Why You Should Upgrade Your Restaurant Software to the Latest Technology
Understanding why you should upgrade to the latest restaurant technology software is a puzzle for many owners and operators. Especially if your operation sings as is, it’s understandable that updates may seem superfluous. Technological evolution already exceeds Moore’s Law, the principle that has accurately plotted out more than a half century’s worth of innovation.
For the layman, think of your smart-phone: without consistent innovation, you wouldn’t have access to many of the features you currently use. Because of that same speed of change, if you fail to update regularly, technology will eventually outpace your ability to keep up. Staying up-to-date removes those barriers through improvements that are much more manageable in smaller increments.
Does QSR Automations require software upgrades, or are they elective?
It depends on the product that you’re using. If you think of it in terms of the core ConnectSmart Kitchen or ConnectSmart Host (formerly DineTime) server product, it’s a mix between on-premises software and cloud software. That’s by design so that we’ve got a redundancy aspect built-in, in case you lose your connection to the Internet, all the in-store software stays running.
How often do QSR Automations products require software updates?
We control the pace of our enterprise services and upgrades. Every week we’re constantly upgrading stuff behind the scenes, in the cloud, that’s easy and for customers to use. It’s all backward compatible, too. It doesn’t really matter what version you’re on in-store. The customer controls the pace at which they upgrade those pieces. We might release a new version every month or every couple months of Connect Smart Kitchen or ConnectSmart Host server, but it’s up to the customer as far as when they want to upgrade that.
As long as you’re on our SaaS model or you’re paying software maintenance on our old license model, you’re entitled to upgrade as often as you want for free.
Who in the restaurant installs the updates? Is it typically a time-consuming process?
Some customers have us update as a professional services opportunity. There’s a product code on our pricing guides that they can pay for us to do the remote installation. Most of them will do it themselves because it’s pretty easy. It’s just like installing any other software in Windows. Also, we support silent installations. You basically build a little script in the background that runs a command update, to run all these commands behind the scenes, so that just does it kind of unattended.
When is the best time to upgrade your software in terms of working hours?
You’d always do it, either after the restaurant closes or before the restaurant opens in the morning, giving yourself enough time. In case something goes wrong. It’s very quick. To actually run the update, you’re talking less than five minutes.
What is the most common type of upgrade?
Usually, it’s either an enhancement that they need or have an interest in, a defect fix, or platform support. Most often it’s feature functionality that drives it. In recent years, the big push on that ConnectSmart Kitchen side, we didn’t have the enterprise-connected solution several years back on versions that a lot of our customers are on. So, if they want the ability to have all their speed of service data in the portal and be able to report on it or have the SMS go out to let guests know their food is ready — basically anything that requires an enterprise connection. That’s been a driver for a lot of our customer base to at least get on a version that supports that. But we’ve also added in-store features along the way.
Sometimes we take a request from a customer to make the software perform a specific feature or satisfy a certain function. We’ll work towards that and then they’ll have a build that we release that has that feature. Everybody shares the same build and version. That’s the beauty of our product and why they’ve become so robust: they’re built on all these great ideas from all these different restaurant chains throughout the industry!
Where do upgrades occur? Do they have to be done on location at the restaurant, or can that happen anywhere?
From a deployment standpoint, we see everything. Some restaurants will update manually, or we’ll distribute an installation file at their location. Some will script it all silently. They’ll download it to all thousand sites overnight and a silent script that executes the upgrade behind the scenes. So there’s no touching. And then the next morning, you’re on the new version.
Why should restaurants prioritize software upgrades? Is it potentially a hazard to your older hardware?
Enhancements and defects are usually the drivers to upgrade. For example, maybe a restaurant implements a new operational workflow or they change their point-of-sale or they change something about the way that they operate. It may expose a bug in the version that they were on. Sometimes we’ve already fixed that bug and that’s already been addressed in this version. Either way, we wouldn’t fix that in an older version. We’re not going to go back into an older version and give them a special release that just fixes that. They need to upgrade to the current features and functionalities.
If you haven’t upgraded in five years, you’ve got five years worth of changes to now test and you might have to reconfigure some things; there’s just more work than if you were to stay current.
Is it expensive?
No. If you’re on a SaaS plan, you can upgrade as often as you want. If you’re on a software maintenance plan, if you bought the software license up front, then you pay 20 percent of that cost per year to upgrade as often as you want. If you don’t have those, if you just purchased a license and you don’t have software maintenance, then you’re not allowed to upgrade without repurchasing the software or re-upping your maintenance again. We try to keep people on the plans that allow them to upgrade as often as they want, so the upgrades become free. The true cost to upgrade is resource costs like the implementation of it. If you put the effort in up front to figure your upgrade process out, then it’s repeatable moving forward.
There are a lot of reasons why you should upgrade to the latest restaurant technology software, from staying current on the features that can enhance your operations, to saving on implementation time later down the line. With a little advanced effort, you can streamline and potentially automate these routine maintenance issues, allowing your restaurant operation to focus on what matters the most, leaving your guests happy and hungry for seconds.
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About the Author
Brian leads the Implementation, Project Management, Training, and Support Services groups, guiding customers to get the most out of QSR products. He has dual degrees in Information Systems and Operations Management and is a big baseball fan—he’s visited most of the Major League Baseball parks and loves spending summer evenings at Louisville Bats games with his family.