Implementing a new point of sale system in your cafeterias may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right plan in place, you can keep your implementation on track to ensure a smooth rollout.
After implementing our POS solutions at thousands of schools over the years, our project coordinators have identified four key factors that contribute to a successful cafeteria POS implementation:
1) Assemble Your Team
One of the first and most important factors to a successful implementation is determining who needs to be involved and what their roles are. It’s essential to include the individuals who use the current POS system, as well as other key decision makers in your district.
Most implementations will need input from the following people:
Food Service Director: Your district's FSD and foodservice staff will, obviously, need to be the most involved in this process. This transition will make the biggest impact to their operation as they prepare for training staff and using the new system.
IT Director: Whether it’s the director or a representative from IT, you’ll need to get your school’s Technology department involved to help provide information on hardware specifications, network infrastructure, installation, and ongoing support.
Finance/Billing: As with any purchase your school makes, your Finance or Accounting departments will need to be aware (and likely involved) of this transition. Finance can help guide the other stakeholders on how the system will be paid for.
Principal or Superintendent: Having buy-in from your school or district leadership is critical. Keeping them informed on decisions and progress will ensure your implementation won’t be held up for reasons outside of your control.
Having representation from each of these departments will help streamline the decision-making process and ensure your implementation stays on track.
2) Define Your Decision-Making Process
Now that you have your team, you’ll want to establish how decisions will be made. Will decisions be made collectively as a group, or, will a designated team leader make the final call, based on input from all the key stakeholders?
Regardless of which approach is taken, it will be important that a record of each decision is kept. Knowing what and when decisions are made could prove critical down the line. Setting expectations up-front and keeping records of progress will help simplify the decision-making process throughout your implementation.
3) Establish A Strong Vendor Relationship
It’s important to build a relationship between the vendor and your district’s implementation team. To start, make sure the vendor has your team’s names, roles, and contact information. This way, when your vendor has a specific question, they’ll know who on your team should be contacted.
Another important part of your vendor relationship is communication. Work with your vendor to schedule important meetings to ensure both parties are aware of what is expected and when. For example, one of your first scheduled meetings might be to determine specific dates for when your district should go live with the new POS system.
In addition to your scheduled meetings, check in with the vendor on a weekly basis to make sure project milestones are met along the way.
4) Have a Training & Communication Plan
A new system means there’s new software to learn. Develop a training plan to ensure your department staff will be trained and ready for go-live. Work with your vendor to schedule online or in-person training for staff. Also, ask about any additional training materials that may be available for you, such as videos, guides, or manuals.
Once the implementation is nearing completion, it’s critical to notify faculty, parents, and students about the change. See if your vendor has any letter or email templates your program can leverage to get the word out. Use these communication channels to share when the POS system will be live at their school, how they can pay for meals online, or any other noteworthy details.
It’s important to remember that there is no cookie-cutter implementation process for all school district. Each implementation will look a little different depending on your district’s size, your vendor of choice, and the timing of your implementation. Using these considerations as guidelines for planning your transition to a new Point of Sale system can help ensure a successful implementation.