Supply Chain Management: The Pizza Party

supply chain managementI had an experience over the weekend that I felt had a lot of applicability to my work.

We had a “pizza and movie party” for my 6 year old over this past weekend. Friends, a showing of The Incredibles, and lots of pizza. Our local pizzeria recently installed this state-of-the-art touch-screen ordering system that allows the girls taking the orders (dubbed the ‘order takers’) to enter accurate orders, without the ‘order-makers’ having to clarify tickets with poor handwriting. I’m sure the system has some other nice features too – plus it’s fun to watch when you go in to pick up your pizza.

But, on this night with 5 pizzas in our order, I arrive only to find they have no record of my order. “Oh, sorry – are you sure you ordered it from here?” was their response. To which I replied – of course, and you read it back to me. Not to mention, at least one of the pies we ordered was a “named” pie – presumably from someone the owner knew or was related to, or simply made really good pizza topping combinations.

So – they threw in a quick order for me…with all those hungry kids back home waiting an extra 30-40 minutes for their dinners. I had lots of time to think about how similar this situation is with my own clients installing licensed enterprise software systems costing many millions of dollars.

It’s Just Like Supply Chain Management.

I have worked with so many of these clients, who buy top of the line software, spare no expense on feature functionality they “might need in the future” with all the bells & whistles, etc. Only to have it installed and implemented quickly, on a budget and timeline too small to meet the functional requirements, and with little to no training.

Now – I’m not saying the pizzeria bought the wrong system. Maybe they have plans to further integrate their new system into other aspects of their business (maybe a pizza ‘app’?) or maybe they just wanted to have customers come in and see their “big screens”. I don’t know & don’t care. But, waiting there for 30 minutes – I couldn’t help but start problem-solving their issues. My conclusion was the takers either A) didn’t get any training, and or don’t know how to ‘save’ an order, or B) didn’t have any input to the ordering system, which might be good for the ‘makers’ but not so easy for the ‘takers.’

Maybe both?

Maybe they did the installation themselves, and figured they would work through the kinks once they went live.

Does this sound familiar?

Software and systems are tools. They are part of the solution to a problem. They are not the solution to a problem. Don’t forget to implement things with all the stakeholders (or pizza-holders in my scenario) in mind. Don’t skimp on the implementation and training when you’ve laid down a mint for a new tool. At the end of the day, customers just want their pizza hot, on time, and the right toppings. The perfect order that any system can promise, but no system can deliver without a quality implementation.

About Brad Forester


  1. Interesting article.

  2. Brad, great analogy between the pizza shop’s systems and what is only too commonly seen in business today. I not only agree with the comparison, but am thoroughly impressed that you were able to make it in the undoubtedly stressful situation of a home full of anxiously awaiting hungry 6 year olds. From my experience I think the issue falls somewhere between

    1) the rush to not miss being on board with the latest & best,
    2) perhaps not fully appreciating the balance between the actual need of the customer and allure of the sea of endless technical solutions
    3) and to your point, throwing down for the systems (which may or may not be overkill) but not the adequate training, implementation, and support

    While it’s true, almost all things are exposed to the threat of human-error, the greater the complexity, the higher the likelihood and in turn, the greater the need for preparation.

    Thanks for the post and I hope the pizza served the purposes of both feeding and slowing down the party goers!