Mar 11, 2024 | Case Studies

How our Virtual Chief Technical Officer Helped Crystal Palace Football Club


Computer Care have been working with Crystal Palace FC, a Premier League Football Club, since 2008.  As the club have grown and moved into the Premier League in 2014, our service has grown and helped the club to ensure their IT systems and strategy works for them.

Virtual Chief Technical Officer 
Computer Care’s vCTO service is a strategic level consultancy offering, working at senior management or board level to discuss, plan and execute IT strategy and projects for our customers.
Crystal Palace have used this service for the past 7 years for everything from evaluating new solutions to putting out tenders for new suppliers.
Through the execution of our vCTO service, significant savings can be realised for our customers and Crystal Palace are no exception.  We used our knowledge and skills to deliver projects and source services and equipment at significant savings for Crystal Palace.
The project focus for this case study was the new catering point of sale system.

Customer Requirements  
Crystal Palace had been running an ePOS system in all their food concessions and bars. This system had been changed twice over the course of 6 years but was still running on the same physical tills. The tills had taken a lot of abuse over the years, from being dropped, beer spilt over them / in them, being pressure washed and left out in freezing conditions.  These factors had started to culminate, with the till equipment becoming unreliable with up to 3 units failing during a normal match day service.
In combination, the software vendor for the till system had also gone through a split / management buy out and left their customers making a difficult choice.

As a new head of catering had recently joined the club, our vCTO reached out to her to engage her in the process or replacing the tills and till system.
We created a tender process to enable the club to go to market with several different vendors but also have a robust checking process of evaluating tender submissions to ensure the right system was selected.
Crystal Palace then used our vCTO to negotiate with the suppliers, to reduce costs, include all new equipment, installation and services.  The strategic position and knowledge of the vCTO allowed them to also understand that this system needed to integrate with other 3rd parties to ensure integration across a suite of CPFC’s systems.
The unique value of having a strategy lead vCTO in this instance, meant that the integrations required were all listed as tender requirements and included at no extra cost to CPFC.  The significant savings this has brought to Crystal Palace are in the order of £100,000s over the life of the contract.

Business Driving Factors from the vCTO 
With a major system upgrade such as this, it’s really important to start by understanding the why and what.  By that we mean looking at the business and understanding the key reasons for changing, what makes that change a success and what benefits the business is looking for.

Due to the unique circumstances that till systems are used in a football event, i.e. very high peak usage at half time, it is critically important that the till equipment and system are very reliable.  A failed till at half time can be un-serviceable as it’s almost impossible to move a new till into place through 10,000 fans.  It is estimated that 1 till being unworkable during half time can cost the club as much as £1000 in lost revenue.
We created a spread sheet to capture the business driving factors and create a scoring matrix.  This was split between objective and subjective items with weighting being given to the most important factors to the business.
We also needed to consider costs as a major factor, keeping these to a minimum whilst also seeking the best functionality fit.
There were a lot of different options around till systems, some would run on any equipment, some one specific hardware, some on tablets.  Some systems would allow you to analyse data, understand your customers and acted more like a data warehouse.  It would be easy to think that this is the best option, but there is little value to this service when it’s not your primary business.
That’s where our scoring process came into play, being able to reference and score against the factors that the business needs and wants, ignoring the ‘sold’ benefits that it didn’t.

The following success criteria were defined as a part of the tender process:
– Replacement of the existing ePOS system
– Replacement of all the till hardware
– Embrace new technology to reduce till footprint
– Improve reporting functionality
– Introduce stock handling capabilities
– Ensure system can be extended and the supplier is always innovating
– Improve transaction speed at point of sale
– System is easy to operate and easy to administer

Crystal Palace FC now have a fully functional ePOS system which fulfils all the requirements of the brief.  The favourable terms negotiated with the supplier mean that the new system required little investment from CPFC and could be adopted without adversely effecting the balance sheet of the catering department.
The improvement in speed of service from the enhanced tills has also contributed to an uplift in takings, making a positive contribution to the turnover of the department.
There is reduced downtime, improved support and service for the equipment.  The system is being actively updated and managed by the vendor.
There is also flexibility and innovation from the vendor, tills can run on handheld PAX devices, tablets and now an option for self-service kiosks.

Cost Savings / Business benefit / Value 
The business is no longer required to purchase new till hardware which would have cost around £150,000 (for 120 tills).
The costs have been merged into the operational budget and spread out over the life of the tills. The actual increase in operational costs to pay for all new equipment was only a 20% uplift from the current licence only costs.
Staff now require far less training than on the previous till system and the payment devices are much more reliable and don’t hang up or crash on a regular basis.
Transaction times have also been reduced by 3 to 4 seconds for card payments, with offline payments enabling the club to continue to trade even if the internet is unavailable.

Customer Comment 
“Working with Computer Care helped us identify the best option for our business, the tender process was very thorough and clear.  The end product has improved our service to our customers and increased our number of tills, increase in counter space for our concessions and several other improvements.  The project was delivered on time and on budget, meeting the exact requirements as defined in the project scope.  
I found the whole project was run well, it went smoothly and there were no interruptions to business.  We got all the support we needed and go-live was completely pain free. 
It was a pleasure working with Computer Care.” 

Interested in a vTCO for your business, or need help sourcing equipment. Get in touch with our team.

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