How BI tools can help improve pizza delivery

Cognos software helps keep pizza orders on time

Pizza delivery seems simple. You call and someone takes your order and tells you, say, "20 minutes" -- which is what you tell your stomach and anyone else you may be sharing the pizza with.

But maybe the pizza doesn't arrive until 30 minutes later. It's hot, but it wasn't delivered in the promised time. You may well be a little unhappy because your delivery expectation wasn't met.

Paul Valle, CIO and vice president of IT at Papa Gino's Holdings, feels your (hunger) pain.

Ensuring that pizza delivery meets customer expectations is an important issue for Papa Gino's, a company that operates more than 370 Papa Gino's pizzerias and D'Angelo sub shops.

About one-third of Papa Gino's pizza business comes from customers placing home-delivery orders, Valle said. "Delivery is a key piece of our business," he said. "So anything we can do to monitor and measure and improve a third of our business is a huge thing to us."

In December, the restaurant chain began analyzing delivery data with business intelligence software from Cognos, which has since been acquired by IBM under a deal that was announced in November and completed last week.

Valle, who attended a press conference in New York Wednesday at which IBM announced integrated bundles of its technology and software from Cognos, said in an interview that Papa Gino's began considering BI tools about two years ago. Early last year, the chain chose the Cognos 8 product line and began installing the software.

Customer satisfaction levels improve, Valle said, if pizza buyers are given more accurate delivery times, even if the time window they're given is longer -- maybe 30 minutes as opposed to 20. He added that Papa Gino's could already tell from the point-of-sale system at a restaurant what time an individual order was received, when the customer was promised delivery, when the employee making the delivery left the store and when he or she returned. But before the BI tools became available, that information was stored in spreadsheets and was hard to access.

Papa Gino's executives now use Cognos 8 to analyze the data and look for exceptions, both positive and negative, in an effort to improve delivery-time estimates. Valle said he thinks the analysis results will help show restaurant managers how to ensure that customer expectations are set correctly, and possibly how to speed up deliveries.

The company is also using BI software in many other ways. For instance, improved forecasting capabilities have given store managers a better idea of how much product they should order and how many workers they should schedule, Valle said.

At Papa Gino's and other companies, the addition of BI tools also has meant more involvement with business users on the part of IT. The software gives end users more research options, and the data it generates can help them be more creative in their efforts to improve business performance, according to Valle and Carl Try, manager of e-commerce and advanced technology at Fiskars Brands Inc.

"We're engaged with that internal customer -- and it's good," Try said. Fiskars, a Madison, Wis.-based maker of garden tools, school and office supplies, scissors and other products, also uses BI software from Cognos.

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