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Spa Select Case Study
June 24, 2003
Background and Problem Statement
Under pressure to achieve a 4-star rating from Mobil, the Chief Financial Officer of the
Palm Resort and Club ordered the implementation of a management information system
called Spa Select in the Resort’s spa and salon. Management’s goal for the system was to
enhance customer service by tracking customer history more accurately, improve record
keeping that had been inadequate in the past, and improve organization, particularly at
the customer interface. Successfully reaching these goals should ensure the 4-star rating.
With a time frame of two months to full implementation, Select Systems consultants
would face significant challenges in customizing the system to meet the differing
operational needs of the Resort’s Spa and Salon. Training the staff and management to
become self-sufficient on the system was also a major challenge since these employees
had little to no computer experience. Also, a sizeable fraction of the employee staff did
not speak fluent English.
Analysis of the Problem
In this case, Select Systems was the victim of a poorly planned implementation on the
part of the Palm Resort and Club. The consultants were tested by the following issues:
Time Constraints
The CFO of Palm Resort desired an aggressive implementation of a new system not only
to help the resort get a four-star rating, but also to make up for a year’s worth of
procrastination. He did not want to be held responsible should the resort not meet
Mobil’s criteria. Spa Select had not worked with such a low level of technical expertise,
and two months did not give Spa Select ample time to train the employees, configure, and
test the system.
Stakeholder Input
It is assumed that once the CFO ordered the system, there was little or no communication
with the Spa or Salon about why the system was needed and the benefits it was intended
to bring to the organizations. The management of the Salon and the Spa felt threatened
by the changes that the implementation of a system would bring. Neither the CFO nor
the CIO suggested a change management plan. They did not study successful examples
of other salons or spas where the system had been implemented (such as Paradise Bay
Resort) to try and put a positive spin on the experience. Consequently, there was
reluctance and fear about the system on the part of the Spa management, and outright
rejection from the Salon managers. These feelings trickled down to the employees,
which were then communicated to the customers.
The Spa and Salon were under separate management teams. While the Spa benefited
from full-time, on-site management, the Salon’s manager (a famous stylist from L.A.)
spent only 10 days per month on-site and the assistant manager 5 days. The Spa was
team- and customer-focused, while the Salon was individualistic, focusing on artistic
creation. The executive management of the resort did not step in to insist on full-time,
on-site management at the Salon, which also made system implementation much more
difficult because there was no encouragement of the employees or management direction
on the operational needs of the Salon.
The Spa and Salon both employed manual systems for their scheduling and accounting.
As a result, their staffs had no computer experience. Coupled with language barriers on
the part of some of the spa staff, this posed a huge threat to the success of the project with
respect to the training-readiness of the staff. They needed considerable introductory
training to become accustomed to using a computer before they could be effectively
trained on the Select system. The time constraint did not allow for this introductory
training. Again, this is an example of the company’s executive management ignoring the
needs of another set of stakeholders, the users.
Additionally, customers were not consulted as stakeholders in this process. They had
little knowledge about the system, such as its ability to track customer preferences or the
possibility of a rewards program. Instead they heard negative comments from the staffs
while frustrated themselves over lost reservations and slow service.
Technology Development
The operational structures of the two business segments differed in that the Spa was highvolume and the Salon much lower and at different times of the day. While Select
Systems had a relatively seamless system for spas, their salon system was fairly new.
The consultants would have to tweak the system to meet the business needs of the salon,
such as the protocol for assigning appointments. The time constraint for implementation
of the system did not allow for proper planning for the workflow.
Alternative Solutions
There are several alternative solutions:
Abandon Spa Select and stay with a manual system.
Implement Spa Select, but extend the timeline on the implementation.
Implement Spa Select, but change management structure of Salon.
Implement Spa Select within time constraint and under current management
Criteria to Evaluate Alternatives
Will it meet needs of customers?
Will it meet the needs of executive management (achieve the 4-star rating)?
Will it meet the needs of users?
Will it improve operations?
Will the IS provide value and add to profitability?
Will it meet the desired time frame?
Evaluation of Alternatives
a. Abandon Spa Select and utilize the current system.
Generally speaking, the current system works with no major recurring problems.
However, the manual nature of the current system lends itself to errors with customer
relationship management. The employees also appear disorganized in front of the
customer. The 4-star rating will likely not be achieved unless improvements are made in
customer relationship management, and this alternative is not viable.
b. Implement Spa Select, but extend the timeline on the implementation.
Although the training and implementation of the system took longer than anticipated,
most of the errors encountered were human errors, which indicate further training is
required. These errors could also be stemming from various employees in the
organization being resistant to change. Therefore, the system is suitable for the business
direction they want to head in. Better change management should be included as the
implementation of the system progresses. Personnel issues should be dealt with by
making employee performance ratings include buy-in to the new system.
c. Implement Spa Select, but change management structure of Salon.
Due to the Salon’s transient management team, the Salon employees cannot fend for
themselves. This needs to be corrected, and the Salon’s management must be required to
train people for assuming more responsibility, such as an assistant manager position (s).
It sounds like the Salon’s management and employees are successful in keeping
customers, which is critical to a Salon’s success; however, they need to support the drive
for the 4-star rating. The management structure cannot be changed without losing talent,
but these people must be forced to train and mentor their employees to assume greater
d. Implement Spa Select within time constraint and under current management structure.
A considerable amount of thought must go into training and change management for this
initiative to be successful. There are not enough people in responsible roles to make the
implementation happen in time. Unfortunately, procrastination on the part of executive
management over the years stands in the way of implementing this system within the
timeframe allotted to be considered for the next 4-star ratings review. Therefore, the
system needs to be implemented, but a new timeframe should be carefully planned out to
ensure the next “visit” by Mobil results in the 4-star rating.
Our recommendation is to implement Spa Select with an extended timeframe. The
executive management of the Palm Resort should develop a change management plan,
map out business processes, and provide Spa and Salon staff with introductory computer
training to increase their comfort levels with computers. In addition, the resort should
add an additional assistant manager to the salon so that managerial coverage is provided
at all times.

Spa Select Case Study