EMS Software Saves Schedulers at the University of Oregon
Updated September 12, 2019
EMS Software Saves Schedulers at the University of Oregon
Score 9 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with EMS Software
The University of Oregon is preparing to use EMS Software for event and class scheduling across our entire campus. Initial users will include the registrar's office, scheduling and event services, our alumni center and our business school; we hope to roll it out to additional departments within the next couple of years. This application and anticipated integration with other software will help aggregate our school's activities in a single source for better communication of information to customers and use by risk management services.
- The graphic user interface is well-designed and intuitive, which promotes productivity.
- It provides workflow functionality for schedulers and service providers to efficiently relay event details and status.
- The user-defined fields add the ability to customize reservation and space records to better meet campus business needs.
- Bookings contain a limited number of standard time fields (event start, event end, setup time, teardown time); more options here are desirable.
- Resource records are not as robust as some of the other areas, and could benefit from additional standard and user-defined fields.
- Applying blackouts to spaces (to prevent bookings during certain times) appears to be a challenge: we believe it can be done, but the process doesn't seem to be straightforward.
- We have barely begun implementation of this product, so I am not in a position to address the ROI piece.
- I can say that many campus partners are elated with the prospect of using this software as a replacement for previous software that they felt to be inferior.
- I believe the long-term impact of EMS Software on the UO will be positive, although it is too early to call out specifics.
As I previously hinted, our campus chose EMS Software because we felt it better met our needs in terms of flexibility for both academic and non-academic scheduling and contained superior functionality and ease of use for a variety of user types (pro staff, faculty, students, community members, etc.). Another factor that prevailed was the positive attitude of EMS personnel and willingness to provide expanded answers to followup questions during the evaluation process. Our selection team felt very confident we would have a good, honest working relationship with the vendor.
Again, I want to emphasize we are in the early stages of implementation and I can't really speak to the issue of scalability because of limited experience with this product. I can say EMS Software is designed to fit the needs of pretty much any institution, be it large or small, and feedback from other schools I've talked with indicates the vendor is very proactive in tailoring its product to the customer's needs.
- We plan to integrate EMS Software with digital signage (through Four Winds) for dynamic display of room schedules; this will enhance patron experience.
- We plan to integrate EMS Software with Outlook for greater user convenience across our campus.
- We may integrate EMS Software with Localist (a web-based comprehensive calendar product) for improved promotion of events on and beyond our campus.
- Future integration with OrgSync/Campus Labs (student organization database) and AMAG (door security devices) is also a possibility.
I will have a better answer when we have completed our configuration in a couple months! Based on the information I have gathered through research, speaking with various EMS representatives and conversations with other users of the software, I believe the degree of configurability is pretty good for this type of product. My past experience has led me to understand that well-designed scheduling software tends toward extensive configurability; as long as the user interface supports doing so easily, all is good. I think EMS Software meets this criteria.
Comprehensive event scheduling software is a very specialized entity and there are only a handful of vendors that can deliver such a product. Based on previous experience with a competitor's application, I believe EMS Software is currently the best choice for a higher education environment where academic (class scheduling) and non-academic (event scheduling) departments wish to collaborate and share spaces for efficient use of campus facilities. Because the software is extremely easy to use and intuitive, departments that rely on revolving student workers for information entry will particularly benefit from the minimal training required to perform basic operations.
Using EMS Software
250 - Users of the product are both department schedulers of campus spaces and resources and faculty/staff who have need for places to hold meetings, workshops, presentations, etc. The software captures single- and multi-date bookings for a variety of different activities sponsored by student organizations, campus departments and non-affiliated entities using campus facilities.
10 - In-house support for this product falls into two general categories: functional and technical. Functional support personnel need to be familiar with the software's design and capabilities, and also with how various elements are configured. Technical support personnel need similar knowledge, along with insight into back-end operations. Because our school's instance is cloud-hosted, there is less need for in-house technical support. Typical problem troubleshooting involves replicating a user's issue, then using knowledge of the product's functionality to make corrections or modifications to achieve the outcome the user expects or desires.
- Entering and tracking space and resource bookings.
- Reporting on data stored in the software (weekly event schedule, daily room setup list, etc.)
- Invoicing events to capture revenue.
- We are starting to build a centralized system of record that can be used campus-wide to aid with public safety and emergency management matters.
- Integration of event data with digital signage.
- Integration with Outlook for a simplified user experience.
Although there are improvements that could be made, the software is proving intuitive and robust. Because of past campus experience with a different scheduling software that performed poorly and left a bad impression with most users, we are at a critical juncture where we need something that works well and encourages buy-in among the many departments at our school. So far, EMS is rising to the occasion.
Evaluating EMS Software and Competitors
Yes - This product replaced R25 and 25Live, which are CollegeNET products. The main driver for replacing the old software was changes the vendor made that phased out the thick client (R25 - which was quirky but usable) and forced customers to use its web-based client (25Live - an inferior product we tested and didn't like). Other factors included aggressive/argumentative customer support and the poor reputation CollegeNET had developed on our campus over the past 10 years. Those leading the project felt we needed better software and good vendor relations to successfully bring all campus entities onboard.
- Product Features
- Product Usability
- Product Reputation
- Positive Sales Experience with the Vendor
Probably the most-important factor that led us to choose EMS software was a combination of product features and usability. We required software with a straightforward user interface that people at all skill levels could instantly employ to build events, book spaces, assign resources and share this information with others via different platforms. EMS offered a robust desktop client for power users and web application for simple bookings; we purchased both to serve the varied needs (and anticipated future needs) on our campus.
I would have made the process more rigorous by requiring product demos to be more in-depth and would have stipulated that we have the ability to have a trial use of each vendor's product for a period of time so that we could evaluate its merits and drawbacks beyond quick observation and conjecture that occurs during fast-paced presentations.