University athletics department bulks up on software

The University of Lethbridge recreation facilities centre traded in its booking software because it thought it had become what its customers are trying to avoid: flabby.

Bill Halma is the supervisor of recreation services at the Alberta

school. He says his department was being combined with all the other departments within the physical education complex, making its near-five-year-old software ill-suited for the demands. The university needed a system that could manage facilities bookings, program registration, sales and accounting.

“”One of the things that it’s forced us to do is re-evaluate our typical business procedures because some times, especially if you’re used to doing things in a loose manner, tightening it up takes a little bit more time,”” he says.

Vancouver-based Class Software Solutions (CSS) found itself top of the class once the university finished researching vendors. Halma says colleagues from around the province spoke very highly of CSS and it fulfilled more of the centre’s needs both short term and long term. “”And of course dealing in Canadian dollars is a little bit easier than dealing in American dollars,”” Halma says.

Class CentrServe was eventually chosen to perform a wide range of roles. The booking and program registration modules have already been rolled out while the point of sale, information management and general ledger modules should be up and running by the fall.

Holly Brown, a solutions consultant for Class, says the most challenging part of bringing together three different departments (aquatics, recreation services and athletics) was integrating three different sets of business practices. Halma says the aquatics centre, for example, has always been a pen-and-paper environment and relishes the opportunity to get move forward.

“”Right now our cash-outs are done by hand: we print the dollar figure for each individual account on a sheet of paper, send it to the cash office, they enter it,”” Halma says. “”What we want to do now is be able to export that information directly into the proper accounts so that it eliminates double entry and hopefully will eliminate a lot of the entry errors that occur.””

“”Implementing a new system is a phenomenal opportunity to take a step back and have a big picture overview. Take a look at your business practices and take a look and see if what you’re doing is working,”” adds Brown.

Staff aren’t the only ones expected to benefit. Halma says the Internet capabilities should lighten the load on two fronts. One, customers will be able to register for activities online as well as view when facilities are available. Two, CSS will be able to provide tech support remotely.

“”They can dial straight into our system if we have specific system problems. They can actually do a lot of the fixes off of their end without us having to struggle through it by downloading patches and that type of thing,”” Halma says.””That’s a fairly pricey thing to have, but I think in the end it’s critical to our business.””

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