Service Level Objectives   Customer Stories  

Driving Culture Change: Phorest's Observability Transformation

By Rox Williams  |   Last modified on March 5, 2024


Phorest wanted a tool to help foster a culture of observability among the engineers at an affordable and predictable price.

With their application stack hosted on AWS, Phorest delivers a premier software solution that empowers their salon and spa business customers to thrive. Ensuring every engineer has access to an observability tool is integral to the company's success model, enabling them to deliver great code for their designated software services. However, Phorest encountered speedbumps with their New Relic setup that hindered this observability goal.

Phorest faced escalating costs and limited developer access due to New Relic’s pricing, which hampered crucial aspects of their development process—from smooth code deployment to effective resolution. Investigating and debugging issues was also cumbersome and lacked flexibility, impeding the engineering team’s ability to efficiently navigate and trace system problems.

"Getting the insights we needed with New Relic was a growing challenge," explained Pawel Malon, Principal Software Engineer at Phorest. "Due to the high cost of adding users, only a handful of our developers could investigate the system state—and even doing that required not only familiarity with the tool, but also a deep understanding of the system internals."


In pursuit of a solution to enable a culture of observability, Phorest embarked on a vendor search to find a new tool that would facilitate this shift and maximize benefits for all. Drawing on a positive past experience, a developer within the team suggested Honeycomb as a potential solution. 

"Upon exploring our options, Honeycomb immediately caught our attention. We were particularly impressed by the hands-on experience offered through Honeycomb’s online training. After trialing the platform and experiencing its capabilities firsthand, we were drawn to Honeycomb not only for its impressive performance but also for its affordable and predictable pricing," shared Paul Dailly, Principal Software Engineer at Phorest.

The decision to opt for Honeycomb stemmed from several key factors:

  • Universal adoption
    “Honeycomb's approach of not charging per user enabled us to seamlessly onboard 50 engineers right from day one,” said Paul.
  • Excellent value at an affordable price
    “Honeycomb offered exceptional value at an affordable price point. Its comprehensive observability and debugging features, combined with universal developer access, provided a level of value that would have otherwise incurred double the costs with traditional observability tools,” explained Pawel. 
  • Impressive trial experience
    Paul shared, “We received hands-on training and dedicated support from the Honeycomb team during our evaluation, which further solidified our confidence in the platform's capabilities.”


A modern observability tool that empowers engineers of all skill levels

With Phorest’s ability to roll out observability to the entire team, a culture of curiosity and empowerment quickly took root. "Honeycomb democratizes our team’s understanding of our system, so you no longer need to be the most experienced person to grasp it. Whether you've worked at Phorest for five years or are just diving in, anyone can understand how the system behaves in production," remarked Pawel. One example of this in action was when an engineer with two months at Phorest delved into a complex section of the code—a service managing appointment availability—using Honeycomb. He quickly pinpointed bottlenecks and identified multiple areas for improvement that he demoed for everyone. 

The shift to Honeycomb also fostered a collaborative environment. Paul explained, "When we uncover something interesting, we record small videos to show how we used Honeycomb to find the issue. People became curious and also started sharing their examples. This created a positive snowball effect in fostering a culture of observability, propelled by Honeycomb.” 

Pawel emphasized Honeycomb's unique value: "The main difference in value that Honeycomb brings is that it allows anyone to ask questions and leverage observability—not just a select few due to plan restrictions or engineering experience. Unlike other vendors, Honeycomb's modern definition of observability goes beyond metrics, logs, and traces, offering our team a holistic understanding of system behavior."

Making data-driven decisions on where to prioritize efforts and resources

Honeycomb helps foster strong collaboration between Phorest's product managers and engineers when it comes to roadmap planning and resource allocation for addressing issues. Gone are the days of making decisions based on assumptions or gut feel. With Honeycomb, everyone has access to the same data, facilitating informed discussions and faster decision-making. This data-driven approach helps key stakeholders easily justify where to prioritize efforts supported by concrete data insights.

Harnessing Honeycomb observability data, engineering identified a service area in the Phorest product that supports salon customers in scheduling appointments or purchasing products. Given the fast-paced nature of salon operations, transactions must be seamless. Honeycomb data revealed that the P99 for these operations had an additional 3.4-second wait time for customers. Armed with this data, the product and engineering teams agreed that this issue was impacting the customer experience and required immediate attention. Engineering promptly addressed the issue, achieving a P99 of 4.8 milliseconds.

"Making business decisions based on data rather than assumptions fosters collaboration between our product and engineering teams. This mindset shift is significant, and it's gratifying to see people embracing it," shared Pawel.

Upleveling customer experience with Honeycomb SLOs

Now that the engineers achieved big wins by fixing performance issues throughout the Phorest system, the team launched an initiative to proactively detect and address issues before they impact customers. This involves setting appropriate Honeycomb Service Level Objectives (SLOs) for various parts of the product to ensure timely alerts are triggered.

"Introducing Honeycomb SLOs has been a gamechanger for us. They serve as a kind of contract between our product managers and engineers where we jointly define appropriate SLOs for each part of the product and agree that if an SLO isn’t met, it’s an indicator of customer impact. We then halt other work and prioritize resolving the issue," explained Paul.

Equipped with Honeycomb's powerful observability capabilities, Phorest can innovate with confidence to drive more value for its customers, knowing they have the best tool in place to ensure reliability and maintain a high-quality customer experience. With proactive measures to identify and address issues before they impact customers, Phorest is poised to consistently deliver exceptional service that delights customers.

Cultivating a supportive vendor partnership

Phorest's relationship with Honeycomb extends beyond a typical vendor-client dynamic. "Honeycomb is always there to help and genuinely wants to see us succeed with the product. Even after purchase and adoption, we continue to receive exceptional support, whether it's for workshops or delving deeper into technical problems. The company cares about ensuring our success with it, enabling Phorest to deliver a superior product that elevates our customer experience," Paul shared.

This collaborative and supportive approach from Honeycomb has been instrumental in Phorest's journey towards optimizing their observability practices and driving continuous improvement within their engineering processes.

Interested in learning more? Book a consultation with our sales team.

At a glance


Based in Ireland, Phorest is a global salon software company that was founded in 2002 with a mission to empower and inspire salon, spa, and clinic owners to grow fantastic businesses while attracting and delighting loyal clients and talented staff. Phorest Salon Software is used by more than 10,000 salons and processes billions of payments for hundreds of thousands of hair and beauty professionals.

Displaced solution

New Relic


Global salon software 


Honeycomb platform

Use cases

Modernize DevOps and debugging

Customer support optimization


  • Experienced a cultural shift towards observability enabled by universal access to Honeycomb 
  • Decreased debugging time to find root cause—from weeks to minutes
  • Empowered engineers of all skill levels to adeptly investigate the Phorest system's codebase
  • Fostered collaboration and accelerated decision-making using data-driven insights
  • Upleveled customer experience with Honeycomb SLOs
  • Improved service response from P99 of 3.4 seconds to 4.8 milliseconds, expediting customer purchases

"After years in engineering feeling like I was missing critical insights, with our switch to Honeycomb, suddenly, it's like I have sight for the first time in my career. I can observe how the system behaves, understand what's happening, ask questions, and actually get answers. It's like shedding light on what was once obscured. Honeycomb has entirely transformed my perspective."

Pawel Malon, Principal Software Engineer


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