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Saskatchewan Provincial Park Campsite Management

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Saskatchewan Provincial Park has experienced increased customer satisfaction due to improvements made to park programming and infrastructure. With the rising demand in campsites, Mathisa Curhane, who is the manager of visitor services; felt the immediate need to improve the current information technology system. The present system suffers from many significant issues such as inefficient operational process and lack of quality data. Park Services subsequently implemented temporary solutions to address these issues but the fundamental problems remained intact.

This report evaluated several alternatives with regards to their positive impacts on the identified issues. These alternatives include an internally built system, customization of the existing systems used by other provinces, third party service providers, off-the-shelf packages and lastly keep the system as the way it is. Through comprehensive research and analysis, it was recommended that Park Services should contact external vendors and customize other provinces systems to its unique needs. Implementation plan is created to ensure the initiative is completed on time for the new season and to manage the ongoing operation of the system. The contingency plan conveys the procedure taken if the Deputy Minister does not approve the budget or if the new system turns out to be a disaster. Cost associated with the implementation of the new system is also included in this report. The initial setup and the ongoing maintenance of the system are taken into consideration.

The successful employment of the customized reservation system will lay the foundation for improved services for campers and enhance the reputation for Park Services. Introduction

Saskatchewan Park Services (Park Services) had experienced many difficulties with its campground reservation system throughout the years. Although several initiatives were taken to address the issues surrounding the reservation system, none provided permanent solutions. Hence, Park Services has been vulnerable to various risks and operational problems. This case report analyzes the key issues, evaluates alternatives, and provides an implementation plan for the recommended solutions. Key Issues

Lack of Quality Data

Quality data is required to generate insightful results regarding the operation of the park reservation services. Data mining could help the park management to understand client behaviors and predict trends in the future. Nevertheless, since there is no centralized database, client information could potentially exist in multiple ROS databases at various parks. Other data quality issues include missing fields, fake data entries and duplicate records. This issue is of high importance and low urgency because insights about campers will give Park Services a competitive advantage; however, this issue does not have immediate impacts on the daily operation of the reservation system. Inefficient Operational Processes

The Online Reservation Administration System (ORAS) allowed clients to make reservation requests online, however the park staff still had to access the ORAS database to retrieve and enter requests into the appropriate campground Reservation Operating System (ROS). Furthermore, the park staff has to contact the clients regarding the status of their requests and advise the clients to make payments online through ORAS. The park staffs essentially act as the bridge connecting ORAS, ROS and the clients; therefore, the current process is extremely labor intensive and time consuming. This issue is of high importance and urgency as it directly impacts customer satisfaction and royalty. Information Technology System Limitations

Bugs were discovered in the Online Reservation Administration System (ORAS). Clients were receiving error messages and ORAS was forced to shut down until the bugs were resolved. Due to geographical constraints, network connectivity was poor between provincial park computers or among campsites within certain parks. Hence, a central server could not be engaged and furthermore, additional features of the Reservation Operating System (ROS) could not be explored. As a direct result of these limitations, client satisfaction was severely reduced; therefore, this issue is of high importance and urgency. Decentralization

As a consequence of the telecommunication limitations, campsite management was highly decentralized and the park personnel with the most intimate knowledge of the specific campground were often responsible for decision-making. This issue is given high importance and low urgency because centralization could improve the operation; nevertheless, this will be a long-term initiative.

Issues Ranking



Lack of quality data

Information Technology System Limitations
Inefficient Operational Processes
Figure A: Urgency and Importance Ranking of the Key Issues
SWOT Analysis

Positive visitor feedbacks (82% in 2009)
High park user rates (3.3 million visits in 2009)
Knowledgeable park staff

Decentralized operation due to poor network connectivity
Present reservation system is outdated and unreliable compared to other province park services’ systems Labor intensive reservation and payment processing
Lack of quality data for data mining
Lack of centralized database
Increased internet usage and demand for the online reservation system results in a bigger customer base A more robust and efficient online reservation system will cut down processing time and attract more customers Better quality data will result in improved operation and marketing campaigns Potential new compliance standards set by the PCI

Natural disasters may steer campers away from the camp sites Improvements in the park services of other provinces may reduce the number of the out-of-province visitors

Figure B: SWOT Analysis

Porter’s Five Force

Power of Customers
The power of customers is relatively weak because the buyers are not
concentrated, the switching costs are high if a customer chooses to go to another province for camping, and there are not many substitutes available. Power of Suppliers

Since Saskatchewan Park Services does not heavily rely on any specific supplier for the survival of its ongoing operations, the power of suppliers is low. Threat of New Entrants
The initial setup cost for camping sites is extremely high and there are many government regulations in this industry. Hence the threat of new entrants is very low. Threat of Substitutes
The substitutes consist of camping sites in undesignated areas as well as in other provinces. The threat is low due exceptional services offered by campsites and the high switching cost to visit another province. Industry Rivalry

In the provincial park camping industry, the competition is moderate because there are only a few players in this space and the industry is disciplined due to formal collaboration schemes created by the provincial governments.


Political Factors
There are environmental regulations with regards to the number of campsites built and the activities allowed on campsites. Park Services management team also face funding constraints when new initiatives need to be launched. Economic Factors

The Canadian economy is quite robust with steady growth and no sign of major upcoming recession. The consumers are increasing their spending (Canada Consumer Spending, 2013) and interest rates are low to encourage more spending. The overall economic condition of Canada benefits the ongoing operation of Park Services. Social Factors

There is a growing emphasis on healthy lifestyles due to the alarming obesity rates and increasing work stress. Therefore many Canadians are seeking weekend getaways in provincial parks to recollect their thoughts and reduce their stress levels. Technological Factors

The Information Technology industry is constantly improving its capabilities. It is increasingly cheaper to acquire a new reservation system with more functionalities, operational effectiveness and reliability. Quantitative Analysis

The current reservation process includes many options such as mail, phone, fax or online. The online portion has been increasing drastically from 9.8% in 2007 to 40.3% in 2010, this upward trend is expected to continue given the historical data.

The customer satisfaction level increased tremendously from 2006 to 2008 mainly because improvements were made to park programming and infrastructure. More campsites were developed and electrical services were added to approximately 600 campsites.

The increased customer satisfaction and demand for online reservations places more emphasis on the operational efficiency of the reservation system. Hence an alternative to the current issue-prone IT system is required.

Reservations made
January 1
January 1 – February 1, inclusive
January 1 – March 1, inclusive
Online Reservation Percentage
Figure C: Online Reservation Quantitative Analysis (Haggerty, 2011)

Figure D: Statistics on Satisfaction with Saskatchewan Provincial Park Visitors. Source: Park, Culture and Sport 2012-13 Annual Report (Gallagher, 2013) Alternatives
Alternative 1 – Internally Built System
Pros: Park Services would have more significant control over the development of the system, access to excellent programmers and ongoing IT support, and furthermore, avoid ongoing software licensing fees. Cons: ITO currently does not accept the proposal. Even if ITO agrees to development the system, the development time may be long and there could be bugs with the new system. Alternative 2 – Tailoring Other Provinces’ IT System

Pros: Park Services could purchase an IT system for a dollar according to the interprovincial government IT agreements, hence the up front development cost is eliminated. The reservation systems from other provinces were already tested and successfully implemented; therefore, Park Services do not have to worry about system deployment issues. Cons: The system tailoring cost amounts to $1 million and there will be ongoing upgrade costs. Park Services have no control over the development of the system.

Alternative 3 – Third Party Service Provider
Pros: Park Services do not have to devote time and resources to the development and maintenance of a reservation system. Cons: Park services will have to sign a 5-10 years contract and the reservation fee is quite high ($10), hence the yearly fee paid to the third party service provider can easily cost quarter of a million dollars according to the total reservation made data. Additionally, Park Services must rely on external support for any potential issues with the system. Alternative 4 – Off-the-shelf System Packages

Pros: The initial cost of off-the-shelf packages is relatively cheap and these packages are proven to be useful in the industry. They are also ready to be modified and the development time is short. Cons: There may be annual licensing fees, multi-year agreements and possibly a fee for each reservation made; hence, the ongoing maintenance and enhancement costs may be high. Alternative 5 – Do nothing

Pros: There will not be any additional costs incurred. There is no risk encountering deployment and implementation issues. Cons: Existing issues such as poor data quality, decentralization and labor intensive processes will continue. Recommendations

The five alternative solutions were analyzed against the key issues previously identified. Weights were assigned to each issue depending on its level of urgency and importance. The IT system limitation issue has the most weight because it negatively impacts customer satisfaction and retention. The inefficient operational processes reduces the profitability of the park, hence it is given a weight of 0.3. The lack of quality data has a more strategic importance but it is not affecting the daily operation, therefore a weight of 0.2 was assigned. Finally, decentralization is a long-term organizational issue and is less essential than the other three, thus it received a weight of 0.1. Each alternative is given a score out of five; five represents the most positive impact whereas one signifies the least positive change. A decision matrix was created to determine the most suitable alternative.

Tailoring other provinces’ IT system was selected as the appropriate alternative because it best addresses all the identified issues. The data will be of high quality since the Park Services managers can work with external developers to identify the fields required in data and build internal system controls to avoid inaccurate data. Since this customized system would replace both ORAS and ROS, the manual data and payment processing will be eliminated. The system will be designed so that the customers can view the real time availabilities of the campsites instead of relying on park personnel to check the availability. The ongoing maintenance and enhancement of the system will increase the reliability as well as expand the functionalities of the system. Lastly, this system can be operated from a centralized location, thus increasing the accountability and overall coordination of the reservation process. Some of the remote campsites will rely on manual booking due to the underlying lack of infrastructure. Implementation & Action Plan

The implementation plan is divided into four major phases: selection, development, transition & deployment, and evaluation & support. The target is to have the system deployed by February 2, 2011. This date is chosen due to the high reservation demand in the month of January and therefore it is too risky to deploy the new system. Phase 1 requires the Park Services management team to perform extensive researches on the existing vendors and products and once a potential candidate is selected, the management team must develop project proposals and management plans to submit to the Ministry of Tourism for approval and funding. If the proposal is accepted, the vendor will be contacted and phase 2 will begin, otherwise, the contingency plan will be implemented. During phase 2, the requirements and constraints for the reservation system will be collected and documented.

Furthermore, the system will be developed by the vendor and iteratively tested to eliminate bugs. Phase 3 of the plan consists of training the two newly hired IT support staff, launching a marketing campaign to inform the customers about the new reservation system as well as creating a comprehensive deployment plan. Additionally, the vendor will transfer and convert the data from ORAS and ROS to the new system. Phase 4 involves the ongoing support, upgrade and evaluation of the newly implemented system. The management team will launch surveys to acquire feedbacks from the customers and initiate focus groups to assess the operational efficiency of the system. The vendor will provide maintenance and enhancements at the going rates.

Phase 1 – Selection (Sept 1 – Oct 2, 2010)

Required Action
Target Date
Parties Involved
Research existing products and suppliers
Sep 1 – Sep 8
Park Services management team
Develop project proposal and project management plan
Sep 9 – Sep 16
Park Services management team
Develop budget analysis, risk management plan and scope definitions Sep 9 – Sep 16
Park Services management team
Obtain approval from the Ministry of Tourism
Sep 17 – Oct 1
Ministry personnel
Select supplier or implement contingency plan
Oct 2
Park Services management team
Phase 2 – Development (Oct 3 – Nov 30, 2010)

Required Action
Target Date
Parties Involved
Identify data requirements
Oct 3 – Oct 6
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Analyze end-user requirements
Oct 3 – Oct 6
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Define the functionalities of the system
Oct 3 – Oct 6
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Define the constraints of the system
Oct 3 – Oct 6
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Create a system design document and a functional requirements document Oct 7 – Oct 10
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Develop the customized system
Oct 10 – Nov 20
IT system vendor
Iteratively test the system, fix the identified bugs
Nov 21- Nov 30
IT system vendor

Phase 3 – Transition & Deployment (Dec 1 – Dec 31, 2010)

Required Action
Target Date
Parties Involved
Inform customers of a new reservation system
Dec 1 – Dec 31
Park Services management team
Provide training to park personnel
Dec 1 – Dec 8
IT system vendor
Create a deployment plan and a system conversion plan
Dec 1 – Dec 8
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Data transfer and mapping from the old system to the new one Dec 9 – Dec 31
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Identify bugs and fix the issues
Jan 2 – Feb 2
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Phase 4 – Evaluation & Support (Ongoing)

Required Action
Target Date
Parties Involved
Post-implementation review regarding the operational efficiency of the new system Feb 2 – Feb 21
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Monitor system usage and acquire customer feedbacks
Park Services management team
IT system vendor
Ongoing support, upgrade and maintenance of the system
IT system vendor

Anticipated Cost of Implementation
The initial development cost is only one dollar due to the co-ownership option outlined in the interprovincial government IT agreement. Nevertheless, the expected customization cost is $1 million. The ongoing support and enhancement cost for IT system often form 75% of the total cost of ownership (Software Maintenance Cost, 2013), which indicates that the maintenance cost will total $3 million. It is safe to assume that the reservation system will be used for the next thirty years; hence, the yearly support and enhancement cost is estimated to be $100,000. In addition to maintenance, approximately two IT workers need to be hired to provide ongoing support to system issues as well as customer inquiries. The vendor will provide training to these two IT professionals regarding the system features and potential issues. The annual salary for each IT worker is estimated to be $70,000. Contingency Plan

Scenario 1 – Budget not approved or no supplier can meet budget and functional requirements It is quite likely that the Ministry of Tourism may not approve the initial set up of $1 million due to budget constraints. It is equally likely that the supplier might charge additional set up cost due to the complexity of the functionalities and data required. Park Services management should then purchase an off-the-shelf package because it is cheap and can be quickly implemented. Scenario 2 – The new reservation system crashes completely after deployment The new system may fatally terminate during its ongoing operation due to unforeseen circumstances. Hence the database must be backed up on a real time basis in formats that can easily be recognized by the old ORAS and ROS systems. If such a disaster occurs, more park personnel need to be temporarily hired to perform manual booking services while the ORAS and ROS systems are brought back online.


The current reservation system contains many pressing issues such as the lack of quality data, inefficient operational processes, information technology system limitation and decentralization. Through extensive research and analysis, the alternative of tailoring other provinces’ system was selected as the most appropriate option. The new system is projected to go live on February 2nd, 2011 and the detailed implementation plan is created to assure a smooth development, transition, deployment and maintenance of the new system. Due to the increasing demand for online reservation, the new system is crucial to the future operation of Park Services and the successful implementation of the new system will provide Park Services a competitive advantage in the industry.


1. “Canada Consumer Spending.” Trading Economics. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct 2013. .

2. Haggerty, Nicole. Saskatchewan Provincial Park Campsite Management And Reservation System. London: Richard Ivey School of Business, 2011. Print.

3. Gallagher, Lin. Canada. Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport. 2012-2013 Annual Report. 2013. Web. .

4. “Software maintenance cost.” Seer. Seer Galorarth, n.d. Web. 14 Oct 2013. .

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