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Introducing a PDA into a restaurant

A PDA (personal digital assistant) is a system that increases the overall productivity of an organization. A restaurant is just a place where the tool can be used. Introducing a PDA into a restaurant will affect the organization in a number of ways.

There are many (commercial) functions and many different PDAs, and a restaurant requires one that you use:

  • A simple catalog of products or services.
  • An order unit that can accept a customer’s order.
  • A communication function that delivers the order to the kitchen.
  • Billing information that summarizes the order details and sends them to the cashier.

The PDA must communicate with other systems or with other agents of the organization. First of all with the kitchen, but also with the bar. Both communications can only be achieved by establishing an interface. If both organizations also operate systems, these interfaces will need to integrate both the PDA and the other system. Otherwise, the interface can be a simple user interface; as a printer that can print the customer’s order.

The ticket will be used as a work order and upon completion of the kitchen order for this customer, the agent (the waiter) will be informed. In this case, the interface can be as simple as an OK sign marked with a pen on the printed order.

In the same way, the bar will close the drinks that have been “delivered” to the bar and distributed by the waiters. A simple interface on paper will suffice here.

The data in the system will change from “order” to “transaction” once the orders have been delivered. Once customers have finished their consumption, the transactions from their table and served by the waiter will be summarized and sent to the cashier. This is where the last client function is processed.

The impact of the PDA in this organization mainly translates into:

  • Interfaces. First of all, the interface between the customer and the waiter entering the data, but also the interface between the PDA and the kitchen, bar and cashier. It would be advisable to start with the simplest interface, as interfaces add a lot of complexity to business. Printing is a simple and efficient interface.
  • Information management: prices, product details and catalogs need to be updated daily.
  • Resource management. Not all bartenders will like this type of work, where the younger generations will like this new gadget. Implement technology without pressure, starting with whoever wants. When hiring new employees, the PDA experience could be an added benefit (or selection criterion).
  • Relationship with the client. Some customers will be offended, especially when there is a problem and the waiter gets lost with the tool. These incidents must be managed with precision: “what to do when the technology fails?”

This last aspect is one that seems minor but will bring the biggest change in the end. The style of your company / organization. Technology could transform your business, in this case, from a traditional restaurant to a new modern establishment.

Most of the other elements of change are fairly straightforward: interfaces, information management, resource management. The style element is less straightforward.

© 2007 Hans Bool

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