The purpose of conducting a field assessment is to ensure that your locations are operating and performing according to the guidelines set. In doing this, a level of standardization in the operating processes in multi-unit restaurant chain. The lengthy process of going through dozens of operations checklists and safety and food inspection checklist is undertaken so as to identify the areas of opportunities, and once identified, the next most important part of the whole process is to draw an action plan to take corrective actions based on the data collected. The process doesn’t end here for it is extremely crucial that the action plan is tracked so as to know and take remedial or alternative steps in case of contingencies, and identify any gaps in adhering to the action plan. In addition tracking ensures timely completion of the tasks. The importance of action plans and tracking them can’t be overemphasized and yet the inability to do so with excel based assessment makes it an outdated and inefficient method in modern restaurant operations auditing.
In every restaurant chain, District Managers (DM’s) complete field inspections on the locations they are responsible for. During these store visits, there are certain areas of the store that often require more focus in the form of a follow up or Action Plan. With paper and excel based field assessments, creating these Action Plans and then keeping a track on them can be a challenging experience, lowering the probability that they are completed at all. It is, in fact one major disadvantage among others discussed in another article of using excel based assessments that can render the whole exercise futile for the inability to track action plans in real time might result in no actions taken at all defeating the purpose of the assessment.Tracking a field assessment action plan is central to ensuring an impactful assessment that results in restaurant operations excellence
Some concerns with tracking excel based action plans are elaborated below:
Time to create action plans is long and tracking them an even longer process
Conducting an assessment is a time-consuming process that requires the DM to walk the complete footprint of their store, observing and taking notes and photographs. Based on their observations, comments and suggested action plan to address an area of concern is then drawn and added with respective tasks assigned to designated person in charge of that particular focus area. With excel based forms, these are added only after the inspection is completed and attached and sent as emails. As a result, excel forms take a much longer time when creating action plans as it is done post assessment. It also makes keeping track of corresponding actions in real time not only a lengthy process owing to the back and forth flow of emails for every change in actions taken but also makes it difficult to coordinate the corresponding action with the assigned tasks in real-time.
Thus, keeping track of specific areas for future Action Plans, adds further time to the whole process of assessment, forcing the quality of each Action Plan to suffer. Further, the nature of excel based forms requires that the action plans are created after the restaurant checklist entries are completed which results in more time consumption while also introducing the possibility of human error, commonplace given the complexity of excel spreadsheets, to creep in, adding to the confusion and lack of coordination in real-time. Creating these Action Plans at the end of an assessment elongates the overall store visit, taking more time to complete the overall process.
Ambiguity with no specific target areas
Because of these generalized Action Plans, the level of ambiguity increases with no specific task or area flagged. Completing Action Plans at the end of an assessment means that the precise position that the Action Plan refers to, might be lost during the assessment. It is difficult for a DM to identify and recall the exact spot that an infraction occurred. Reviewing their notes might give a snapshot of the store specifics, but it won’t accurately articulate each area requiring an Action Plan and will result in communication gap. Devising an action plan, flagging a task and assigning it to a concerned person are all important steps to address operational issues identified during the assessment. Excel sheets create ambiguity as the specific target areas are not easily identifiable owing to the lack of a consolidated sheet that could reflect all these aspects at one place.
Zero accountability for tracking status updates
For an Action Plan to be successful, the problems identified during an inspection must be corrected by the store. While this may seem like an obvious requirement, with excel based Action Plans, tracking the status of these is extremely difficult. After a field inspection is complete, relevant parties at the store including Owners/General Managers (GM) will be provided with a list of issues along with tasks to fix these with an assigned due date. This is accompanied with a section where the person who will be responsible for the task is assigned. All this information as pointed out earlier is compiled and sent as emails.
Coordinating the completion of tasks with the person assigned can be an arduous task when using excel based forms as sharing the tasks and the follow-up steps become a non-linear flow of exchanges via emails which can prove extremely difficult to track and lead to loss of accountability. Lack of a unified platform or a consolidated sheet makes it impossible to see at once and in real-time as to what is happening with the suggested action plan. There is lack of clarity with respect to who is assigned what task for what action plan. Those responsible seldom get to know of their tasks and update it in real time, when using excel based assessments creating a vacuum in the process which results in hardly any accountability for tracking status updates.
These are some of the disadvantages in addition to many others that are implicit in using excel based assessments when it comes to tracking action plans. Creating an action plan, creating tasks, assigning these tasks with deadlines and follow-ups are all updates that can’t reflect in a single consolidated excel sheet but would require several attachments at different ends of emails going to and fro. These endless chain of emails make it an insurmountable task to keep a track of every task completed and actions taken. This can virtually result in the failure of the whole exercise of the restaurant operations auditing, for, the purpose to bring about an impactful result is lost if actions are not implemented in time.
With excel based field inspection forms, even the DM’s conducting them have no way to remotely monitor whether corrective actions have taken place without physically revisiting the store. This becomes a strenuous and nearly impossible responsibility for the DM’s. All these reflect the inadequacy of using excel based assessments which prove incompetent in many important aspects pertaining to a restaurant operations field assessment, and with more data and more information particularly for multi-unit enterprises, the growing complexities and intricacies of the nature of restaurant operations auditing, excel based assessments prove to be a waste of time and resources while being entirely incompetent to address all the challenges of a field assessment.
With MeazureUp’s? digital field assessment, all Action Plans are created with specific tasks in mind providing constant communication including visual documentation to facilitate updates and track action plans in real-time between all relevant stakeholders. To learn more please click the link below.
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