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Introduction of a PDA in a Restaurant

A PDA — personal digital assistant — is a system that makes it possible to increase to overall productivity of an organization. A restaurant is only one place where the tool could be used. The introduction of a PDA in a restaurant will impact the organization in various ways.

There are many (business) functions and many different PDA’s, and a restaurant requires one that uses:

  • A simple product or service catalog
  • An order unit that is able to accept the order of a client
  • A communicating function that delivers the order to the kitchen
  • Billing information that summarizes the order details and send these to the cashier

The PDA will have to communicate with other systems or with other agents in the organization. In the first place with the kitchen, but also with the bar. Both communications can only be achieved by establishing an interface. If both organizations also operate with systems these interfaces will have to integrate both the PDA and the other system. Otherwise the interface may be a simple user-interface; like a printer that is able to print the order from the client.

The ticket will be used as a work order and after the kitchen order is finished for this client the agent (the waiter) will be informed. In this case the interface can be as simple a OK-sign marked with a pen on the printed order.

In the same way the bar will sign-off drinks that has been “delivered” at the bar and distributed by the waiters. A simple paper interface will be sufficient here.

The data in the system will change from “order” to “transaction” once the orders have been delivered. Once the clients 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 results mainly in:

  • Interfaces. First of all the interface between the client and the waiter entering the data, but also the interface between the PDA and the kitchen, bar and cashier. Starting with the most simple interface would be recommendable as interfaces add much complexity in business. Printing is a simple and effective interface.
  • Information management: prices, product details and catalogs need to be updated on a daily bases.
  • Resource management. Not all waiters will like this type of work, where the younger generation will fancy this new gadget. Implement the technology without pressure, starting with who wants. When hiring new employees, PDA experience could be an extra benefit (or selection criteria).
  • Relation with the client. Some clients will be offended, especially when there is a problem and the waiter is lost with the tool. Such incidents should be managed accurately: “what to do when the technology fails?”

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

Most other elements in the change are quite straightforward, interfaces, information management, resource management. The style element is less straightforward.

© 2007 Hans Bool

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