McDonalds IT to go on diet

McDonalds' IT department will slim down in the next few months as the fast food chain's New Zealand operation finishes off several projects.

McDonalds’ IT department will slim down in the next few months as the fast food chain’s New Zealand operation finishes off several projects.

A local spokesman for McDonalds NZ, Liam Jeory, says the company will, “over time”, be downsizing its IT department.

Jeory wouldn’t be specific about numbers, either those currently employed or those likely to go, but says McDonalds is “working to a regional basis when it comes to IT”, streamlining each countries’ systems.

The likely job losses come on the heels of several IT projects at McDonalds NZ. It’s soon to go live with a Telecom-provided wide area network, which will link all its restaurants across the country.

The long-term aim is to run company-wide applications across a virtual private network, but more immediate aims include trialling Eftpos transactions across the IP network and data collection.

Hooking restaurants up to the company intranet is another goal, as is setting up point of sale PC-based registers so temporary specials and promotions can be loaded centrally.

“When we have new products and promotions, they have to be set up at each restaurant, which is labour-intensive and prone to error,” says information services manager Peter van Dyk (pictured). “We want to able to do it from a central point.”

McDonalds is also looking at an electronic invoicing system, to replace the present paper-based one, but it’s still at the stage of talking to vendors and no decision has been made, says van Dyk, who declined to discuss the possibility of redundancies.

McDonalds installed a wireless LAN at its Auckland headquarters in November which van Dyk says is working well. It came about when the company rebuilt its national headquarters, he says.

“We rebuilt on the same site and decided to make the new building wireless, because at McDonalds there’s been a lot of internal configuration, moves and changes and we’d spent a lot of money on cabling.”

It’s not just a wireless LAN; voice is wireless too, though it’s still analogue, on a system provided by Pyxis. “We bought their executive industry centre solution, a communication server that sits on your LAN. On the desktop, there’s a combination of soft phone and handset capability.”

Ericsson’s digital cordless telephony system is used to link the handset wirelessly to the PABX, he says.

“It works the same way as wireless LANs — it’s the voice equivalent of an access point, with phones connected back, wired, to the computer room.”

The range has been set at 200m, though it can go further than that and the return on investment is being seen already, van Dyk says.

“The cost of getting wireless cards for the desktop has paid for itself. One department had a new configuration and we didn’t have to pay for [a wired configuration], it was just a case of moving desks around.”

The data side of the LAN was provided integrated by Portables Plus, using Cisco equipment and McDonalds decided not to rely on the in-built WEP (wired equivalent privacy) that comes with Wi-Fi equipment.

“We use third-party security, BlueSocket, because we didn’t want to rely on WEP and LEAP [Cisco’s light extensible authentication protocol], as they weren’t very mature at the time.”

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