Some General Questions Answered


  1. Does CATERMAN always need internet connection?

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.

  1. If it is on the internet, is it vulnerable to hackers?

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.

  1. Can internet meal payments be stolen?

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.

  1. What's to stop someone with a stolen password accessing CATERMAN?

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.

  1. Will CATERMAN support large keyboards, touchscreens, etc.

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.

  1. Will the charge for CATERMAN suddenly increase, or performance decline?

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).

  1. How many users/schools can run on one CATERMAN account?

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.

  1. How is CATERMAN supported?

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.

  1. Why was there no reply to my e-mail?

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.

  1. Our IT department say that CATERMAN is too cheap to be any good, and do not believe your quote of less than 30,000 for a 1000-user in-house system.

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.

  1. CATERMAN requires only standard readily-available PC equipment, not expensive proprietary dedicated EPOS terminals. If a PC breaks down, simply use another one.
  2. You can use CATERMAN anywhere for anything requiring payment from an account, not just catering.
  3. No maintenance is required, no data back-up, no upgrades.
  4. No big up-front outlay.
  5. Account holder identification by many options, including existing stripe cards (you can ask pupils to bring an old credit card, that will do fine as long as it has a unique number), a bar code printed on a piece of card with their photograph, an RFID tag (any ISO high-frequency tag will do, they are all unique!),or any combination and mix of methods, plus alphamatching on their name, or direct entry of a pupil number. Some systems require the issue of special cards costing 4 each if a pupil loses a card! You could simply print their photograph and their pupil number in barcode form on a card and charge them 10 pence!
  6. Paying for school meals is a chore for you and your pupils. Internet payments are provided by CATERMAN but only some parents will use this method at present. Why not install a couple of robust, proven parking ticket machines that issue numbered or bar-coded vouchers (tickets)? Pupils can present the voucher/ticket to the CATERMAN EPOS operator, and CATERMAN records and cancels it, adding the value to the holder account.
  7. Mix and match the account holder identification methods and payment methods to meet your requirements. Use CATERMAN simply to handle a "school meal" or as a sophisticated system with detailed recipes showing nutrition values, etc., with internet-browsable menus, account display, etc. You choose!