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Food for Thought

New ideas and advice to help you improve the operation, turnover, and connectivity of your dining sites.

Mission Control: Assembling Your New Restaurant Technology Team

October 27 2016, by Olivia FitzGerald

Why successful projects rely on team effort that can add detail to the bigger picture

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Until 3D printing becomes good enough for you to make perfect copies of yourself, it’s likely that you’ll need to rely on a team of people to help you implement The Big Switch. The number of people in your team, their location and their specific responsibilities will differ from organisation to organisation, but the reasons for having a project team and their core responsibilities are universal for successful implementation of new technology in the restaurant industry.

Why a team makes everything easier

Even the simplest roll-out of an IT system is a large undertaking, and in most cases there’s just too much work for one person to take care of. You’re perfectly capable of liaising with the vendor, training staff, communicating the benefits to concerned employees and replacing the Wifi routers with ones offering more bandwidth, but there’s an opportunity cost to each of those tasks.

Let’s face it, you’re far too valuable to spend your time making sure the Wifi works properly.

By spreading the workload across multiple shoulders you’re not just making your life easier. You’re making your project more likely to succeed. When a technology in restaurants project has specific people in charge of specific, measurable, monitored tasks, the danger of anything important falling through the net is vastly reduced.

That’s not to say that creating a team will solve all your problems. If the team’s roles aren’t well defined, they aren’t given the necessary resources or they can’t do their existing jobs alongside their team roles in their normal working hours then that’s a recipe for disaster. But a well informed and well managed team is a powerful thing to have working on your behalf.

Roles that make the team work

Although we’ll describe a number of specific roles here, those roles don’t necessarily need to be filled by having a separate person for each one. In many organisations staffing is such that one person may need to wear multiple hats. That isn’t necessarily a problem, although of course you need to ensure that none of your team members are overloaded. It’s better to do one thing well than three things poorly.

The project leader

That’s probably you. The team leader oversees the entire project, and their role includes working with other team members to identify and address challenges, liaising with the IT vendor, escalating issues to board level where appropriate and monitoring the project progress. In many cases the team leader will also assume the mantle of project manager, but in larger organisations the two roles may be separate.

IT

IT has multiple roles here. It is responsible for preparing and migrating data from the existing systems to the new one, for managing user accounts and authentication, for establishing and monitoring system security and for additional tasks such as working with the IT vendor to implement the new platform with legacy systems.

IT will also need to look at the existing infrastructure to ensure that it remains fit for purpose: you wouldn’t be the first organisation to discover that ageing routers in existing premises weren’t up to the task of supporting multiple mobile devices.

Digital marketing

Depending on the complexity of your organisation your digital marketing team might be one person, or you might have a digital marketing strategist, a social media manager, a website/email/social media designer and a data analyst. The digital team would liaise with the team leader to identify the need for, assist with the specification of and test the implementation of the marketing tools the new platform provides.

If the move to a new system also involves existing customers having to create new online accounts, the marketing team would plan for this in order to ensure that customers don’t find themselves locked out on launch day.

Trainer

Once again, your training team might be one person or many, depending on the number of people you need to train, their training needs and their physical location. Many larger organisations prefer to run classroom-based sessions to deliver training to as many people as possible, but other firms find that on-site, person to person training may be more suitable for their particular needs. For large projects with extensive training requirements you may also require somebody to create the appropriate training materials, either from scratch or by repackaging existing materials provided by the IT platform provider.

Support staff

This is one that’s definitely worth checking with the platform provider: do their remote support staff work the same hours that your businesses do? While many day to day support issues can be resolved internally, either by more experienced employees or central IT departments, some issues will inevitably need to be escalated to more senior staff or to a third party provider.

This is where our old friend the Service Level Agreement (SLA) comes into play. If a third party will be providing key support for its platform, it’s crucial to have an SLA that details not just system uptime but support response times. Don’t expect the supplier to agree to set resolution times, as they’re subject to a wide range of variables, but set response times for specific kinds of issues shouldn’t be controversial.

Trust your gut on this one too: an SLA isn’t worth the paper or pixels it’s printed on if the vendor doesn’t have the competence to deliver it.

Points to remember:

  • You don’t necessarily need one person for each individual role in your team, but beware overloading employees. Better to do one thing well than several things badly.

  • Make sure you have a Service Level Agreement in place that covers response times for third-party support.

  • IT will need to assess existing infrastructure for suitability - even something as simple as Wi-Fi coverage in venues can be a problem.

  • Every part of the organisation affected by the new system needs to be involved - so don’t wall off IT from marketing and operations.

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Topics: Technology