Safilo is an Italian company that designs, produces and distributes prescription frames, sunglasses, sports eyewear, ski goggles and helmets, and cycling helmets under its own five house brands and over 20 licensed brands, including Dior, Fendi, Céline, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and Tommy Hilfiger. The business is listed on the Italian stock exchange, owns and operates seven plants and four distribution centres internationally, and employs more than 8,000 people around the world. As part of its 2020 strategic plan, the business identified an opportunity to gain significant competitive advantage and, in March 2015, Safilo called in Four Points Consulting to help deliver part of this change.

The Goal

Historically, Safilo has operated with a strong regional bias. This model increasingly affected internal effectiveness and productivity, and also the ability to support its licensed brands more consistently across the world. The Executive team made a decision to develop a global platform in which to design, build and release products to market, thus serving their fashion house clients even better. It was hoped this could be achieved in time for the collections being released in 18 months.

This would require:

  • Establishing a common Global collection release calendar.
  • Simplifying and standardising the Product Development and collection release schedules for each of its licensed brands, and
  • Advancing Product Development.

Safilo established a cross-functional project team with a CEO-led steering team in order to deliver on this strategic priority.

“Four points delivered a high level of commitment, sharing Safilo company values from the very first day. They supported Safilo’s team in a key corporate project, bringing their tremendous value in project management and keeping a smile also through the most steep trails of our journey. Working with them has been a true pleasure and a learning experience”.
Vladimiro Baldin, Chief Product Design & Creation Officer

The Achievements

We guided key project leaders through comprehensive business process mapping, analysis and project management actions to create a strong foundation on which the project could be achieved in the short timeframe required to impact the up coming season.

  • Comprehensive end-to-end mapping of product development and business processes.
  • Identification of 61 process interdependencies.
  • Evaluated viable ways of achieving project goals using a high-level impact analysis.
  • Identified of major constraint/bottlenecks jeopardising the achievement of project goals, and delayed the timescale to a new achievable project goal to ensure success.
  • Trained staff across the key project work streams in effective techniques in project management, and supported project teams to develop credible plans for delivery as well as working in a way that facilitated ownership in the design and implementation of the desired change across all areas.

The Journey

The Four Points team recognised that, in several respects, Safilo Group’s strategic project was at a good starting point: having a clear strategic objective and enjoying executive-level support.

However, although there was a great deal of experience in the business in terms of operational expertise, the lack of experience in the organisation of successfully delivering a major cross-functional, strategic project of this kind represented a major challenge. The first task was to help the business to understand its processes and determine whether the project goals and timescales were realistic and rooted in the operational reality. We worked to understand the real scope of the project, leading to:

  • Comprehensive end-to-end mapping Safilo’s business and product development processes.
  • A clear overview of inter-dependencies between development steps and dependencies on external factors (e.g. schedules of fashion houses).
  • Identification of 61 interdependencies over the product development timescale.

As a result of the process mapping, it quickly became apparent that Safilo’s original objective of advancing product release for the target collections, was neither realistic nor achievable. The creation of a realistic and achievable delivery date, firmly rooted in operational realities, is essential to avoid the misdirection of funds and resources and to avoid a ‘failure’ which could jeopardise future initiatives.

  • A high-level impact analysis enabled the Safilo project team to assess the viability of several different approaches to achieving the goal.
  • Identification of the constraint (or ‘bottleneck’) which was the greatest threat to the success of the project and its two dependent processes.
  • The complex network of interdependencies, and the available strategies for exploiting, subordinating and elevating the system’s constraint, led Four Points to recommend a staged approach to delivery across several new collections.

Although this decision was at odds with commercial pressures, it was necessary because continuing with the existing schedule represented too much risk. Four Points helped the business to understand what would be a credible timescale.

We then supported the steering group and each of the eight key project work streams – briefing, design, engineering and p-sample production, commercial integration, global fittings, production integration, distribution integration, fast track – to develop a realistic project plan in which everyone could feel confident.

  • Engaged with right people in the business (confidentially) to define challenges.
  • Guided project teams in each of the eight key work streams through the process of agreeing specific objectives and strategies for the project.
  • Worked with teams individually to determine what should be in and out of scope, while remaining conscious of the dependencies between steps.
  • Selected appropriate tools and methodologies that fit the existing business culture and could support the project teams without being rejected because they are ‘so new’.
  • Supported each work stream with the tools and training needed – from governance to designing the area and project.
  • Ensured commitment throughout the business in the validity of the approach.

The project teams were guided through the process so that they could draw on their operational expertise and agree realistic goals and plans, and the sense of ‘buy-in’ throughout the business is very high.

Next Steps

The Four Points team brought a healthy dose of clarity and realism to Safilo Group’s project. This clarity – in information and approach – enabled the business to make the right decisions about project priorities so that the whole group felt confident it could commit to the strategic project.

Confidence has been instilled throughout the business that the achievement can be made and everyone knows how to achieve it: Safilo Group is now confident in its plan, is confident it can deliver, and has the tools to achieve it.

As planned, the next season’s collection was run using the new global product design & development approach, thus enabling Safilo to go to market with the new collection ahead of the competition for the very first time.