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Smarter catering - VPM with SAP Fiori

To stay healthy, people need to eat a balanced diet. Many commercial kitchens use the catering management tool (VPM) from SAP for this purpose. SAP UI5 and Fiori enable more flexible mobile use.
Gerald Gerlich, Snap Consulting
11 October 2021
This text has been automatically translated from German to English.

The coronavirus has brought the quality of medical care into focus. In order to be able to maintain a high level even in the face of increasing cost pressure, many hospitals have to optimize their processes. This also applies to catering and cuisine. Providing thousands of people with high-quality food every day, taking into account individual preferences and diet plans, and also being economically profitable is an impressive achievement.

In addition to a modern kitchen infrastructure, this requires sophisticated logistics and optimally coordinated processes. This is not limited to hospitals, but also applies equally to company kitchens.

SAP's VPM tool supports the entire catering process. This includes creating menus, requesting menus, selecting recipes and sourcing ingredients, as well as the actual cooking process and portioning and serving of meals. By matching diet plans with ingredients and intolerances, the program protects patients from eating the wrong thing.

In addition, the corresponding logging tells medical professionals and nutrition experts what was actually eaten - and thus what amounts of calories, fats or nutrients a patient actually consumed. This is a feature that also takes into account the trend toward providing evidence of healthy nutrition - whether for health reasons or due to liability issues. Of course, the purchased and processed ingredients are correctly assigned to the merchandise management system and booked accordingly. 

Going new ways

In order to optimize processes, new approaches are also being taken. Considerable potential lies in the preparation of food in what happens to it afterwards. More and more commercial kitchens are turning to the "cook and chill" concept, for example. In this process, almost fully cooked meals are quickly cooled and can then be stored for several days. Shortly before serving, they are regenerated (warmed) and prepared for consumption.

This process increases shelf life, which in turn substantially improves planning. The same applies to the "cook and freeze" system, in which food is flash-frozen after preparation. And finally, hospitals - most of which are privately organized - are flirting with à la carte offerings for a well-heeled clientele. To improve profits, commercial kitchens are also increasingly operating as caterers, supplying other facilities, such as schools or kindergartens, in addition to their own operations. 

The resulting higher demands and new business areas also require target group-oriented, visually appealing interfaces. Be it in the selection of the menus offered, the handling of menus, ingredients and recipes, or the management of nutritional data.

The necessary requirement results from the needs of the customer. Thanks to SAPUI5 and Fiori, the required (web) interfaces can be implemented quickly and flexibly in the VPM tool. Since they can be designed responsive, they work cross-platform for applications on the desktop as well as for mobile devices. 

Future VPM versions will fully exploit the possibilities of the Fiori design concept. Only those dishes that are actually suitable for the relevant target group are available for selection via the menu or display. A set of templates makes it easy to present the dishes on offer in an appealing way. In addition, there are even more efficient options for planning and purchasing, as well as more precise evaluations of nutrition plans and their parameters.

Ongoing feedback from practical use also helps to improve the catering management tool. This is another special feature of the software - development based on solidarity. Developments through investments within the community benefit all users. If customers do not insist on exclusive solutions, innovations and improvements flow into the next release and are then available to all users. SAP itself is responsible for development and maintenance. Operationally, it is the proven core development team of Snap Healthcare.
Gerald Gerlich, Snap Consulting

Gerald Gerlich is a partner at Snap Consulting. He co-developed the Catering Management sub-application of SAP's Generic Healthcare Template.

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