Meals on Wheels of San Francisco will be able to reach more people than ever before this Thanksgiving. See how an ERP developed by My Office Apps and built on Progress OpenEdge helped them help thousands more.
When we think of Meals on Wheels, we think of homebound senior citizens getting important nutrition they otherwise would go without. But it’s even more than that. Meals on Wheels provides a friendly face and a much-needed check-in to break up the isolation and make sure that everything is OK.
Today, that friendly face is behind a mask, and the challenges of hunger and solitude are even steeper as the COVID-19 pandemic surges into the holidays and winter months.
But what if this Thanksgiving things could improve? What if technology could help stem the tide of illness, hunger and loneliness by making it easier to deliver on the promise that a volunteer’s eager knock is still coming, and help is on the way?
That’s exactly what My Office Apps (MOA) is providing for Meals on Wheels of San Francisco with its Kechie ERP. Meals on Wheels San Francisco, founded in 1970, delivers more than 2 million meals a year, and volunteers deliver bags of groceries to about 500 seniors weekly as part of their Home-Delivered Groceries program, a collaboration between Meals on Wheels San Francisco and the SF-Marin Food Bank. San Francisco is second only to New York City for the highest cost of living among U.S. cities.
With turnover and volunteers, the software has to be accurate and easy to use so no one falls through the cracks. Lives depend on it.
“With our new kitchen and food production facility, we want to assure that our capacity to produce up to 30,000 meals a day to be delivered to thousands of homebound seniors living in San Francisco, is supported by a user-friendly, procurement and inventory management tool that is robust and scalable,” said Frank Scott, director of fleet and facilities for Meals on Wheels San Francisco. “The Kechie software solution will allow us to monitor our end-to-end supply chain management from procurement, inventory and tracking, to the end destination, which is into the refrigerators of our meals recipients.”
Scott said the software helps track food costs and expiration dates more effectively, which reduces food loss, and gives the nonprofit the flexibility to create new combinations of meals at the branch's $41 million kitchen.
“That means our clients will receive more variety in their nourishment options, allowing them to maintain their health and live independently in their homes,” he said.
MOA has also been enlisted by Meals on Wheels in Western Michigan now to help transform their delivery as well.
Kechie is a fully integrated ERP software as a service (SaaS) platform with a simplified user experience utilizing the latest cloud technology. Its straightforward user interface (UI) makes it possible to train new users quickly, said Mariam Komeili, the co-founder and CEO of MOA. Kechie is available as individual software packages including inventory and warehouse management (CRM, sales, procurement, logistics included), manufacturing, finance, or a fully configured ERP system to integrate all of those individual modules.
“The way the software has been designed, once you use one module or one screen—all the other modules are built the same way with similar look and feel—so when you learn something in one module, you’re learning the entire software,” Mariam Komeili said. “All the screens operate the same way . It’s easy to add, edit, save and generate tons of reports. That’s the other thing, we’re not a disjointed platform that requires consultants to implement even basic functions, we’re a software that’s ready to go. You don’t need to build on top of Kechie, it’s ready. Whatever reports the clients are looking for are already there and available, in every module. So, it’s been designed from the beginning to be very, very user-friendly.”
MOA Chief Technology Officer and founder Mehrdad Komeili has been using Progress OpenEdge since 1993. MOA relies on OpenEdge, an integrated development environment to build high-performance business critical applications, to ensure the high performance and reliability of Kechie.
“Our clients need simplicity, but also a powerful, consistent solution,” he said. “And Progress OpenEdge has given us the speed and response time, no matter how big the database gets, how many users, or how high the transaction rate and we’re talking OpenEdge, there is no downtime.”
Mehrdad Komeili described MOA’s approach as a solution providers who work closely with their clients.
“We’re not just selling software and walking away,” he said. “My belief is that when you are giving somebody a solution, you must show the person how it is used, and how to get the best benefit. No matter how good the software is, it will just sit there and collect dust, if it’s not understood how it is used in their environment. And because of that, we really get involved in understanding their business to make sure they know all the different usages so they can get the full benefit out of Kechie.”
Because MOA builds in internal processes to ensure they map the systems for the highest productivity and ease of use, MOA and Meals on Wheels can become long-term partners in spite of the fact that many short-term volunteers will use the software. Turnover is all but nullified by process and precision.
In addition to the project with Meals on Wheels, MOA created Supply Catcher, a stand-alone product to help farmers as well. Although Supply Catcher isn’t related to Kechie, it builds on the idea of getting food to people in need and it aims to cut back on food waste.
Shortly after the COVID-19 shutdowns started, MOA heard that many farmers had an abundance of supply and suddenly a greatly reduced demand as restaurants closed. The result was rotting food and farmers using what would normally feed people as fertilizer, or even pouring spoiled milk down the drain.
Governors in California and New York were astonished at the waste—especially at a time when because of the economic shockwaves, families were struggling with food insecurity.
My Office Apps hopes to release Supply Catcher soon to help reroute supplies to where the demand is—food banks and other nonprofit organizations.
The idea is to create a network searchable by zip code so the app can create a bridge between the farmers who have the supply with the people who need it.
During the pandemic and even beyond, the service could also help supply personal protective equipment, masks and medical supplies.
“No matter how long COVID lasts, we could use a tool like this long after. It could be used anywhere in the world to connect supply with demand if there’s an earthquake or natural disaster or the unforeseen,” Mehrdad Komeili said.
MOA is developing a free portal so anyone can use it. Several food banks have expressed interest, he said.
“Listen, a farmer has a phone and he cannot sit behind a computer all day. We’re creating a mobile-friendly UI and a tool to help. That’s why we approached Progress,” Mehrdad Komeili said.
MOA is hoping to unveil the mobile app by the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter of 2021.
MOA’s founders said they use OpenEdge because it provides the best value.
“When I was a CIO of a very large company, there was a roundtable CIO gathering in San Diego. And I was chitchatting with a speaker at a conference and about 10 other CIOs. They were all complaining about Oracle and SAP, and they were sharing horror stories about them. So, I turned to one of them next to me and said, ‘Why don’t you change it?’ And he said, ‘I have no choice. If I don’t use Oracle, I have to use SAP, which is worse. And what will I do? I spent millions on Oracle. I’m not going to throw it all out the window and get another tool that is going to be more expensive and less user-friendly,’” Mehrdad Komeili said. “My people—at the time, we had offices in Malaysia, Taiwan, India, the U.S., and Glasgow, in the U.K—and my people loved what they were using. And it was all built on Progress technology.”
Other solutions break when there’s a high volume of transactions. MOA has had clients who are filling 100,000 transactions, they said.
“We’ve never had to worry about OpenEdge. I have friends who use competitors who need around-the-clock monitoring,” Mehrdad Komeili said.
And even more than that, Progress has provided special services and expertise to help MOA get things done.
“When we need a solution or we need help, Progress is there,” Mariam Komeili said. “How Progress supports their partners is a strength that you bring to us.”
“As soon as I had the idea for the mobile app, Progress Services was ready to help,” Mehrdad Komeili said.
As part of our ongoing support of COVID-19 relief and our larger charitable giving campaign, Progress has donated $5,000 to Meals on Wheels of San Francisco. With the average cost of producing and delivering a meal being around $7 for Meals on Wheels, the donation could feed more than 700 people this Thanksgiving.
My Office Apps will continue to expand its work with Meals on Wheels in San Francisco, Western Michigan and other areas. For more information about My Office Apps, check out their website.
We will check back with Meals on Wheels and MOA soon to see how things went this Thanksgiving and during the holiday season.
In the meantime, please consider making a donation this holiday season or volunteering if you can. Because as good as technology is, there’s no substitute for a friendly face. Even if it’s behind a mask.
Dave Pierce was the employer brand manager for Progress.
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