The Computer in the Restaurant
(In partial fulfillment of MIS Internal Assessment requirements)
Asia Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi
Traditionally, the business of a restaurant like Dailey’s involves a kitchen where the dishes are prepared and other supporting functions like washing the dishes is also carried out, an eating area where the attendants, i.e. the waiters and waitresses, attend to the customers. The customers hail an attendant, place their orders with him or her, he/ she notes it down and then goes back to the kitchen to inform them about the order, the kitchen then checks if that item is available, if it is, the plates are loaded and sent to the respective table. Once the customer finishes his or her meal, they again ask for the check, the bill is prepared at the counter after tallying the order with the kitchen, printed or written, as may be the case. It is then sent to the customer who pays it and leaves, usually leaving his copy of the bill behind (!). At the end of the day, the manager then sums up the collections of the day, and calculates the profits etc. to help him draw up the accounts. He then analyzes this information to help him take relevant decisions
This system suffers from a number of problems, which contribute in reducing the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. For example,
Since the waiter/ waitress notes down the order by hand, and this handwritten note is examined by the kitchen, there is always a chance of an order being misinterpreted because of the handwriting not being clear or legible. If the kitchen runs out of a food item, the attendant does not know about it, so he/ she takes an order and comes to the kitchen, gives the order to the staff as usual; only at the point where order preparation begins, do the staff realize that they can’t do it. This results in considerable wastage of time. Since information is available to the management when all the sales information is logged in and has been adequately analyzed, which is usually a time consuming process, therefore management is never up to date about matters and hence cannot take highly effective decisions which are relevant to that particular moment in the restaurant’s life-cycle. Management is also never able to identify deficiencies in time, this causes a fair bit of damage to the restaurant until the problem has been identified and tackled.
In Dailey’s Restaurant, the installation of a minicomputer based information system has helped solve the above mentioned problems and improve the process efficiencies, thus positively affecting the bottom-line. It is important to note that Dailey’s waiters and waitresses were involved in the selection and design of this system, and all potential users were asked to give their ideas and an impression regarding the various systems available before any one was chosen. Through this exercise, Dailey’s management ensured that there would be minimum resistance to the introduction of the system from the waiters and waitresses, who were most prone to mistrust of a new system, much in the way people are suspicious of a new boss, or even a new co-worker!
They have introduced computers at several key points in the process, thus reducing the time lag and the chance of any mistake taking place to just about zero. Order taking, for example, has changed drastically. Waiters now, after taking the order, just feed it into an online terminal in the eating area. The customer’s meal check is also automatically generated, thus eliminating the three copy guest check as well as any problems caused by the waiter’s handwriting.
If the kitchen runs out of a food item, it is prominently displayed on the terminal; hence the waiter will be able to inform the unavailability to the customer, so that the order can be changed before it reaches the kitchen. This results in quicker, better service and thus, a...
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