Last year Walmart announced that the company would spend $2.7 billion in associate wages, training, and other benefits. In a newsworthy story, the company increased pay for 1.2 million associates with a new compensation plan. Walmart brought all hourly associates in the U.S. up to earning at minimum $10 an hour. That’s a significant volume of change in payroll, and Walmart wanted to execute the increase for the whole company together in one day. The challenge Srivastava faced was to communicate wage increases to 1.2 million associates on a single day through personalized letters to each employee by location. The notice needed to be written several weeks prior to the effective date of the change. Traditionally, when an associate receives a pay increase, the store manager meets with the associate to present him or her with a personal notice and discuss the pay change. Normally, the system generates a letter after the pay changes take effect in the stores, which meant that 1.2 million associates would be receiving letters and notifications in a single day. Because the change affected so many associates, it would have been challenging for the store and club managers to take care of customers and also have personal interactions with each associate in a single day. Srivastava had to come up with a solution so that managers could start alerting employees of the change, present the paperwork, and have those conversations all without disrupting the business.
Walmart also needed to understand the financial implications of a wage increase of this magnitude. Srivastava’s team had to run models to consider different scenarios for the wage increase. Batch processing was not fast enough using traditional tools. Srivastava was limited to doing costing at a store level. He had limited flexibility and his team had to make lots of manual changes. It was slowing them down.
Srivastava needed a fast solution to send individual communications for each associate. He had a compressed timeline and resource constraints. His team looked at doing mail merges, but that didn’t work with the volume of data. Leveraging the IT team would have taken a long time as they were busy working to ensure that systems were in place to implement the payroll change for nearly 5,000 stores and clubs. Srivastava had been using Alteryx for the last two years, mostly for data blending and cleansing. He knew that Alteryx was a powerful tool to bring in data from disparate sources and blend them together into a single view, but he had never used the Alteryx reporting feature. Srivastava did some research and found that he could use Alteryx to easily generate PDFs and send emails. He was able to build the workflow quickly in 30 minutes.
It took one hour for the workflow to run and generate all 5,000 PDFs — one for each store. Each PDF had 300-900 pages, one page for each associate in that store or club. Srivastava was pleased to see that the file sizes generated by Alteryx were reasonably small and easily manageable for email distribution. Srivastava says, “Surprisingly, with Alteryx, 99% of the PDFs were less than 1 MB.”
Srivastava was able to create another workflow to read in the PDFs from the folders and send the emails to each Walmart and Sam’s Club location. Creating the actual workflow was simple, and that ran for less than an hour and a half. While it was blending data, the workflow also generated the email addresses on the fly based on generic IDs for the store numbers. It created the email body with text and sent the 5,000 emails. Combined, these two workflows ran for two to three hours, accomplishing work that would have taken weeks or months to do manually. Using Alteryx, the team successfully created a form that was individualized based on each associate, packaged together by location, and delivered in a single, reasonably-sized PDF to each Walmart and Sam’s Club location to announce the U.S.-wide pay increase for 1.2 million associates.