ISOM Students Make Life a Little Easier for All at Mason

Posted: April 30, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Kumar Mehta, assistant professor, Information Systems and Operations Management

If you have recently used a credit card to pay for food or coffee at the Johnson Center (JC), you may have noticed that you did not have to sign a receipt. This small change in business process goes a long way to speeding things up for everyone and saves the food court operators time and money.

School of Management (SOM) Information Systems and Operations Management (ISOM) students David Driegert, Amy Chen, Luis Hernandez and Su Li are responsible for making this difference.

Chien-Yu Chen
Chien-Yu Chen

As part of their Business Process Analysis and Simulation course (OM 435) with Chien-Yu Chen, assistant professor of operations management, these students are looking to improve food court operations. They are studying the food court checkout process and collecting actual data from the peak times of the food service.

These times include how long customers wait in checkout lines, how long the actual checkout takes, and how many customers are serviced. Their initial look at the data showed that credit card payments and cash payments were really slowing down the line. Though they were still in the midst of conducting their study, the evidence was enough for them to suggest a small change to the regional manager of Sodexo, the company that manages Mason’s dining services. The recommendation: Change the business process so customers do not have to sign credit card receipts for purchases under $25.

This change has now been implemented at the JC’s food court and Express convenience store, George’s Restaurant and other Mason food and beverage venues. After completing their evaluation via computer simulation experiments in the software application Extend LT, these ISOM students are going to suggest even a few more innovative ways to improve services at Mason.

Says Alison O’Brien, SOM’s associate dean of undergraduate programs, “I personally appreciate the ease of credit card use on campus, and I’d like to make sure the whole community knows who to thank – ISOM students and Dr. Chen!”

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