The complexity of the foodservice industry has never been greater.

Food costs keep rising faster than operators can raise prices. And consumers' ability to pay higher prices remains suppressed due to a variety of factors such as a stagnant jobs picture, rising healthcare costs and more. Simultaneously, the requirements and expectations on foodservice operators continue to grow. Providing a safe dining environment for customers with food allergies is no longer nice to have but rather a legal imperative for non-commercial operators. Providing food made from locally sourced, fresh ingredients is now the expectation. And navigating the web of local codes for new projects is more challenging than ever.

One would think that during times like these, savvy operators would need to lean on the expertise of their supply chain partners more than ever, particularily during renovations or when building new facilities. Unfortunately, as the foodservice industry becomes more complicated, there seems to be a growing movement to try to cut corners and cut other trading partners out of the mix in an effort to save steps or earn a few points on the back end of a project.

For example, while attending a series of FCSI-The Americas Division Super Regional Events, many foodservice consultants shared stories about a disturbing project management trend that has them drawing up kitchens with little to no contact with operators. It seems as if this approach has emerged out of an overwhelming desire to manage costs.

General contractors will provide designers with some baseline information, such as service style, square footage and a budget, and tell them to develop a foodservice operation that fits those parameters. Designers then ply their trade without knowledge of the menu or operator's future plans for the facility. This approach can be incredibly shortsighted and costly.

Management advisory services consultants now share stories of being hired to identify ways to make completed projects work effectively and efficiently. In some cases, adapting completed projects can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. This can be avoided by looking at a project holistically from the beginning, which includes determining the key pieces of equipment that need to remain part of the equation no matter what.

Managing a project holistically by bringing the operator, architect, design consultant, dealer and others working collaboratively can lead to inspirational outcomes, like the example Colorado State University provides.

That brings to mind a lesson Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Rob "Waldo" Waldman shared with those attending the CFESA Fall 2013 Conference in New Orleans. Waldo's mother taught him and his brother the importance of doing a job right the first time. Given that compressed margins, budgets and time frames are now standard operating procedure in the foodservice industry, all supply chain partners would be wise to heed that advice, given the financial implications of not doing so.