they don't know how to work something. Most people asked for help and learn; especially if it is your livelihood. The problem is that there were so many things wrong all at the same time. I swear it feels like they put in fixes on the fly - what works one day no longer works the next.

I don't understand how systems are designed with no thought to how your end users will use it. There was so many assumptions made with this sytem. 
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/16/2013 | 12:40:17 PM
The revolt of the end users at Avon
Quite interesting to see how the independent sales rep end user feedback doesn't match up to what Avon headquarters and technology provider spokesman say should be happening. If you are in the habit of pointing the finger at the end user when things go wrong, better consult again Ortega y Gassett's "The Revolt of the Masses."
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
12/16/2013 | 10:42:25 AM
Avon's Lessons
"The website is complex, it is not streamlined, and they put more steps in it than are needed," Edwards says of Avon's site.

We have heard this story before: get the project done on time, dev team, and if the users have to put up with some extra steps, so be it. In this case, the users spoke loud and clear. I can see why an Avon rep earning small change per month would not want to put up with the complexity.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
12/16/2013 | 9:40:25 AM
A Bit More From the Record
Avon did not respond to questions about the use of IBM WebSphere software. SAP's Jim Dever also stated, "The integrated Avon solution has been running as designed for more than seven months without significant technical issues or escalations." This echoes Avon's statement and the word "integrated" suggests it means SAP's back-end software together with an IBM WebSphere front end, but this account certainly runs counter to Edward's report. If "running as designed" led more than 10,000 sales reps to quit, you have to figure something was wrong with the design.   


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