On-site hospitality and foodservice management company Delaware North Cos. said that it has simplified its information technology and training efforts tied to workforce management and is starting to generate more actionable data with the with the help of a cloud enterprise computing platform.
Representatives of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North shared that information during the recent Nation’s Restaurant News and Restaurant Hospitality webinar, “Cloud Solutions for Restaurant Workforce Management,” which was sponsored by Kronos.
The Delaware North representatives who participated in the webinar were William “Bill” Clingan, director of enterprise architecture; Yvette Vincent, director of information systems; and Warren Connell, manager of human resources. Also participating were Madeline Laurano, research director for talent acquisition solutions at business research house and consultancy Aberdeen Group, and Kronos representatives Andrew Manos, director of managed services, and Andrew Van Ermen, cloud services consultant.
In a conventional IT environment, program software and data are run and stored on computers maintained at each location, such as individual restaurants in a chain. Some companies with multiple locations pull unit-level data to headquarters for analysis and reporting purposes.
In a cloud-based IT environment, applications software is centrally hosted on a remote computer that field users access across the Internet or a private wide-area network using Web browsers or thin-client programs. The data generated by such cloud applications can be stored in a central and remote location.
Advocates of cloud computing say its advantages are obvious, in terms of eliminating the need to install, maintain and update software on multiple individual computers and by funneling field level data to a central storage area, where it might be more easily accessed for actionable tidbits and reporting and backed up. However, some computer users are wary of remotely hosting software and data, contending that a problem at the site or in the network connections could disrupt business.
By moving to a centrally hosted suite of Kronos human resources management applications, Delaware North's Connel said the company has a “much better picture of what our [workplace rules] compliance attitude looks like at any given time” across its hundreds of U.S. locations with about 40,000 hourly employees and several dozen collective bargaining agreements.
“We have centralized administration of payroll and work rules. Previously, this was done on a decentralized basis at the unit level, so we pulled that all back to the corporate office,” he said. “Support has been centralized and this has been a huge savings for us.”
Among the benefits Connell said Delaware North has achieved using an enterprise cloud platform:
• The company has reduced the number of workforce management systems training programs from six to three.
• Users previously connected with the company’s workforce management systems across 20 different interfaces, but now deal with only six.
• The centrally-hosted system means that the company's IT team has a single set of software updates to perform instead of going out to 60 or 70 units and putting on patches and updates.
Delaware North’s Vincent explained that the company moved to a cloud-based enterprise workforce management system to better ensure workforce rules compliance and make it easier to ramp up or down support for locations and types of businesses. The cost savings achieved were a “side benefit,” she said.
Through the better data integration standards and data aggregation supported by the enterprise cloud technology, Vincent said, Delaware North is able to better understand employee efficiency and customer service. She added that the company is “able to connect any of our [information] systems to our time-keeping data for a myriad of beneficial company reports.”
Vincent also noted that by using centrally hosted software, Delaware North is able to eliminate the use of on-site computer server clusters or data rooms and “return that space back to the business for hospitality and productive uses.”
The Delaware North representatives said they've had no trouble with the security of the cloud-based system versus on-site technology. They stressed that end users, such as restaurant companies, will get the level of reliability and security they negotiate into service-level agreements with the software and cloud services providers.
Related to having access to centrally hosted data from locations across a company, Delaware North’s Connell remarked, “It removes excuses” and “you can no longer say, ‘I can’t get access to that data because it is at the unit level.’” Consequently, he said, “We’re shoring up our audits and compliance initiatives and putting out standard business reports.”
Asked if better data aggregation and access can mean higher sales or better efficiency, Delaware North’s Vincent replied, “It does, because some of the data aggregated across multiple systems really allows you to ask, 'Where are we performing efficiently and can we provide better customer service?'"