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From e. coli-tainted romaine to listeria in sauces, food safety remains top-of-mind for pizza operators. In fact, many are turning to software solutions to keep their stores in compliance with the many rapidly changing and internationally variable food safety regulations.
But, it's important for pizza brand leaders to understand that food safety software can provide other operational boosts to their systems, including everything from increased accountability to overall operational excellence. The following eight areas represent the benefits many brand leaders may not realize their businesses stand to gain through the daily use of food safety software.
From the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act to the Global Food Safety Initiative, a growing number of standards and regulations across food service are now generating so much paper that the recordkeeping process has become a managerial nightmare. In fact, some brands have even experienced operational suspensions after failing to produce necessary documentation to authorities when requested.
After all, as far as an auditor knows, if it isn't documented, the brand didn't do it. But brands with software running system-wide can quickly prove regulatory compliance by instantly pulling up the appropriate forms and documentation for any auditor's or consumer's review.
Paper-based audits often require lots of redundant manual data entry since each form requires specific restaurant details, time and date information, and notes documenting each review's successes and failures. Mobile software eliminates the need to repeatedly provide the basic information of locations since such systems pre-populate documents with that information.
Likewise, such software eliminates the need to return to the office to type in such information and/or include it on spreadsheets. These systems also give operators a complete digital record of all this information which is also all available immediately for stakeholders, regulatory auditors and consumers.
Brands with numerous locations also have many different employees completing paper-based food safety duties, each in his or her own unique way. This is not only a recipe of inconsistency system-wide, but it leaves the chain without a solid baseline to work from, meaning it's all but impossible to gauge successes and failures across stores.
But, when each location uses the same mobile software, leadership can see a "dashboard" that instantly relays and compares individual store performance at a high level, so performance can be tracked by location, while trends and inconsistencies can be easily seen. This makes it easy to quickly and decisively provide feedback that is location specific, while helping standardize food safety operations.
Rather than simply telling those who are veering from good food safety practices, they're "doing it wrong," food safety software gives leaders information needed to explain why and how the erring parties are making mistakes. Mobile food safety software allows leadership to create employee learning experiences by allowing supervisors to clearly show employees relevant compliance recommendations on their mobile devices, then teach them what to do to ensure the problem doesn't happen again.
Automated CAPA can trigger activities based on a particular entry, response or incident. Based on the information submitted in each form, the software automatically provides the appropriate action plans, notifications and maintenance requests, as well as requests for audits or re-inspections.
Food safety breaches that become public can cost brands untold millions in lost brand respect and engagement along with the business that comes with those assets. But these problems can be avoided if brands perform continuous audits that help leaders regularly find and fix problems long before a food safety incident occurs. Likewise, even in the event that a food safety problem develops, mobile food safety software sends out needed CAPA to all affected employees' mobile devices, preventing the spread of a problem that could put your brand's name in the news for all the wrong reasons.
When leaders take the time to analyze information collected every day, they gain a better understanding of any problems happening at ground level, as well as being able to take each regional store's "pulse" daily.
Data analysis helps leaders see quickly whether problematic situations are improving or devolving by region, franchise group, management team or any other subset. The right data and a willingness to learn from it, allows leaders to generate the thoughts and conversations that trigger real learning. Over time, this generates better ideas and decisions.
Like anything else in life, if a restaurant brand isn't always getting better, it's probably getting worse. Similarly, continuous improvement is one of the most important components of any food safety plan because your brand is consistently improving its methods, execution and observations for increase performance.
But demonstrating continuous improvement takes patience, flexibility, regular internal auditing and reliable data. Mobile food safety platforms provide such data to give operators an ongoing view of where the brand is at any given moment, so leaders can help steer it to where they want the brand to go.
In addition to helping you avoid food safety problems, mobile food safety software cuts the time required to remedy problems by days and sometimes even weeks. And of course, that saved time equals saved money.
The best mobile food safety software can perform three types of audits, including those for operational, food safety and brand compliance purposes. That not only keeps your data organized in a single system, but gives your brand the advantage of better ROI-per-product.
The bottom line in all this is that mobile software and continuous auditing give leadership solid solutions to ensure food is being prepared properly, according to the procedures the brand has established. As a result, the brand will produce less waste from improperly prepared or diner-rejected meals.
In fact, task and CAPA automation combined with the money saved from non-compliance fines can easily outweigh the cost of mobile food safety solutions in dollars, stress and time.
Terry Dolan is head of solutions for WorldAPP, developers of Form.com. For more than 13 years, he had worked with technology companies to define the changing needs of enterprises customers and help shape product offerings to solve complex business challenges and add value. In the last six years, Terry has been focused on mobile and offline applications that improve safety, quality, and operational excellence through observational audits, forms automation, task management, and analytics.