15 months in coding, 4 months to finish the pilot testing, and 1 extra month for a performance test. Then, it took us only 98 days to fully deploy the new hospitality management solution – CiHMS for all 35 hotel properties of our customer. Those hotels were not merely city hotels, but also included large luxury hotel chains and resorts consisting of 1000+ rooms, integrated with safaris, and entertainment complexes. Even the experts we sought for consultancy service at the time would suggest that 21 weeks were the minimum timeframe to have the system up and running for each hotel. What we achieved was hand-down an unbeatable record.
The reality check
Even though 5 months of pilot testing and performance tests weren’t smooth sailings, it did not seem somewhat impossible to us compared to the actual deployment phase. The thought of getting closer to the date still sent the shivers down our spines. Our team couldn’t manage to keep their eyes off the screen throughout the entire process. How? Here are why:
1. The existing on-premise system that our customers used at the time was ranked as one of the most detailed and complicated PMS in the world. The PMS was installed separately in each property of the customer with a decentralized database, giving the customers headaches and challenges in reports system and operations which we mentioned in the very first blog of this series (You can look this up at “Buy or Build your own Hospitality Management Solutions” blog). That also meant we had to migrate data, validate and “centralize” them ready to use for the customers. Tricky yet?
2. The total number of rooms was over 14,000 rooms at the time. We have more than 10 hotel properties with over 500+ rooms. There were a lot of rooms to be recorded!
3. Our customers owned a diversification of hotel models: city hotels, condotels, luxury hotels, resorts, destination resorts integrated with amusement parks & safari, etc… Each of them has various configurations and settings.
4. The customers were using various integrated solutions with the existing PMS: Housekeeping, Room Rate Management, Transportation Management, Laundry, Mobilities, Booking Portal, FnB, etc. Ensuring the flawless integration to keep our customer business operations ongoing was our top priority.
5. The hotel SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and the software implementation procedure at each property were not consistent or standardized. This meant thorough training had to be done, otherwise, there would be a possibility of inconsistent data entry.
6. We committed to our own deadline for a complete migration to the new hospitality management solution – CiHMS before December 31, 2020. We started on July 31st, with approximately 5 months left to the finished date. The clock was ticking, and we didn’t have that much time to afford mistakes. The pressure was real!
The ultimate strategic plan
Challenges seemed to be our friend. Working with a deadline for this particular project felt like we were fighting an uphill battle. To meet the deadline and make sure we did not miss out on any of the “challenges”, a strategic plan to keep us up on our feet was a necessity. First, we had to develop a successive training and implementation plan based on hotel business models, revenue, and regions. This helped optimizing expenses and human resources at sites.
Second, we arranged and reallocated our human resources adequately to train the customers’ employees efficiently. Coordinating with back-at-the-office development teams and the on-site teams to solve unexpected technical occurrences through Jira, online checklist, etc. while the implementation process took place.
Last but not least, the training materials and practices were categorized depending on software modules and hotel processes’ purpose. This allowed the customer’s employees to actively be in charge of their training courses, choosing which courses would fit their department work’s scope. From those training materials, the employees could later re-train their new staff or run practice workshops on their own. We were exceptionally determined. The only thing on our minds at the time was our deadline.
The deployment mode: ON
We had a few on-site teams responsible for installing the PMS at the customer’s property, training the employee on how to use the software properly, and reporting back to the in-house team if any unexpected failure bugs, issues arose. During the deployment phase, we had noticed the general timeline of deployment at each property would be roughly around 17 days:
- 2 days for validating migrated data to ensure data quality after the migration. No data is left behind, misplaced, or corrupted.
- 12 days for training CiHMS and the integration process.
- 3 to 4 days for the system to go live after getting the approved User Acceptance Test (performed by the end-user to validate that all features are working as expected).
If we waited ‘till the team finished with deployment at a property then moved to the next, it would take us almost 2 years. We ended up doing both the on-site training for customer employees and cutting off the existing on-premise PMS software to go live with the new hospitality management solution – CiHMS simultaneously.
Our on-site teams had to travel a lot, especially on the weekend to cut down the travel and commuting time among hotel properties. Multiple on-site teams were working on different properties at the same time. This made the cutting-off from the existing on-premise PMS and going live with the new hospitality management solutions easier for multiple locations on the same day. Our in-house development teams were always in ready mode to provide 24/7 support. Kudos went to the amazing CiHMS developers and their capabilities in quickly detecting the issues, fixing, patching, and moving on to the next one restlessly. Mostly found was the excitement in figuring out the solutions, the overjoy while closing the issues, and the appreciation among team members at the end of any completed deployment at each property.
As CiHMS was successfully live at the last location, it was already December 30th, 2020. That was exactly one day before the deadline. Needless to say, we were over the moon! This success did not define us, instead, it has gained us the confidence to open new doors for our hospitality management solution to explore and challenge. The project for our customer might have ended here but was only the start for us.
We have learned so much throughout the process and we are proud of what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will become. CiHMS has the full potential that we have not unlocked yet with you here. In the upcoming blog, we will be revealing our hospitality management solution – CiHMS features as well as its future plan with you. Meanwhile, don’t forget to like our blog and spread the word with your friends on our journey of building the hospitality management solution – CiHMS.