3 Proven Tips for School Nutrition Software Procurement

Successfully procure your new software system, get total team buy-in, and ensure a smooth implementation using this district’s strategy.

Nutrition software screen

Choosing the right school nutrition technology solution is all about finding the right fit. From identifying your needs and wants to writing a strong request for proposal (RFP), the process can feel overwhelming at the start. A new software solution needs to do the job you ask of it while giving team members tools that make their jobs easier. Ultimately, it’s a combination of capability, flexibility, and service that wins.

Of course, total team buy-in gives your school nutrition software implementation the best chance for success. Staff members need to know their new solution makes work easier, and their commitment to adopting the new system can get you past any bumps or challenges that arise. Procurement is the time to get employees on board to ensure a smoother implementation. 

So how do you confidently choose the right new solution and solidify team buy-in for the change? Frederick County Public Schools in Maryland recently decided to implement LINQ District Nutrition after a thorough vetting and procurement process. Their story sets an excellent example for selecting a new school nutrition program solution.

In this blog post, we’ll look at their three keys to a successful software procurement process

  • Demo school nutrition software before writing the RFP 
  • Acknowledge staff pain points, and communicate a coming software change 
  • Align with IT to ensure the school nutrition software RFP includes their requirements 

Demo school nutrition software before writing the RFP

Bob Kelly, Food Services Director at Frederick County Public Schools, says demoing software before writing the RFP helped them better understand their needs and wants. It gave them the chance to see what a modern solution could offer. Plus, a custom demo provided opportunities to ask questions and pose scenarios to see how the provider’s solution could work for their district.

Kelly says LINQ Nutrition stood out because it could meet needs their old system couldn’t. “We came to the conclusion we’d found what we needed in a new solution right after our demo with LINQ Nutrition,” he remembers. The demo showed them what was possible with an advanced solution.

Market research plays a big role in any procurement process, but a 1:1 demo offers a priceless opportunity to put potential solutions to the test. You can go beyond the brochure and see how the system makes real-world processes and workflows easier. For Kelly’s team, the demo phase of their research helped them see what they could ask for and where they didn’t need to compromise.  

Acknowledge staff pain points, and communicate a coming software change

Early communication heads off surprises—and that’s critical when introducing a new software implementation to staff members. Kelly says his team knew the staff’s nutrition program pain points and communicated very early that a platform change was coming. They didn’t wait until they’d already procured a new solution. They kept staff members informed about the process and how the new solution would serve them better.

While announcing a new implementation can be challenging, Kelly says the staff at Frederick County was ready when the time came. Their issues with the old system were well documented, and Kelly’s team made sure any new solution they considered would directly address those shortcomings. He says, “We have some employees who had used the same software for 20-plus years, so we were looking to make this a positive implementation experience and get buy-in from our staff.” They raised staff challenges during their demo of LINQ Nutrition and later communicated to staff members exactly how it would ease the headaches they had been experiencing for years. Rather than hesitation, Kelly says there’s resounding excitement around the new implementation. “I’ve talked with about 50% of our managers [so far], and they cannot wait for the change!”

In addition to team buy-in, getting leadership on board is also critical. Kelly says the Frederick County School Board President had one primary concern when implementing a new school nutrition solution: would it make life easier for families? He also took this concern into the demo process and learned how LINQ Nutrition promised to simplify student meal payments and menus for families. With that assurance, he had leadership on board.

Align with IT to ensure the school nutrition software RFP includes their requirements

Keeping IT in the loop helps everyone avoid headaches. Imagine demoing multiple products, getting team buy-in for a change, and then making a final selection, only to discover it can’t meet the IT team’s technical or security standards. To avoid this frustration and a delay in implementing a better solution, the team at Frederick County went through their RFP in detail with the IT team. With their sign-off, the request went live.

In addition to avoiding kinks in the process, aligning with IT also gives you a powerful ally. They can advocate for your new solution if needed and are a crucial player in making an implementation successful. They’ll be the ones fielding technical questions and troubleshooting issues. Reassuring those experiencing even minor difficulties that the system is right for the district and will ultimately simplify everyone’s work is priceless.

Lock down your new school nutrition software with a resounding “Yes!” from the team

Team buy-in is at the heart of any effective procurement decision. Frederick County can head into implementation confident that they chose the right solution for their school nutrition program’s unique needs. They also have nutrition staff, district leaders, and their IT team enthusiastic about the new platform. It’s a recipe for success that makes good sense to follow.

The ultimate goal is to make life easier for staff, district leaders, and families. Kelly says he’s confident their new solution will do that.

Webinar Finding the Right Fit Thumbnail

Hear the full story of Frederick County’s successful procurement process

Watch this on-demand webinar to hear Food Services Director Bob Kelly and Purchasing Manager Bill Meekins tell their full story of choosing the right school nutrition software and getting total team buy-in.