Data Intelligence

5 Best Practices for Implementing A Technology Roadmap

April 14, 2016 | By Guest Perspective

5 Best Practices for Implementing A Technology Roadmap

This guest post was written by Emily F. Porro

While most operators understand the long-term benefits of investing in technology including higher customer satisfaction, streamlined processes, greater business efficiency, and higher sales, some can find the prospect of investing and deployment overwhelming. We’re at the NAMA OneShow in Chicago, and today’s session, “Roadmap to Technology: Starting Out, Speeding Up, and Scalable Solutions” featured Dr. Michael Kasavana, NAMA Endowed Professor Emeritus as moderator, and three seasoned operators who have implemented successful technology roll-outs in order to gather their input on how best to implement a successful technology road-map.

Below are five takeaways from the panel:

1. Get Everyone On Board, Especially Your Drivers: According to presenter Bradlee Whitson, operations manager at K&R Vending in Bridgeton, NJ, securing buy-in across the entire organization before deployment is critical to success. “Everyone sticks together when it becomes challenging,” he noted, adding special attention and inclusion should be paid to route drivers. In a traditional vending company, drivers are responsible for a great number of decisions, from choosing and restocking product to evaluating the cleanliness of machines. According to Mr. Whitson, who saw a 15% sales lift immediately following the company’s deployment of cashless technologies on 100% of their machines, you don’t want new technologies to leave the drivers feeling displaced.

The sentiment was echoed by Rod Nester, president and CEO of Smith Vending Corporation, a Canteen franchise located in Clarinda, Iowa, who offered the advice, “Bring a positive spin, challenge drivers to buy in, and let them know that their input adds to the quality of the deployment. Not including drivers was the biggest mistake we made.” Mr. Nester, who attributes a 12% lift in sales to adoption of cashless payment technologies, went on to note that several drivers chose to leave the company once DEX came online and they no longer were responsible for making decisions on products going into machines.

2. Find A Supportive, Collaborative Technology Partner: “I cannot stress support enough,” noted Ryan Harrington, president at Royal Vending in Portland Illinois, who mentioned that their partner offered implementation support before and during integration, which included customized and tailored alerts and analytics. The partner was also highly responsive to feedback and even added features or made changes where possible. Mr. Harrington stated the company has doubled its revenue just by implementing new technology.

Mr. Whitson agreed saying, “It can be scary. You don’t know what you don’t know. A strong relationship with a technology provider is critical for understanding what to look at, best practices for roll-out and how to best use the systems on a daily basis.”

3. Start Small and Be Realistic: According to the presenters, not every deployment has to include every machine, or take place all at once. “Analyze where you want to be, but be realistic,” said Mr. Whitson. “Not every location is going to justify the monthly expense,” echoed Mr. Nester. “Start small in key locations and evaluate. We may not get higher than 75% cashless. Not every location is going to justify the expense and monthly cost. Start small in key locations and grow from there.”

4. Set Milestones and Share Successes: According to the presenters, identifying and recognizing key milestones during a technology roll-out will ensure everyone at the organization feels a sense of positive momentum. “Define your goals, develop teams, make clear directives,” stated Mr. Nester. “Share in the successes and victories of the organization,” included Mr. Whitson.

5. Consider the Cloud: Traditionally operators have managed their data and systems on physical servers, but according to Mr. Nester, operators should consider moving their technology to the cloud. “We’ve reduced our IT services by more than 50%, as well as diminished the turmoil we’d encounter as different offices using varying Internet speeds would try to access the server at the same time. There is a huge advantage to going to cloud deployment.”

Mr. Harrington summed up the benefits of technology with his presentation’s closing statement, “Benefits for implementing technology include greater customer satisfaction – everyone loves being able to pay with cash and cashless at the machines – less downtime and labor when you can consolidate routes. We use technology as part of our selling process, as it gains new accounts and helps us win new business.”

However, the presenters still had their eyes clearly fixed on the technology. “In the last 5, 7, and 10 years, the rate of change has been staggering,” remarked Mr. Witson. “We need to figure out next steps, and understand what technology will help us be ahead or at least on the curve.”

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Emily F. Porro is a writer and blogger focusing on people, products, services and technology driving global innovation across industries.

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