Changing Perceptions: A Not So Scary Statewide POS System

It might be tempting to discount the concept of statewide POS software based on terminology without actually learning about the real possibilities that are available to your State agency.

Before we get to the heart of the matter, I think we need to take a moment to get over the hurdle of the word “statewide.”

Let’s face it, a single system that 100% of SFAs use is unlikely to fly in most states (I can envision rioting in the streets…or at least a lot of really bad press).

But who says your statewide system has to actually be used statewide? Statewide POS systems can be available to every SFA in the state and adoption can be encouraged as an optional tool at no charge to SFAs. So instead of thinking of the word “statewide” as meaning that every SFA uses your system, think of it to mean your system is available to every SFA.

Now that we agree that “statewide” is not a bad word, let’s talk a bit about how a statewide POS system can benefit your State agency. Although every state is unique and each has its own reasons for considering a statewide system, there are four common benefits to which we can all relate.

More Efficient Compliance Monitoring

A statewide POS system allows your compliance monitors to work more efficiently since they are very familiar with the system they are reviewing.

Of course, training new reviewers becomes easier in this scenario as well. Additionally, time is not wasted trying to translate the reports or types of data needed for the Administrative Review (AR) into verbiage that SFAs can associate with their operations. In other words, a statewide POS system provides a common vocabulary.

Data Access and Analytics

One of the biggest challenges facing State agencies when it comes to compliance monitoring is data access. With a Statewide POS system your State agency has access to SFA-level data when needed for an AR. In fact, you can review that data from the comfort of your own desk rather than waiting to review it onsite.

Completing more of the review off-site saves time. (Wait a minute…this point could easily pull double duty and fit in the “more efficient compliance monitoring” category above as well.)

Additionally, statewide POS software provides access to data that is not available via the typical reimbursement claim submission such as grade level participation, prepayment vs cash sales figures, student debt, and meal price comparisons.

With access to data comes the ability to aggregate data at a state-level to help make better business decisions. For example, based on aggregate collective data you may find that there is a need to conduct a certain type of training, or perhaps provide marketing/educational material to SFAs to improve statewide performance in targeted areas.

Proactive Technical Assistance

Daily compliance is the real goal of any technical assistance. Providing usable tools such as statewide POS software, not just guidance, can go a long way in ensuring daily compliance. There are times when tools are available through USDA and/or other sources that are well-intentioned but might not be very usable in the “real world.”

Quality software can help SFAs stay compliant long before an AR ever finds them out of compliance.

Therefore, statewide POS systems serve as a form of proactive technical assistance, especially for under-resourced SFAs. Unfortunately, more often than not, the SFAs that need the most help are the ones that can least afford it.

Level the Playing Field

A statewide POS system can level the playing field for districts of all sizes to afford a quality software system. All SFAs, including those that are under-resourced, have the same access to industry-leading software that larger, well-funded SFAs currently utilize, ensuring effective management of school nutrition operations.

The reality is that even though all SFAs need to follow the same State and Federal Guidelines, some simply have fewer resources to get the job done. 

The concept of statewide POS systems certainly has a lot of State agencies rethinking the status quo of every district for themselves when it comes to POS software.

While we only covered four reasons your State agency should explore the idea of providing statewide POS software, I am sure there are many other benefits you are already turning over in your mind.