Founded in 1881, the University of Liverpool has an impressive history of pioneering education and research, with a particular emphasis on 'education for the professions'.
Today they are a principal centre of excellence in many disciplines, including engineering, medicine, dentistry, business and law - as they strive to prepare their students for the challenges of the 21st century. As one of the UK's top 20 research-led universities and over 23,000 on campus students the University is known as one of the market leaders in the University Catering and Retail sector due to their forward thinking approach to Catering & Retail Management, combined with their passion for food and attention to detail in service.
A European tender process has resulted in a contract award to MCR Systems. The team selected MCR Systems Symphony suite following a number of different site visits and supplier interviews having set out a detailed list of specific business process changes that the University needed to implement in anticipation of the changing financial circumstances within the education sector.
Neil Bickerstaff, Project Manager, Computer Services at the University confirmed that, "MCR Systems were the only supplier that demonstrated fully that they could meet all our objectives, deliver a quality system within budget and provide value for money for the University as a whole. MCR Systems demonstrated that they could offer full systems integration that would meet our business needs today and allow for proactive changing requirements in the future."
The University had identified a number of key objectives from both a business and project perspective.
- Reduction in cash handling, cash reconciliation and associated bank charges
- Increase in use of university catering outlets by both staff and students
- Improved control and audit of purchase, receipt, payment and inventory of goods
- Improved satisfaction ratings from students by offering a wider range of payment options and a range of discounts/offers
- Implementation of a replacement EPOS system
- Implementation of an integrated stock control system
- Implementation of menu engineering functionality within the EPOS system
- Ability to use the unified card for cashless payments across the EPOS system
- Functionality to manage contactless and mobile payments
- Provide an integrated system that will be able to interface with the Agresso Finance System
The scope of the contract includes;
- 16 differing locations, including Bars, Restaurants, Cafes, Shops and the Ness Botanic Gardens site which is owned by the University of Liverpool
- 23 x SymPOS EPOS Terminals with Cash Drawers and thermal printers
- 3 x SymPOS Mobile Wi-Fi Tablets
- 3 x Kitchen Display Screens
- Full SymPay " Cashless and Loyalty utilising both the University's existing student MiFare cards and MCR's Mobile App for identification online and at the point of sale. This will primarily manage a multitude of differing meal packages and schemes for catered and non-catered students. All students and staff will be able to load funds to accounts to spend in catering and retail outlets. Loyalty functionality will allow users to earn and redeem points in real time based on where, when, what, how often and how much they purchase. Electronic vouchers will be issued to smart phones as part of the SymPAY Loyalty application
- A new web portal for account top-ups and queries
- Multi location Symphony Stock Manager which the university will incorporate and integrate slowly as the project evolves.
- Multi user licenses for Symphony Enterprise to control the day to day EPOS management of promotions, pricing, products and menus combined with real time reporting
- Integrated Chip & Pin using the VeriFone Vx820 contactless units
- Full system Project Management
- Onsite training
- Seven day a week online and onsite Support and Maintenance
The appointed MCR Project Manager worked closely with the Client on scoping the other areas of the project. These tasks included;
- Establishing the project end goal
- Specifying requirements
- IT Infrastructure
- Data collation
- Provided effective communication
- Ensuring dedicated training
- User acceptance sign off
- System Go Live
- Working together to achieve agreed service levels
- Agree Project Plans for delivery, installation, training and Go Live
Neil Bickerstaff further comments;
"From a till operator's perspective the units supplied are clearer, quicker and simpler to operate meaning our staff can afford to spend more time interacting with our customers rather than worrying about which buttons to press. The available functionality is far greater and the use of the latest tablet tills allows different types of table service in our cafes and restaurants.
From an outlet manager's and EPOS Administration team's viewpoint, we are now able to keep an eye on real time daily sales from an item and value perspective or look back at previous spend patterns using the Symphony software. We can also identify our best sellers and understand the optimum sales mix for each unit.
There is a large range of reports to choose from giving excellent analysis. The system is simple to configure and being web based means this level of analysis can be carried out anywhere. The support and training from MCR during the installation period has been excellent.
We felt this was an ambitious project right from the outset with plans to incorporate our unified staff/student card into the loyalty scheme meaning that with a single card our students and staff could redeem their catered meal plans, redeem loyalty based promotions and most importantly top-up their accounts and spend it in all of our outlets right across the campus. We are now in the later stages of deployment of this phase of the implementation and we are all getting quite excited about the new marketing options we are hoping to exploit in the coming years".
Matthew Cox, Sales Manager for MCR Systems added, "As one of the leading universities in the country we were delighted to win the tender for this project. Our extensive experience within the university sector enabled us to remain competitive and understand their specific needs. Our Symphony solutions enable organisations to better control their sales operation, providing valuable reporting information and improved traceability of till users. We were able to implement the new hardware and software to budget and to the university's specific time constraints."