Once you have the model complete, the systematic use includes imports of menu item counts from the POS system. In addition, you'll want to export purchase orders to your suppliers. Many suppliers allow imports from their order guide (with current price data), and ad hoc purchase orders (entered directly online).
Choose a software system with tight integration to your POS system and vendor ordering systems. In addition, many people use Excel spreadsheets to handle inventory, butcher yields, competitive bids, menu analysis and order guides. Excel integration is a major plus for any cost control software.
I have two deal breakers when selecting the best solution. The system needs to have the capability of negative quantities in recipes and invoices. You will need to handle substitutions, returns and other common items which require a negative quantity. In addition, flexible units of measure with unit conversion factors is essential. At a minimum, you will need units of measure for purchasing (e.g. case), production (e.g. can or gallon) and one or more recipe portion units. Try to purchase a system with the flexibility needed to handle your operating environment.
Once the essentials are checked off and you have a short list, there are capabilities which can save time in the routine use of the solution. Template management tools allow you to design shopping lists (order guides), inventory count forms, vendor bid lists, transfer forms and production worksheets. Handheld unit integration is also a plus. Rather than focusing on bar code scanning capability, give preference to units which handle the forms. These handheld units allow users to complete the forms on the spot. When the unit is synced or the file is emailed, no further data entry is needed.
Before you make your final decision, determine the level of support you will need. The main benefit in building a professional recipe model is the business intelligence gained during the database build phase. You will have many important questions. In addition, the technology issues which will surface often require a certified network technician.
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