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How do you do....it? Thread, Questions to ask Cashless Catering suppliers - urgent! in Technical; I should have opened this thread sooner but I forgot I have two meetings today with Cunninghams and Gladstones, at ...
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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Question Questions to ask Cashless Catering suppliers - urgent!

    I should have opened this thread sooner but I forgot

    I have two meetings today with Cunninghams and Gladstones, at 10am and 1.30pm respectively, about implementing a new cashless catering system. We have no existing system (all cash). We're talking to these two because they integrate with our WisePay online payments (which is fantastic, FWIW). We'll also want them to integrate with Facility. Ideally they'd integrate with our existing library system for the fingerprints, but (big but) we're not on BioStore - we're on Identikit, and have been for donkey's years. I think we'll be forced to move away, but if they can integrate then it will save us re-registering everyone.

    So those of you who have cashless systems: what should I ask? What did you not find out until two months in? What hidden costs do I need to squeeze out of them? How can I make the shiny salesman squirm?

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    Some questions, coming from both a previous field EPOS support role with experience of cashless catering systems etc. and now from the other side in a Education IT support role

    Accessing equipment from the network - It seems some are a bit reluctant to put VNC software or remote software. This makes it a bit incovenient when trying to remote sort issues. Many have limited connectivity meaning even if you can access the machines you have to disconnect them to plug in a keyboard.

    Support level - How are the devices going to be supported. Are they going to completly support the devices i.e. if a till needs re-imaging due to HDD issue who is responsible for re-setup and confuguring if required.

    What access to the company use/need to comunicate with the end devices for support/updates if neccessary.

    Cheers

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    sonofsanta (14th March 2013)

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    sonofsanta's Avatar
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    Brilliant - cheers

    Quote Originally Posted by Davit2005 View Post
    Accessing equipment from the network - It seems some are a bit reluctant to put VNC software or remote software. This makes it a bit incovenient when trying to remote sort issues. Many have limited connectivity meaning even if you can access the machines you have to disconnect them to plug in a keyboard.
    Hadn't thought about this - having read through the Cunningham's threads on here, people don't seem too enamoured of their support & response times, so I want to be able to connect in and troubleshoot myself. I have a capable & competent team here, I would rather we take on some of the support burden ourselves and get fixes done quicker than have to rely entirely on a third-party for support.

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    We are looking at Nationwide (not the bank but a cashless option) They have a finger print scan that is converted in to a pin so then you can use that pin for things like library system and in our case follow me printing with pin release/fingerprint release so you only have to register the students once and any parents that don't want students finger to be scanned can be issues with manual pin code. I would ask them what optional extras they would recommend as we had Cunninghams give us a bare bones quote then everything was extra which made the price go up . Are they supplying all the hardware or do they expect you to provide machine or server access for their software. Will it run on its own network ? or be added to existing school network? do you have network points at existing tills ? do you require UPS in-case of power out so you can still sell food ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    Brilliant - cheers



    Hadn't thought about this - having read through the Cunningham's threads on here, people don't seem too enamoured of their support & response times, so I want to be able to connect in and troubleshoot myself. I have a capable & competent team here, I would rather we take on some of the support burden ourselves and get fixes done quicker than have to rely entirely on a third-party for support.
    It is a big plus being able to either remote into the device instead of having to be on a mobile in a busy school hallway trying to speak to a technical department. The company we used to do third party support were able to remote into end devices from outside :-) . The equipment at a previous school didn't have remote access and it was a pain but thankfully we only had 2 top up stations and 3 tills which seemed to be reliable.

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    We went with Cunninghams last June. The biggest problem we had was getting hold of them in Sept (as they said so many schools wanted their installs over summer that support was inundated). When the rush died down support calls were answered as per normal.
    I would ask them to provide their SLA so that you have it in writing.
    Make sure someone from your team watches everything they do as you will be the first point of call (within School) to sort problems.
    Since its been in we havent had any major issues.

    The "Impact" software used to login to the system could do with a change in the login screen. They used a single login name for all users.
    You get a box for username, a box for password and then another box for "new password". We had a couple of times when the users of the system typed in a new password thinking it was their personal one. We couldnt change it as it has to be done in the Database and they dont give you access to that!
    Ask about end of year procedures. Ask about how and when you can enroll your new Y7 intake.

    Find out where all the components are installed and what they do. We have bits on the Server and bits on the PC in the kitchen. Knowing which bits do what helps when there are issues like payments not coming through or purchases not getting updated on the system.

    They installed VNC on all the tills, balance checker and the ktichen PC so remote access is not an issue for us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiza View Post
    The "Impact" software used to login to the system could do with a change in the login screen. They used a single login name for all users.
    You get a box for username, a box for password and then another box for "new password". We had a couple of times when the users of the system typed in a new password thinking it was their personal one. We couldnt change it as it has to be done in the Database and they dont give you access to that!
    Ask about end of year procedures. Ask about how and when you can enroll your new Y7 intake.
    You can get access to the Cunninghams DB if you ask nicely (or ask the right people nicely!). We've certainly got access to be able to pull out more detailed reporting info, and also because we do weird things with staff duty meals/free drinks vending for staff.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xenonive View Post
    We are looking at Nationwide (not the bank but a cashless option)
    They're not a bank anyway

    Ben

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    Quote Originally Posted by fiza View Post
    We went with Cunninghams last June. The biggest problem we had was getting hold of them in Sept (as they said so many schools wanted their installs over summer that support was inundated). When the rush died down support calls were answered as per normal.
    I would ask them to provide their SLA so that you have it in writing.
    Make sure someone from your team watches everything they do as you will be the first point of call (within School) to sort problems.
    Since its been in we havent had any major issues.

    The "Impact" software used to login to the system could do with a change in the login screen. They used a single login name for all users.
    You get a box for username, a box for password and then another box for "new password". We had a couple of times when the users of the system typed in a new password thinking it was their personal one. We couldnt change it as it has to be done in the Database and they dont give you access to that!
    Ask about end of year procedures. Ask about how and when you can enroll your new Y7 intake.

    Find out where all the components are installed and what they do. We have bits on the Server and bits on the PC in the kitchen. Knowing which bits do what helps when there are issues like payments not coming through or purchases not getting updated on the system.

    They installed VNC on all the tills, balance checker and the ktichen PC so remote access is not an issue for us.

    We have had Cunninghams in our school (I made the decision to go with them after speaking to a number of companies) for about 2 years now and I have to say the system has been extremely reliable and the support has been very good too. Our system is Biometric (Biostore) and the most complicated bit was enrolling 2300 kids and staff!

    I would agree with all the above comments especially the September rush, but overall it has been a good experience for us.

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    It's a bit too late, but:

    1) does the network stack on your tills support changing the subnet mask?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    It's a bit too late, but:

    1) does the network stack on your tills support changing the subnet mask?
    Shouldn't be an issue anyway as we VLANned just last Easter so subnets are fairly settled. It looked like all the tills were just running Windows 7 anyway, so hopefully not a problem, but I'm guessing by the question it's come up in the past...


    Just to update the thread in general, after five hours of talking on this dullest of subjects, the general consensus amongst the various stakeholders here was that Cunningham's seemed to suit our needs better out of the box than Gladstone's did - the way Staff Duty Meals were dealt with, and Free School Meals, and PIN rather than Smartcard as the biometrics alternative. Next step is to go visit a school that has the same combination of systems we're looking at - Facility CMIS, WisePay & Cunningham's - which we'll hopefully get to do this week, if the sales bod gets back to us with a name. I may end up asking on here who uses that combo and if they don't mind a visit from three of us here.

    As far as I can tell, every cashless catering system is imperfect, dodgily coded and running on a wing and a prayer, so it probably won't make much difference to me personally which flavour of poison we elect to go with.

    (and we're aiming for a June launch, thus avoiding the September rush - so's the plan, at any rate)

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    Just out of interest, and I've dropped you a PM before seeing your reply, how are the free school meals handled differently? And the staff meals?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edu-IT View Post
    Just out of interest, and I've dropped you a PM before seeing your reply, how are the free school meals handled differently? And the staff meals?
    Free School Meals: Cunningham's can disguise it on the till (e.g. just put an asterisk next to the student name) whereas Gladstone's out and out says "Free School Meal" next to it. Both hide it on the customer display, but our tills are positioned such that students could see the full till view.
    Staff Duty Meals: Gladstone's SDM work the same as FSM, i.e. a daily allowance is added. Cunningham's lets you do that or just add a lump of cash to their account at the beginning of the week (a "gold account"), which they can then spend up on milk & water for their department at the end of the week. Which is how we do things anyway.

    So both fairly specific to us, but such particularities always fell in Cunningham's favour as far as we were concerned.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sonofsanta View Post
    Shouldn't be an issue anyway as we VLANned just last Easter so subnets are fairly settled. It looked like all the tills were just running Windows 7 anyway, so hopefully not a problem, but I'm guessing by the question it's come up in the past...
    "But we thought all networks used 192.168.0.0 / 255.255.255.0, so we just put that in the firmware."

    We were quite explicit in pointing out the likelihood of them ever getting paid if that wasn't remedied.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    "But we thought all networks used 192.168.0.0 / 255.255.255.0, so we just put that in the firmware."

    We were quite explicit in pointing out the likelihood of them ever getting paid if that wasn't remedied.
    Genius. I think that neatly sums up the level of technical competence I'm expecting from these systems.

    They both said they preferred static IPs, which I'm not averse to in this instance, hopefully that doesn't mean "static IP in a completely different range".

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