How to select a Kitchen Display System (KDS) for restaurant, retail, and hotel chains.
By Allen Eskelin CEO - Peak Portfolio | Grid Decision - Apr 08, 2019
Is your Kitchen Display System (KDS) vendor pulling you to the industry best practices or are you constantly pushing them to the best practices? If the latter, it's time to re-evaluate your vendor decision.
Researching and selecting the right vendor solution for your enterprise is a critical decision. So what are the most important criteria in evaluating a KDS?
We recommend using the following primary categories when evaluating any technology solution: Business, Experience, References, Solution, Service, Integration, Technology, and Pricing:
Now that you have a good high-level overview of the criteria to use in comparing vendor solutions, how should you go about evaluating the vendors?
Our firm has helped many of the top restaurant, retail, and hotel chains to select their technology. Here is a very simplified version of our vendor selection process:
We have refined this process over the past 25 years, with many variations to handle multiple parallel and/or staggered vendor selections, complexity, innovation, and multiple brand stakeholders. But generally speaking, these primary steps should be part of your selection process:
This process works well because we reduce the number of vendors as each round gets progressively more expensive for both the customer and vendors. It also allows you to use objective, quantitative evaluation methods early in the process to narrow the list of vendors. Then adding the more subjective research methods can help differentiate vendors and ensure a good cultural fit.
Now, before we look at the vendor leaderboards, let's take a moment to review a new innovative approach we created to streamline the above selection process:
A New Innovative Approach
After decades of leading clients through some variation of the traditional vendor selection process described above, we consistently noticed the following issues:
- Vendor list - Identifying and short-listing the right vendors to include in the RFP process
- Updated RFP - keeping the RFPs updated to evaluate current innovations and best practices
- Scoring bias - often based on a selection team members past experience with a vendor years ago at a different company
- Scoring fatigue - after the first few hours of scoring RFPs, the selection teams would start giving roughly the same scores to vendors based on how they performed on previous questions in order to speed up the process
- Timelines - the vendor selection process typically takes 3-4 months due to the amount of time creating RFI/RFPs, waiting for vendors to respond, and scoring the responses
In 2017, we started thinking "there has to be a better way to help clients to rapidly get to the right short-list of vendors more objectively." That led us to create Grid Decision, an innovative approach to rapidly short-listing vendors while driving to a more objective decision in a 3-4 week time frame instead of the traditional 3-4 months. Here's a visual of the new Grid Decision process we defined versus a very conservative timeline for the traditional selection process (it's often several weeks longer):
You may be thinking, how can you cut an 11-week decision down to a 4-week decision without sacrificing the rigor required to make the right decision? The reality is that we're actually improving the level of rigor and objectivity in the new process while reducing the decision timeline to 3-4 weeks. How do we do this?
- Vendor Data: we get the vendor data in advance (refreshed by the vendors quarterly) so all we have to do is apply your priorities to the data (a 1-day exercise) to create a Custom Grid (see below)
- Objective Scoring: we converted our RFI/RFP to all drop-down boxes with auto-scoring on each option. This removes the possibility of scoring bias and scoring fatigue.
- Extensive RFI/RFP: we refresh our RFI/RFP each quarter based on feedback from both customers and vendors.
The first option is to have us create a Custom Grid to help you quantitatively and objectively short-list the vendors who best match your priorities. We do this in a one-day onsite engagement, whereby we apply your priorities to our vendor data and produce a Custom Grid matrix similar to the image below:
This Custom Grid will help you make a rapid and educated decision on which vendors to engage in your selection process. Here are some of the use cases for the Custom Grid:
- Rapidly short-listing vendors
- Validating your current vendors
- Justifying the funding/priority to select a new vendor
- Multi-brand stakeholder alignment by creating a Custom Grid for each brand based on their unique priorities
- Comparing your internally-developed solution against the vendor solutions (we have your team fill out our RFI so we can compare your solution with the vendor solutions)
The next option is to have us perform a mini-RFP to capture the confidential and client-specific vendor info (pricing, references, and any client-specific questions not already covered in our RFI). Once we have vendor responses to the mini-RFP, we update the matrix, similar to the image below:
You now have in 1-2 weeks everything you would typically have after a 6-8 week traditional RFI/RFP process.
In addition to the Premium Grid described above, most of our clients leverage our consulting services to lead them through the rest of the selection process. We facilitate the vendor onsite presentations/demos and reference calls to help select your 2-3 finalists. We then negotiate pricing and facilitate the final decision meetings. Why have us lead your pricing negotiations?
- Pricing: we know what the pricing should be for your size/volumes (and just as important, the vendors know that we know so vendors typically start with a lower price when we're involved)
- Results: we have negotiated a combined savings of over $96M, which is an average of 38% negotiated savings (and this includes hardware, which is a low-margin commodity)
- ROI: our clients have received an average of 63:1 return on investment on our consulting fees
To learn more about the Custom Grid, Premium Grid, and consulting services described above, click the button below to schedule an introductory call:
Okay, now that you've learned about the evaluation criteria, selection process, and how we can help, let's take a look at how the vendors compare using our market-specific leaderboards.
Here's an example of a 2019-Q1 leaderboard for the Quick-Service market:
To view the current quarter's leaderboard (and all the other leaderboards we produce), select your market below:
Policy: note that Grid Decision has a policy against receiving any funding from participating vendors. We believe this is the only way our clients (and the vendors) will trust our objectivity.
While the leaderboards linked above will give you a good idea of how vendors rank using a standard market weighting model (priorities), you would be surprised how the rankings change from one chain to another in the same market when they apply their own weighting model. That is why we created the Custom Grid option described above.
If you decide to pursue the DIY approach to selecting a vendor, we hope you have found this information helpful in planning your selection process.
About Author: Allen Eskelin is the CEO of Peak Portfolio (consulting) and Grid Decision (research). 28 years of technology selection and negotiation experience with top brands like Starbucks, Dunkin Brands, Papa Murphy's, Culvers, and Jamba Juice. Initial program manager for the initial Starbucks Card launch and expansion to national and global partners. Author of Technology Acquisition.
About Company: Grid Decision is a research firm that helps companies make data-driven technology decisions. This is accomplished through technology leaderboards and custom grids. Initial markets include restaurant, retail, and hotel technology. Visit griddecision.com for more info.
Receive insights and quarterly leaderboards here.