Naeba Snow School:
Going E-commerce

Beautiful mountains and plentiful snow make Naeba ski resort a holiday destination for Tokyo families. Naeba Snow School (http://www.naebasnow.jp/) has long catered to Japanese guests for safe, high-quality ski and snowboard lessons. In recent years, however, English- and Chinese-speaking guests began to make up an ever larger portion of the clientele. Naeba Snow School responded by overhauling their reservation process and hiring native speakers to manage phones, but strong demand made it difficult to meet customer needs.

The decision was made to introduce a Web-based reservation platform; users would be able to place orders whenever they liked, in English, Chinese, or Japanese. Hopefully, the new system could give users more control while taking pressure off of reservation staff. There was just one problem: no one on the Naeba Snow School team had experience with developing Web applications. How could they build the system they needed?

Solution Design

From the start, Mission People Systems consultant Karl Pisor understood that the client team, while non-technical, needed to be closely involved in the new system's design. They had vital business logic in their heads, and careful listening and documenting would be critical to the project's success. Karl started with paper prototypes, and then a click-through HTML dummy site, to verify system functionality step by step. Only when the client team had given approval did the project proceed to code development.

Mission People Systems delivered the solution in two parts, each with multilingual toggling for the user. The front end displayed clean graphics and branding to showcase the school's services, and was built on a content management system (CMS), empowering staff to update content as needed. Customers could click on prominent "Book Now" links at any time to proceed to the reservation system. When in the reservation system, customers could access to real-time scheduling data, filtered to match each skier's individual preferences.

Results

Efficient capture of business logic. Without a formal requirements document, many software teams simply can't or won't begin. Mission People Systems understands that each client has different strengths. For Naeba Snow School, building the solution and documenting it would proceed side by side, each piece becoming more stable as functionality and testing steps were added. "Karl took our paper processes, worked with us to understand them thoroughly, and then developed software that works," says client Dan Cox. "The whole team was impressed with the process, AND the results."

Customer-centered ease of use. A clean, mobile-ready Web interface welcomes users whatever their device, and makes it easy to sign the whole family up for ski or snowboard lessons. Speed is essential for a good Web application. Mission People Systems drew on its deep interface (UX) design background to deliver a light, fast-loading website that responds intuitively to user input.

Smooth integration with existing database assets. Mission People Systems built a custom database interface that seamlessly linked the reservation portal with the existing system's database. With no new workloads, client team members required no training to manage input from the Web portal; new reservations just appear in the system like magic.

Our team didn't have a lot of technical expertise, so it was a real challenge to build software that captured everything we needed—especially in three languages. Karl led us through the process gently and efficiently and delivered the functionality we needed for the next evolution of Naeba Snow School.

Dan Cox
President
KK Sherpa, operator of
Naeba Snow School

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