Not an unfair question as when I meet with a Mountain Ops VP or Manager we talk about MountainOffice or LiftShack. The same question extends to lift maintenance managers, vehicle maintenance managers, snowmaking managers and patrol directors.
Many ask that question in terms of dollars which is certainly fair given that many ski resort departmental managers are under constant pressure to lower costs, not add costs. I fully understand this view and have experience subscribing to the mandate. However, I would argue that taking this view you often miss the opportunity that exists for you, your team and your ski resort to improve and be better. Continuous performance improvement, while being a whole management methodology, in its simplest form, is really quite straightforward in its basis. Whatever I am doing I can always do it better.
Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines fame says it so insightfully; “If you don’t change, you die. If things change faster outside your company than they change inside your company, then you have something to worry about.”
So what does MountainOffice or LiftShack do for you? Yes, it has cost associated with making the decision to install, the purchase and the resources to convert to the systems. Like any tool it will only serve you well and provide something for you and your ski resort if you use it. What does that take and look like?
The first point I would make to a management team is that there has to be solid buy-in to improve the maintenance process, having accountability for maintenance, and wanting to be outstanding at what you do. These are basic objectives but if there isn’t total buy-in from leadership with whatever system you use, there will not be any performance improvement. Basically what’s in for me question comes back to what are you willing to put in from your end. Just making the purchase doesn’t solve any problem regardless of the ROI analysis. You have to see the goal line and be willing to grind it out, long throws maybe possible, but mostly it is short yardage gains, step by step.
The most common question I am asked is: “What will it take me to get MountainOffice set up?” This has multiple answers, but first some questions have to be asked:
What do you have now for maintenance records and work orders? Is your work process and flow well thought out and organized?
Do you have an administrator who is managing your existing maintenance and inventory system?
You can pay Steep Management to build your database – cost is dependent on type and number of lifts and number of vehicles/equipment. Steep is happy to offer this option and more than willing to do it but it slows you down on the learning curve and adds cost.
If you have a strong paper system or electronic system such as Excel spreadsheets, the conversion is really easy and straight forward. Work Orders to be built for a detach lift, take about 3-4 hours to complete a full year’s worth of maintenance schedules. A strong point of the system is that once a lift is built, many parts of a schedule or schedules can be utilized for other lifts. The most time consuming task is building the line profile, towers, carriers and grips. The system provides a duplicating function to alleviate parts of this process but where there are unique features such as NDT cycles, and maybe marriage of a grips and hangers, certain features have to be done individually.
If you add a strong administrator to the above situation you can have your whole lift system built in a couple of days including inventory.
For LiftShack the setup is much quicker, as we do some preload such as trail map, and we train you how to build your own forms and, as above, if you already have those in place the setup is much quicker. Within a day or two a mid to large scale resort can be using LiftShack in their daily operation.
During the install process the WIIFM question can be viewed as a time where you and your team take a hard look at how you are doing what you do, and scrutinize it to find improvements that will make the team more productive. A process which I believe should happen whether installing a system or not.
Additional WIIFM benefits are that the staff will respond positively to the improved information flow and the feedback process. They can be held accountable in a much more objective manner enabling you to give more constructive feedback that moves the continuous improvement process forward.
If you are not the sole decision maker, there may be others who have a different perspective relative to the WIIFM question. The numbers people want to know the ROI, IT folks want to know how do adding these systems impact our network, system security and their workload, and GM/CEO might want to know all of the above. Steep Management is well prepared to add to this discussion and address all those various areas of concern. To all I’d offer productivity enhancement and performance improvement are attributes that should be constantly sought, enabling the front line staff to do their work more easily, productively, with accountability is the responsibility of every manager.
Give Steep Management a call, we are happy to assist you in making the best decision for you, your team and your resort.