Why food service industries should implement new systems quickly – and six top tips for doing it

Ian Hampson - Chief Technical Officer
21st April 2022

The pandemic brought two contradictory pressures to bear on the food service industry. Firstly, ongoing uncertainty in the hospitality sector meant many businesses had to put plans on hold. Yet at the same time, the pandemic accelerated the drive to digitisation, as businesses shook up their existing technology to find new ways to service customers.

Coming out of the pandemic, you now have a unique opportunity to de-mothball those plans and tie up the loose ends of digitisation. Moving to an ERP software solution can help to optimise the customer experience, while driving efficiency into the business too. That’s welcome news at any time, but particularly now we’re seeing such rising costs.

To take full advantage, you need to make any switch to new software as speedy and efficient as possible. By staying nimble and agile, you can make sure you don’t get bogged down in the detail, but can hit the ground running as soon as possible.

At CSD, we’ve been helping businesses move speedily and effectively for quite some time now, so here are some tips we’ve learned along the way.

Tip #1: be sure about what you’re trying to achieve

Perhaps you’re looking to introduce operational efficiencies, greater accuracy or reductions in cost. Keep focused on that end objective, and think about your must-have rather than your nice-to-haves.

Be realistic about what you can achieve in a short space of time, rather than getting carried away. It’s all about prioritising the vulnerable parts of the business – in other words, those key factors that if you don’t get right, then the competition will.

Tip #2: put a plan in place

All too often in the food industry you can find yourself fighting fires. It’s unavoidable, but don’t let the day-to-day stop you from the planning for tomorrow. Look for a provider who will help you plan every single step in the process, from day one to going live.

And map out what your users do in their current day-to-day working lives. So, if they produce a report at the end of every working day, make sure that they still have the ability to do that with your new system.

Tip #3: tidy up that data

Nobody likes doing it, and there are a million and one other things to focus on, but if your data is scrappy then you might encounter glitches when you move to a new system. Data is the bedrock of a successful implementation, so if it’s not correct or bits are missing then the move won’t go well.

There are two main tasks at hand. Data cleansing, which means getting rid of all the data you no longer need, such as obsolete stock or customers you no longer deal with. And data validation, which means making sure every entry is correct.

Legacy ERP systems may have enabled users to do things like input phone numbers instead of postcodes or add notes or codes to particular customer names, but any impurity like that will trip up the system as you switch over. And it will only become apparent once you’ve moved everything across, so make sure to tidy it all up before the crunch date.

Tip #4: set a firm date to go live, and stick to it

Identify how much you can achieve by a specific time, then focus on that. Don’t be tempted to move the date further and further into the future to accommodate more and more.

Having a firm date that’s set in stone gives everyone focus and sets expectations. Work backwards from the live date to plan everything in and make sure you can achieve everything in the timeframe.

One further thought. The food industry can be very seasonal, of course, so aim for a date where there’s a trough rather than a peak, and when any potential impact will be minimal.

Tip #5: get everyone up to speed with the new system

Again, look for a provider who can offer training either at your workplace or remotely. It’s important to train everyone who might ever use the new system, too. So don’t forget the warehouse or night-shift staff! Every single person who might come into contact with your new platform needs to know the basics at the very least.

Tip #6: lead from the top down

By having an advocate for change from the Board or at a senior level, you can get the whole team behind the transformation.

One particularly effective way to drive change is by appointing subject matter experts across the business, too. Each of them can champion a particular aspect of the change, for instance, the supply chain, telesales or warehouse procedures.

Your subject matter experts then become your focal points of contact for their particular area of expertise. They can focus on their specialism to make sure change happens, and disseminate training and support across the rest of your team.

Here at CSD, we have helped hundreds of businesses make the switch to a new ERP software solution, quickly, painlessly and successfully. If you’d like to know more about Qnetex, our ERP solution, and how we can help you see the benefits in next to no time, email me at peter@csd-qnetex.com