Some General Questions Answered
Yes, we are an Application Service Provider (ASP) and CATERMAN is delivered by internet which saves you from any software costs (other than your standard PC software), updating, maintenance, backing-up, etc.
CATERMAN uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) the same as on-line banking. The data is kept in encrypted form on servers providing no internet services. The exact physical location of the servers is unknown even to us, they are in internet "hotels" provided by major companies. Access to CATERMAN is via a number of portals, which can be switched rapidly to defeat Denial of Service (DOS) attacks if necessary.
If internet payments for meals by parents/guardians are allowed, it is your bank account, not ours, that is used, and no money can be taken from accounts except by you.
You need to look after your passwords as for any system. CATERMAN provides several extra safeguards, such as advising you that any higher-level password should be linked to a partcular IP address or range of IP addresses so that it can only be used from a particular PC or school. Certain data such as pictures of account holders (pupils) should be kept locally with no permission granted for access except within the school lan.
Standard CATERMAN supports any PC keyboard including ones with hundreds of keys with price look-up (PLU) facilities. Touchscreens are supported, and any known accessories for identification of account holder such as stripe cards, RFID tags, barcodes, biometrics, etc. providing they interface with the browser for input to a field (all the ones we have seen do this as for keyboard input). You can attach a cash drawer, but you should be removing cash handling from the catering environment.
Once you have a CATERMAN account, the charge will not increase. We plan that it will decrease as computers become cheaper and more powerful! As for performance, we can add computers as application and data servers at any time, and because you do not pay for the system up front we must keep you satisfied or you will go to one of our competitors (many companies are developing systems to be delivered by internet, legacy multi-user systems based on in-house computers are becoming obsolete).
There is no known limit, but standard CATERMAN supports upto 10000 users on any one account. CATERMAN can work on a one-school per account basis, but there are obvious economies and advantages from, say, all the schools in a LEA running under one account administered by the LEA - for example, standard recipes, gathering of statistics, free school meal allowance administration by the LEA rather than the school, a centralised pool of experience, and so on.
We provide support to account holders for CATERMAN specific problems via e-mail only. We do not support general IT queries such as PC and software problems, internet access, and general computing queries - such support is available from BT at £10 per month per PC, or from PCWorld, etc.
Like every commercial organisation on the internet, we are subjected to a flood of SPAM. We are organised to support our account holders, and have limited resources available to handle general queries. Please be patient and we will eventually answer - unless your question is covered above.
It is sometimes difficult to get objective IT opinions from established hierarchies with vested interests in supporting expensive IT empires, especially in situations where the more IT costs, the bigger the budget and therefore the higher the status of those who spend it. We can only repeat our figures yet again, and draw your attention to Typical 1000-user system which shows you how we do it.
Comparing CATERMAN with legacy Cashless Payment Systems.