Data depicted on multiple screens in high tech room
ITC automation brings a wealth of data that improves managerial control

Overall return on ICT investment

The implementation of the new ordering system at Pic Nic Pak cafe is based on a real life case. In what follows we will explore the different types of value returns for this business, across the IT portfolio types.


The wireless system was implemented in September 2003. The changeover to the new mobile system took place over a couple of days. Each waiter received an hour’s training (provided by the vendor of the mobile system) to use the ordering system. The owner noted that there were no major difficulties in switching to the new system. This indicates a benefit of standardised (plug and play) and scalable infrastructure (the restaurant owner can always add more handhelds as the business grows).

  • A standardised, scalable infrastructure is value return related to the Infrastructural element in the IT portfolio.

Reported benefits

The new system holds a number of benefits, especially when compared to the previous paper-based ordering process. The new system automates aspects of the order taking process, but also effects many other facets of the business. The owner noticed improvements in their profitability after only two months of operating their new system.

  • Increase profitability is an example of return so is in the strategic section in the IT portfolio.

Efficiency gains

The new automated order-taking process was reported as more efficient (than the former paper-based process). Waiters do not need to spend time walking around the restaurant to hand deliver copies of orders. Instead, the waiters can now spend more time servicing their patrons more promptly. The ‘point and tap’ entry speeds up the order-taking process and captures the data electronically. The new system produces data that would have been calculated separately (eg for financial reporting) and produces much richer data for improving other processes (eg stock replenishment).

  • This is an example of a transactional section in the IT portfolio.

Labour cost savings

The owner reported a major saving in terms of her labour costs. She stated that the business could significantly reduce the number of waiters needed, especially during peak periods (lunch and dinner times).

  • This is an example of transactional section in the IT portfolio.

Improved control

The owner also reported a number of benefits that could be grouped under the banner of improved managerial control. The owner noted the new system reduces instances of undercharging due to error (for example, when the waiter forgets to note down the drinks order at the central area). With the new system, the chance of this occurring is eliminated—orders have to go ‘through the system’ to get processed.

  • This is an example of a return related the informational section in the IT portfolio.

This aspect of the system also reduces instances of fraud that were difficult to detect in the old paper-based system. In the old process, the waiter could for example, serve patrons (who are his friends) without lodging their full order at the central reception area.

  • This is another example of informational type, related to improved managerial control of the business in the IT portfolio.

The new system better supports the ordering process itself. The system reminds waiters of specials and appropriate side orders for different menu choices, etc. Previously, waiters would often forget to suggest specials, forget to mention appropriate side orders for different menu choices, or were unsure if a popular special menu item would still be available (eg during peak hours). As a result Pic Nic Pak cafe lost revenue. With the new ordering system such reminders are incorporated.

The owner noted that the richer data produced by the system has enabled her to plan better. Having such fine-grained data available has enabled better menu design (as she can keep track of more popular menu items). This translates into more precision when ordering supplies. The new system has taken some of the guesswork out of ordering quantities of raw goods needed for different dishes.

  • This example of informating belongs to the informational section in the IT portfolio.

Your task

Download the PDF of PicNic Pak’s investment PIC NIC PAK ICT Investment.pdf.

Mark on the investment form where the business value returns are occurring and indicate which of the four different elements of the IT Portfolio the return is associated with. Photograph your ideas and post them on the Padlet wall.

Make sure you look at what some of the other students have posted and add your comments as to whether you agree with their decisions.

Access this file for instructions on how to work with the Padlet wall, refer to the Padlet: How to Guide.   Remember when you add a post to include your name, a title and short description to help others understand what you are posting your comment about.

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Competitive Advantage: Using Information to Gain a Competitive Edge

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