Planning, Developing & Deploying a Self-Service Network.

An exciting new column kicks off! The purpose of this walk-through guide, is to drive you through all the necessary steps of a Self-Service project, "from soup to nuts"! Who, What, Where, When, Why & How... Everything is going to be addressed in here!

Table of Contents
1. Objectives
2. Planning
3. Functionality
4. Target
5. Setup
6. Operations
7. Productivity
8. Deployment
9. Marketing
10. After Sales
.

Adopting and deploying a Self-Service Network is a huge step for every contemporary business, in order to upgrade its offered services to the public. It is a separate - yet sometimes complementary - support network and has the potential to bring lots of benefits to the business.

Objectives

The first step of this walk-through guide is to set up the Business Objectives, in regards to the Self-Service project. It is arguably the most important part of the whole process, as it is the foundation for the project to come. In order to embark on this new venture, the business should answer the following question:

What do I want to achieve through this; what are my objectives?

  • Free up resources?
  • Offer better support?
  • Increase geographical presence?
  • Something else?

The answer to the above question may be simple or not, but setting your objectives - whether they are easy or hard to accomplish - is the most secure way to properly monitor your ultimate goal, which is ROI optimization.

Planning

Starting digging deeper, we have to stop for a minute and say a few words about the issue of Planning, which is the second phase of a Self-Service project.

Planning should be the initial sketching of the whole project and there are certain key elements that need to be discussed and clarified, as much as possible, in order for the particular project to be based on solid foundations. Below, we try to put things together and address the most important issues:

  • Careful choice of the initial technical specifications.
  • Possible synergies with other organizations.
  • Possible interconnections with other back-office systems
  • Personnel Training & Promotion Activities
  • Draft timetable of the whole process (Demo, Pilot, Roll-Out)

All of the aforementioned elements are essential for succeeding and must be taken into serious consideration from such an early stage of the project, in order to be carefully thought (maybe ask the help of an expert for the proper and effective promotion of the upcoming Self-Service network) and well-planned, both in terms of budget as well as in terms of effective time to market.

Functionality

Moving on to Phase 3, we need to address some key points in regards to the project's Functionality.

The Functionality of every Self Service project can be distinguished in two separate categories:

  • Functionality towards the End-User
  • Functionality towards the Back-Office User

These categories, however, have a common basis, which is the desired Transaction(s). Every Self Service Transaction follows a specific flow, which can be simply described through 4 steps, as follows:

  • Identification: How the End-User identifies himself (Barcode Scan, NFC Device, RFID, Personalized Card, Typing on physical/on-screen keyboard)
  • Interaction: What actions should the End-User do, if required, for the transaction to proceed
  • Payment: Cash, Credit/Debit Card or both? If cash, do we want to give change? If yes, just coins or banknotes, too?
  • Receive: What the End-User receives in order for the transaction to finish (Receipt, Ticket, Card)

Implementing the above sequence and rationale, will lead you having a simple, user-friendly and clear transaction flow that the End-User will appreciate. At the same time, through the above transaction flow, the back-office system has the ability to collect all necessary data, in order to generate reports, statistics, etc. In addition, it will be convenient for the Back-Office User to effectively integrate it with any other existing system; thus the overall functionality does not become an issue.

Please, stay tuned with us for the coming issue. Next Stop... "Target".