A new gaming and hospitality company was in the process of building its first gaming and entertainment facility when the Executive Team recognized the importance of coordinating the planning and implementation of IT systems so that operations could open with useful technology and provide a foundation for growth. Making a broad scope of systems compatible up front would also aid the licensing process and allow the operation to open on time. With the physical property buildout already underway, the Executive Team had an aggressive timeline for opening phase 1 of the planned operation only six months away.
They decided to hire a single technology expert with special skills to manage this coordination and implementation. This effort would include navigating unique regulatory requirements and working closely with the regulators to ensure controls, compliance, and oversight were well defined. The primary goal of the engagement would be to prepare the business for a successful opening on time and in such a manner as to minimize future problems related to a broad scope of systems.
An experienced CIO, now a NextLevel team member, was hired to manage all technology infrastructure, application implementation, integration, data center setup, and vendor management that would support the aggressive opening date.
She immediately performed an assessment of priorities and dependencies to systematically implement and test all systems. From this she developed a plan that outlined tasks in the three primary areas of work performed:
- Infrastructure – Designed and built infrastructure to include Data Center buildout (cooling, power, space, and security), as well as coordination of fiber installation, wireless access network as well as end point cabling to support wireless access points, computers, gaming machines, point of sales, cameras, TV’s, and IP devices.
- Applications -Reviewed the Application Portfolio and partnered with vendors on the implementation schedule for critical applications (gaming and financial) and also worked with business stakeholders to identify, select, procure, and implement remaining applications required for opening including point of sales and timekeeping.
- Implementation and Training -Partnered with business stakeholders to test systems and integrations, as well as develop training schedules to train all team members. Created initial position descriptions based on the organizational structure and partnered with the CFO to hire key team members just in time for opening.
As part of these actions, she developed internal controls for technology and worked with the Gaming Commission to review and approve the controls. Vendor relationship management was essential to the success of the project so that many local and/or industry partners were identified and/or sourced to support the business. Throughout the project, security and regulatory compliance were primary considerations and it was critical to secure buy-in from the Executive Team and employees, as well as the Gaming Commission.
The actions taken by the NextLevel team member allowed the property to be opened on time and within budget. The Gaming Commission was suitably impressed with the proactive steps taken and certified regulatory compliance before opening. Since solid vendor relationships were established with buy-in from the Executive Team, technology operations could be seamlessly transitioned to the CFO and IT Director at the time of opening. With great prospects for growth, the facility was a successful operation in its first year and was able to proceed to phase 2 expansion and double in size the second year.