We’re Living In The Stone Age of Food Software (And It’s Killing Us Slowly)
July 1, 2022
There are few things as life-draining as being forced to log into an ancient software to complete your work. It’s slow, unorganized, it barely even works in the first place, and it’s dreadful to look at. Sadly, this is the standard state of affairs for many food companies—and it’s the source for many, many problems.
The software your food business runs on should feel just as good or better to use than the technology everywhere else in your life.
In this article, we’ll explore why this is a guiding principle at Galley, and how it’s led us to a food data platform that people (even line cooks!) actually like to use.
We’ll quickly cover…
What legacy food software has in common with the Apollo missions
How we use feedback loops to stay smart about UX and UI
Practical ways we develop user experiences that inspire high adoption rates
Your Work Tech Should Be Better Than Your Home Tech
Technology’s pace of change is stunning. Modern smartphones are over a million times more powerful than the computers that ran the Apollo space missions at NASA. The last Apollo mission was carried out 47 years ago, in 1975.
And yet, somehow, much of the software the food industry runs on looks and feels like it was developed in the Apollo mission era—completely devoid of the user experience savviness of the technology that’s commonplace in our modern lives.
(We’re looking at you, re-skinned accounting ERP programs.)
It shouldn’t feel like logging into stone age tech when you arrive at work.
It should feel like putting on your Iron Man suit.
Stone age tech and tools…
Reduce team efficiency and morale by requiring redundant, manual data entry
Create time-consuming, manual workarounds that don’t even use the tech at all
Have muted impact because of low adoption and incomplete or imperfect data
How many people touch your recipes and menus daily? Likely dozens at the corporate HQ, and hundreds or thousands in the kitchens and prep facilities. Because of how fundamental recipe and menu management is—and how many business systems are built on that data—slow and clunky software can mean hundreds of hours wasted each week.
It’s time for a change. Enterprise ERPs and data platforms should feel smarter and better designed than the devices your employees use at home.
Four Ways Galley is Built to Feel Like A Super Suit
From the very beginning, being a leader in user experience and design has been a core value for Galley (we even won an award for it). We knew that there way it would add value to our industry to create another tool based on accounting software.
We had to do something fundamentally different, something that makes users—from high-level corporate leaders to on-the-ground line cooks—feel like they can accomplish anything.
So we did. Here’s how.
Built in and for Kitchens and Culinary Teams
Ask a kitchen manager or line cook if they like their software, and chances are you’ll hear a chorus of ‘NO’s. Legacy food tools were originally built and designed with business leadership in mind (you know, because that’s who signs the contract) with the expectation that employees like kitchen workers should fall in line with their employer’s tools and processes.
So often, however, this just isn’t how it works.
Kitchen teams often fail to log into their software for long periods of time, choosing instead to write recipes or techniques down on paper (which creates a whole slew of different problems). They’ve got food to prepare—they don’t have time to fiddle with tools from eras past.
Galley was built with the direct input of kitchen professionals. With their help, we’ve been able to develop workflows that don’t feel like side tasks for managers and line cooks, but natural extensions of the food prep work.
For example, the cloud recipe hub means kitchen teams always have access to the latest recipe versions and data, accessible from a pleasant interface. And when big orders arrive, Galley automatically scales recipes so chefs don’t have to pull out the old calculator.
Instant Updates, Multiple Times Per Day
We use a software development approach at Galley called Mob Programming. It’s a very specific way of working that has multiple teams (or ‘mobs’) working on different problems, validating them, and releasing fixes or updates in the same day.
This approach results in quality, incremental changes and updates from multiple teams happening daily (enabled largely by our clean data model, Open API, and the most advanced information architecture in the world). It means we deploy updates to thousands of sites daily.
As a result, using Galley never feels outdated, there is no 2022 Edition vs 2023 Edition. The platform ever-evolves and improves, which is a stark difference in usability compared to what most culinary software users are used to.
Agile, Fast Feedback Loops
Mob programming means we have the capacity to take feedback and insight from our industry partners and customers and implement changes very quickly. It’s something that energizes our team internally. Instead of getting feedback, sending it off to a development team, and crossing our fingers that it gets implemented within the next few months, we’re able to see changes and improvements happen within days or weeks.
This has created a culture of deep listening at Galley. Starting with the discovery call, through planning, scoping, training, implementation, and customer success—all the way through we are receiving feedback and turning it into product action at an atypical pace.
Consultative Approach with Module Workflows
Why sell you the buffet when you just want one dish? Overwhelming software is one of the things that leads to poor adoption among employees, so we cut the clutter and keep Galley focused on just the use cases your teams need.
Additional modules and workflows can be turned on and off as your business grows or your needs become more sophisticated. Identifying exactly which workflows are needed, and in what order they ought to be flipped on as the operation increases in complexity, is something we’re always thinking about with Galley users to make sure not only your culinary operation is optimized, but also how your team uses Galley.
Stone Age Food Tech is Costly
We recently completed an ROI breakdown of using Galley and validated what we’ve heard from most Galley users: when you have dozens, or even hundreds, of people who interact with food recipes, costing, inventory, and purchasing, every drop in efficiency compounds.
Simply put: the old tools that are commonplace in our industry are eating away higher margins than is necessary in our era of modern data systems—we’re no longer in the stone age, but we’re still using stone age tools.
It’s time to trade in the old gear for the super suit.
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