Catering software choices

Can hospitality management software ever be ‘one size fits all’?

Sure, of course it can. In the world of hospitality management, any procure-to-pay software company can predict the future of their markets and customers and come up with a single off-the-shelf purchasing solution.

Okay, not true. But it is an interesting question for software developers. With software largely based in the cloud and following some sort of agile development process (where releases come thick and fast) there is a definite advantage to having a single platform that is deployed to all customers.

One platform to support, one platform to release to, one platform to test and with thousands of users, hopefully a successful business.

Supply and demand management

But how to get it right? There are a few possibilities of how to supply this. It starts with understanding your whole market place, the customers and always the users and their needs. If you don’t have that understanding then it’s a difficult place to be. But let’s assume we do know that. Well then there are some choices;

  • Do you make all the processes generic and bland – able to everything that everyone wants, but only at a very high level?
  • Do you make the system massive and unwieldy where every variant is served, but with a cluttered screen of endless buttons, menus and forms?
  • What about the endlessly configurable option? The system can do everything anyone might want, but only if you spend huge amounts of time and money upfront configuring the system to do that?

None of those options are enviable, but it is often what comes as an output of software companies trying over time to do everything for everybody, and largely not pleasing anyone fully.

Is pick and mix the future of SaaS?

Technology has moved on today with the advent of different technology stacks for development and the use of microservices. It allows developers to build in new ways, rather than monolithic stacks of code but a set of interlinked services that can be turned on or off depending on the customer, their need and use of a system.

This must be the way to try and deliver something that fits all possibilities. It takes a leap, as this approach requires a system architecture to support it that many old systems won’t sustain but take that leap and we’re into the domain of having single solutions that can cater for a whole market, or even across multiple markets. Where users from a bar manager to the head office only access modular elements and interfaces based on their specific roles and needs, with minimal configuration.

So, problem solved then? Well no, not necessarily. Despite how good technology is and its flexibility to change and suit to deliver a single platform for everyone, all our customers are different. Yes, it’s possible to understand the broad catering and hospitality market. It’s possible to regularly visit commercial kitchens from high streets to country house hotels. However, it is impossible to react to the specific nuances of organisations that just do things a bit differently and need something tweaking just to fit them…and no one else.

Technology has moved on to allow software companies to better meet the needs of a whole market. But will we ever lose custom development? I’m not so sure.

Authored by a member of our Operations team.

Caternet has many years of working within the hospitality industry and providing real benefit to businesses. Get to know how we can help you with what we do.

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