Prior to starting The Digital CFO, I was the Financial Controller for an iconic winery on the Mornington Peninsula. Over time the business expanded and the information systems of the business needed to evolve to accommodate the changes.
Finding one integrated system that did everything we needed, was basically impossible. One system would perform, perhaps 80% of what was needed but it didn’t achieve all of our expectations. There was also problems in finding a system that matched front of house requirements with back office accounting needs. Not to mention how it fit with all the other requirements.
Obviously, moving to a digitally integrated business system was the right thing to do but it was time consuming, stressful and needed a lot of buy in from all the interested parties. Of which there was a lot. Pleasing all of those groups was really hard, everyone was always busy and didn’t always accept change.
Sales teams are adept at selling you a solution but when it comes to implementation, it will always fall back on the business. I am going to provide my top 5 tips from the business perspective of what you need to think about before you start your digital transformation with a point of sale.
1. Clearly map out all of the interrelated systems.
What do I mean? Let’s use a restaurant for an example. The Point of Sale is the hub of all the activity. However it is more than just taking an order. Every sale has a payment, everyone payment forms a batch, the batch is deposited into the bank and needs to be reconciled.
The sale needs to get into the accounting system.
Every sale of wine is going to create an inventory transaction.
A sale that is paid by a voucher is going to impact your deposits prepaid balance sheet account.
What about from a customer database perspective? Does your POS database integrate with your webstore? Can your web sales go through your POS? How do you know if a customer has made a web purchase or a bricks and mortar purchase?
What about your bookings and reservations system? Do you take prepaid deposits? How do they pay? How does that information get into the accounting system.
Then there are the payment gateways – apple pay, EFTPOS, Stripe, PayPal how do they connect to your accounting systems? How do you reconcile them? How do you handle the credit card fees? What merchant do you use?
A good way is to literally write down on a piece of paper everything that you do that involves a computer system and link them up. Once you have it down on paper you can see the whole system.
2. Involve the main stakeholders.
This potentially creates some issues as we all have an opinion! However as a rule you need to include;
- Finance Manager
- Marketing / Web Manager
- Restaurant Manager
- Key Front of House staff member
- Receptionist / office manager / reservations staff member
A Key front of house member is essential. They are the nuts and bolts! They will have insight on what they need for what they do. They are also the person that can help get the rest of the team on board.
3. Research, research, research.
Once you have determined your needs, you need to work out what system works best. Are you inventory heavy? Are you a fine dining restaurant? Do you do a lot of complimentary orders? How do you track waste? How do build orders? What are the reports like? If you discount an item does it apply to the total order or to the line item (important for inventory). Does the end of day sales include all the discounts?
Speak to competitors you have a relationship with, get the sales people to come on site or offer a really special virtual experience. Ask them for references of integrations they have done well.
Don’t just choose one that has the marketing spell and don’t trust them when they say it integrates but is in testing mode……
4. What is the support like?
We operate in a 24/7 environment. For many businesses they are at peak on weekends. When do you think the system will go down? Most likely 1pm in the middle of service with 100 covers.
You need to make sure the support they offer meets your business needs. If the support is Monday – Friday 9-5pm it is not going to work for a hospitality business. If the support is only via an email link and you need an answer ASAP you really need to think about if that works for you.
Do they come onsite to implement or is it a virtual solution? What is the training like?
What happens if the internet fails? Can your system still work?
5. Local v International
Australia, and I will include New Zealand, have some great products on the market. The advantage of a local product is that it deals with your currencies, your tax rules (GST, WET, Excise can play havoc in your POS – Accounting integration) and the support is usually local as well. You also have the ability to talk to the developers directly and the market being domestic means you can have potential input into the product. If you are using a Canadian product, the chances are they aren’t going to modify the system for your needs because why would they?
The most important thing to remember is – if you don’t feel confident or qualified to do this – invest in the right people that can. If you are a service or product based business your point of sale is incredibly important. It is a goldmine of information for decision making. How it talks to other systems is essential. It is an expensive mistake to keep changing things around. If you don’t know how to set it up then appoint someone that can. You will save yourself in the long run.