We all knew that digital transformation and adopting more tech was in the future for hospitality and food industries. What we didn’t expect is that future would be now due to COVID-19. Modernization discussions seem to revolve around guest-facing tech like ghost kitchens, digital-only restaurants, and touchless visitor management in hospitality. But what about behind the scenes? What kind of modernization needs to take place for managing standards, quality, and safety before policies are implemented?
That’s where quality management software (QMS) comes in. It’s a progressive tool that helps you gather, organize, and analyze data, so you can make more informed decisions based on what’s happening now. But just adopting software without a plan isn’t the answer. Here are six ways to start modernizing your quality, safety, and standards management and how technology fits in.
- Move Toward Proactive Mindset Versus Reactive Habits
Although it’s cliché, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” catches the spirit of a proactive mindset. For different reasons — lack of budget, lack of headcount, turnover, etc. — it can become easy to react when issues come up rather than champion scenario planning. We’ll never be able to plan for everything but having a plan in place where everyone knows their role protects your brand, saves time and money, and maybe even saves lives.
A QMS can become an invaluable tool when planning and forecasting. Once you gather enough data into a single source of truth, you can set benchmarks, see past trends, and plan your future with data-based decisions.
- See Employees as an Extension of Your CQO
Your location employees are your first line of defense, so they should be treated as such. Giving proper training and then coaching employees can help them understand why specific rules are in place. This empowers employees to identify and act on the right thing to do for themselves — which is chief quality officer (or equivalent) behavior. Adding the practice of supporting employees when things go wrong, rather than punishing them, can reinforce buy-in. And when employees buy into your programs, you’ll see better results and less turnover.
- Add More Self-Assessments
The annual or bi-annual audits are an important part of quality and standards regulation. But the current climate demands more. Many of our clients — even before the pandemic — started supplementing these big, days-long audits with more frequent self-assessments that can be done in as little as a few minutes, depending on what is being assessed. So instead of relying on a single-point-in-time they’re getting a more continuous view of the health of locations and programs.
However, this means you’ll be collecting much more data than before, which makes it even more difficult to organize and analyze data manually with spreadsheets alone (see below). Again, this is where a QMS can be deeply effective in creating a single source of truth of data and documentation. Many also have built-in analytics tools, so you can quickly make data-based decisions based on trends and hot spots.
- Stop Relying on Spreadsheets (and Other Manual Tools)
No one will pry spreadsheets away from quality managers, but it’s clear that spreadsheets are not enough on their own anymore. The more data you collect, the more cumbersome spreadsheets become, and the more difficult it will be to find actionable insights.
Additionally, paper checklists and email blasts are hard to track and can easily become misfiled or otherwise lost. And there are several QMS options that include an auditing app that uploads completed forms — from quick checklists to corporate audits — directly into the platform. And if the federal government comes calling, “lost” documents and data will not fly.
Most QMS solutions are geared toward ingesting spreadsheets into their systems. Some will simply store your data and documents and make them searchable, but the better QMS platforms will also help you translate that data and display it in dashboards and reports that are specific to your business.
- Consolidate Multiple Programs into One Software Solution
The last thing you need is adding more and more tech until you don’t know what you have anymore. As a cost-saving and sanity-saving measure, be thoughtful in your tech purchases. Ask potential and current software vendors to detail all their solutions so you can determine if the software can solve more than one problem for you. And be sure to ask about integrations with other items in your tech stack, so you can get as much data and insights as possible into a single source of truth.
- Offset Costs with Vendor Requirement Changes
It is a huge ask for any quality team to invest in tech right now even though it’s clearly needed. COVID-19 gave you more work to do, but you have the same or fewer resources as before 2020. A few RizePoint clients have seen success in requiring vendors and suppliers to submit data and documentation via our software, and then charging vendors reasonable fees to use the software. It not only offsets costs, but it deepened communication with vendors and made it easier to request qualifying data and documents before they expire.
Based on COVID-19 alone, it is clear that modernization will not come slowly in phases as anticipated by the food and hospitality industry. It is happening now, and it is quickly becoming a competitive differentiator for those who can streamline and modernize their quality, safety, and standards management. Keeping your eye on specific goals and investments can make the transition less overwhelming and more helpful to your challenges now while helping you build a better future for your work and your brand.