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MMS: The Muscle Behind the Life Time Fitness Machine

History In the Making

Just a few years ago Life Time's IT department barely existed, and MMS was a twinkle in CEO Bahram Akradi's eye. The group was made up of contract labor and a CIO in the making, Brent Zempel, who came up through the health and fitness industry and lacked technology experience. One thing he did have in spades, though, was management expertise, and he used it to get his contractors pointed in a common direction. He also worked a deal with Renaissance Worldwide, the agency providing programming staff, to waive the finder's fee should he hire its employees. And Zempel did exactly that: He assembled his core development team from this contract labor, saving a bundle on recruiting.

MMS Development
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Zempel also enticed Wesley Bertch, who taught Microsoft technology classes that Zempel attended, to evaluate the Life Time infrastructure, which wasn't nearly as buff as most of the health club's members. Bertch was hooked by the challenge and joined the Life Time team as director of software systems.

A New Plan

A number of factors drove Life Time to build MMS. The old system was down so often that many members bypassed it, resulting in nonpayment of dues. Data integrity was so low that lapsed accounts showed up as paid. And every time there was a major hiccup in the code, the system creator--a high-priced consultant--had to hop on a plane.

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