Meals On Wheels

Meals On Wheels are a food distribution charity based in Carlisle. They had an existing system built by a previous developer, however he was no longer able to assist them, and the system no longer met their needs. They needed a new system to help them plan their operations.

The Brief

Meals On Wheels is a food distribution charity based in Carlisle, Cumbria. They work with elderly residents, providing pre-cooked meals and sandwiches for customers who are no longer able to cook for themselves.

Each week they issue the customer with a menu to place their orders, then log the orders in to a web based management system which had been created for them by a local freelancer. This system then calculated all the delivery rounds, and printed off the relavent paperwork for the drivers and kitchen each day to reflect the orders.

It was becomming apparent to the charity that the system no longer had the features they required - and instead post-it notes were pinned to all the walls in the office, and notes scribbled on each days reports to reflect dietry requirements and special changes which were needed for each client.

There was a high risk of dietry requriements being missed - which could result in injury to a customer, so the charity was keen to update and enhance their system to automate tracking of these requirements, however the previous developer was no longer able to assist them due to changes in circumstances.

Our Approach

Nighthawk Software was approached to design a new replacement system for Meals On Wheels, with the following strict requirements:

- It must function roughly the same as the existing system to avoid the need to train staff
- All client data must be copied over to the new system to avoid data loss
- The system must be upgraded to add better support for dietary requirements and other needs the charity have identified.

We set up a series of meetings with the customer to better understand how the current system worked, and identify where the system fell short of requirements. We then designed a new system to replace this. The system was then rebuilt using more modern web techniques, to create an easy to use, responsive web interface that worked well on both desktop and mobile devices.

Data entry screens were laid out in a similar format to the previous system so that users were instantly familiar with how everything worked. We then looked at parts of the system which we felt were badly designed and overly complicated, replacing these with a simpler design.

For example - the route management system was upgraded from a simple list showing the order of deliveries, to an interactive map with drag & drop functionality, highlighting the exact location of each delivery, allowing more efficient routes to be instantly visualised and orders rescheduled accordingly.

Clients profiles were them upgraded to add improved tracking of dietry requirements - this was then highlighted on the order page by highlighting any dishes that would cause an issue for the customer and restricting them from ordering these.

The Outcome

Meals On Wheels are now evaluating the solution we developed and are planning to roll out the system across their facility in the coming weeks. Initial feedback has been extremely positive, and the charity are already looking forward to the benefits the system will offer them.
The client is already planning the next round of changes they wish to add - including improved reporting & integration with their accounting system.

Customer Details - The view showing a customers details, primary contact and a map of where they live Reporting - Example showing financial reports, listing all orders placed by a customer Order Screen - The screen where staff can quickly enter the customers order for the week Route Management - Map showing the current location of all drops for the delivery round, plus drag and drop options to re-order