Tips for restaurant software migration

  • May 17, 2022  |  John Jones  |  7 min read

At some point in the life of a restaurant, pub, bar or café, its owners will want to change its restaurant management software. The reasons could be many, from wanting better functionality to better value and no unfair commission charges. 

With a great selection of products on the market, migrating to a new system should be a breeze but it is always worth avoiding an ad-hoc, on-the-fly approach if problems further down the line are to be avoided. 

In this short blog, we provide some guidance for restaurateurs who have decided to throw out the old and bring in something new.

Before we begin…

Before we get on to the practicalities of moving software, it is worth pausing for a moment to reiterate that the choice of replacement software should form a huge part of the due diligence process. It is very important to make sure that the procurement process itself has been robust so that the incoming product is right for the business concerned. 

There's little point in opting for an easy-to-implement system if that system does not have the full functionality needed, for example. Likewise, opting for a full-function system which requires a team of scientists to get it up and running will only cause frustration to busy restaurateurs when they'd rather be serving customers and making money.

Restaurateurs need to choose carefully before even considering moving to a new system, and may find this previous blog helpful in understanding the options out there.

Suppliers

A great relationship with the incoming supplier is essential from the outset, because it will help “oil the wheels” for the migration as a whole. Restaurateurs would be well advised to have a really good chat with the supplier beforehand and get a feel for the extent to which they will be hands-on and helpful. Credible suppliers will have really excellent support teams which are not only knowledgeable, but accessible too (your new provider does have telephone support, right?).

Software suppliers will have been through this process before, so will know what you're going to need from the get-go and provide resources to assist, such as templates for how your existing system's data should be collated ready for the transfer. They will be a mine of information and should revel in helping – they're getting your business, after all.

On the subject of suppliers, the same goes for the outgoing one. A good relationship with them will also be of great benefit and most will understand why you have chosen to go down a different route when it comes to your technology. They should also want to leave the door open for you in case you wish to return, although sadly there are many companies out there who will make life difficult for restaurateurs on account of sour grapes. 

We've heard tales of outgoing vendors threatening legal action for breach of contract (better to have deployed a no-contract system to start with!) and generally doing whatever they can to change restaurateurs' minds. If that happens, reminding them what you've contributed to their coffers over the years and referencing them to the transparency of the online review you might leave will usually bring them into line.

Form a plan

Modern software shouldn't need an epic plan to implement, but it is certainly worth thinking through the process beforehand in much the same way as when bringing in anything new, from people to kitchen equipment.

Resources

People. Who will do what? Will there be a project team or a project champion? What expertise is there in house you can tap into?

Time. Be realistic about what can be achieved, and when you need the system up and running. Set a schedule.

Technical. Most modern software is designed to work with a modern technical infrastructure, within reason. Restaurants need to ensure that their new software can run on the in-house hardware, and things like the business's WI-FI is robust. 

Similarly, this is a good time to check networks and security. Trying to add new software to PCs, laptops and mobiles with out of date operating systems really isn't going to end well.

Map it out

This might sound like overkill, but spending a little time mapping out processes likely to be affected by the implementation or indeed the software itself can save a whole load of heartache later. This doesn't need to be a big deal – just taking some quiet time to consider what will happen to x process if we do y is enough to spot any less obvious outcomes, pinch points or bottlenecks. 

Think about any reliance which may have been formed on the way the outgoing system does things, and how that may need to change; look at the interplay between other systems, too (for example, you really don't want your POS system falling over because someone forgot to connect it to the incoming system).

Once the operations are mapped out and any concerns identified, it is a great time to get back in touch with the new vendor and get their advice. The point here is to plan carefully and make the whole project collaborative.

Implementation

When?

So, you've confirmed that the new system will be great, you've got a plan in place and the people around you to deliver it. Your hardware is all up to date, WI-FI sorted and you've considered all eventualities. Time to press the “go” button? 

Well, before you do, spend some time thinking about when is the right time to do so. Available resources will to some extent dictate this, as will trading patterns, but it goes without saying that the grand switch-on should be at at time when the business is on tickover, with less chance of upsetting service should something go wrong. It rarely does, but overnight is often a good time.

Have a contingency plan

Really there is very little to go wrong if restaurants have chosen reliable, modern and web-based software backed up by a great support team. It really should be plug & play, but let's be realistic – hiccups do sometimes occur. Having a back-up plan will help greatly, and could be used to cover minor irritations to full system roll-back (don't switch off the outgoing system until you're satisfied that the new one is embedded perfectly).

Get the message out

Internal and external communications will help across a number of areas if the migration is to go smoothly. If the restaurant team don't know about the new system, or haven't had the time to play with it beforehand, then even the smoothest of technical implementations will be for nothing on day one. There should be no surprises - everyone should be ready to go when the new software comes on stream for the first time.

Likewise, it is always worth telling customers about the imminent arrival of the new system beforehand. Doing so is a great way to show that your restaurant is progressive and forward-thinking, always providing the best supportive booking and dining experience for them. That way they will also understand any initial glitches, should you encounter them and be honest on your website or social media feeds.

If the worst really does happen, it is extremely helpful to have some pre-considered communications ready to go. These can be posted on social media and will satisfy customers' anxieties while you sort the issue, leaving customers to assured that you're “on it”.

Review

You've successfully brought in a new restaurant management system which does everything you need. Congratulations! It really wasn't that difficult and in truth you probably didn't need to be quite so regimented in your planning. You're probably wondering what all the fuss was about and you'd be right! So is that it?

Well, nearly. Enjoy your new system and the benefits it is already having over the previous one, but do monitor and review it at least for the first few days. Look for any errors and listen to what staff and customers are saying about their recent experiences. The chances are it will all be fine, but this is where that great relationship with the supplier comes in – give them feedback and expect them to continually improve.

Wrapping Up

If we were writing a manual on software migration and implementation, it might look loosely like the above. But the truth is, the points made here are meant as “brain ticklers” - that is, just things to consider before jumping in. In reality, the best systems will negate the need for much of this planning and restaurateurs' experience of moving be plug & play.

Try favouritetable free for 30 days. We know you won't be disappointed

Favouritetable is restaurant reservation and management software which runs on your web browser, so there's no software to download. It is so simple to implement that we even offer our Easy Switch Guarantee! And our UK-based telephone support team - rated five star on Captera - is always on hand before, during and after you join us

To discuss switching to Favouritetable and find out why favouritetable is the best value full-feature restaurant management system on the market, call us today on

033 0124 4785

 

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