COMPUTERIZED FACILITY SCHEDULING SOFTWARE
Successful scheduling of recreational facilities is dependent upon a number of factors that are unique to each base. Each base will have specific needs and program interests that are specific to their particular situation. Some will be solely responsible for scheduling recreation facilities that serve the entire base while others will need to prioritize building needs using preferred and agreed upon scheduling time blocks. In this scenario, a mutual understanding, communication and cooperative spirit must exist if the scheduling and management processes are to be effective.
II. Elements of a computerized facility reservation system
As we discuss facility reservations and how this process can be computerized, it is important that we understand the components of the system. A complete reservation system should include the following modules:
1. The actual reservation system module.....front counter data entry, user check-in, site supervision, etc.
2. Office support module....management information, general ledger, accounts receivable, equipment inventory, etc.
3. Word processing module.....access to a comprehensive word processing capabilities for letters, memos, mailing lists, etc.
4. Spreadsheet analysis.....access to electronic spreadsheets for determining relationships, averages of users by facility, etc.
5. Database management....access to database capabilities to organize facility data management needs to support trend analysis, storage and retrieval of data and site analysis.
6. Project management....allowing recreation managers to plan schedules, assign resources, develop maintenance schedules for the various facility user groups.
III. Understanding your environment.....questions you need to ask yourself.
For a facility reservation system to be successful, many items need to be taken into consideration. Each of us has different needs and constraints, different facilities and varying levels of staff/financial support and they all must be taken into consideration before a system can be effectively computerized. Questions that should be addressed include:
1. Are you limited to a particular platform or type of computer?
2. How much money is available to purchase the hardware and the software?
3. What is the knowledge level of your computer support staff?
4. What is your current manual system, specifically:
a. what facilities are reserved?
b. are there fees and charges?
c. are reservations made during certain hours of the day, week or month?
d. what information do you maintain on each user?
e. what reports would you like?
4. site supervisory
IV. Software selection.....what to look for.
Once you have identified your needs, the next step is to list features that you want the computerized system to provide. The goal of any system is to provide instant access to all of your staff with respect to accurate site availability information. Basically, a system should include:
1. Permit registration for events and facilities.
2. Single or multiple date reservations.
3. On-screen view of available time slots.
4. Instant access for pre-registration information.
5. Management reports to assist with preparations for scheduled events and facility usage.
Specifically, features that may or may not be important to you to discuss with a software vendor might include:
1. Automatically assigns a unique reservation confirmation number.
2. Allows reactivation of canceled reservations.
3. Tracks deposit transactions.
4. Allows you to overbook a site if you wish by a certain percentage factor by season or by month.
5. Calculates the estimated total facility charge for advanced reservations. The system should allow for special discounts and other non-standard rates.
6. The reservation module/function should allow for additions, changes, cancellations, report printing, reactivation, copy of user information from one reservation to another, etc. In addition, it should provide the various display screens such as:
a. display of available sites for booking for any range of dates.
b. display of a particular site.
c. display of user groups by summary or by details.
d. block/unblock a site by user group.
e. show all reservations assigned to a particular site.
f. show all sites assigned to a specific reservation.
g. display total sites reserved versus total sites available for any date.
h. display the total number of sites reserved by user type per day.
i. display the all facilities reserved for a specific date and time.
j. forecast facility availability reports.
7. Billing by cash, credit card or split between user group and individual.
8. Accommodates special requests and comments for each reservation.
9. Custom design and print confirmation forms for a variety of purposes such as:
a. new reservation confirmation
b. deposit confirmation
c. notification to the facility user of any changes made to the reservation or cancellation of the reservation.
10. Marketing module that effectively tracks facility users, including a user history database of participants who have used a facility with name, address, phone, facility site, date of reservation, comments, etc. The module should also provide complete mail merge support for marketing purposes.
11. Organizes the facility site supervisor with instant user/site information such as:
a. site status: reserved, available or closed for maintenance
b. display site by type, status, location or special features
c. search for user by name, site, group name or reservation date
d. display users (alphabetically) by site
e. display site by user
12. Print billing information by site and user.
13. Track complaint/problem maintenance and preventative maintenance on the site by site supervisors and users.
14. Provides access to equipment inventory to help control usage and misusage of equipment.
V. Hardware decisions.....what to look for.
Once you have selected your software or have identified the type of software that you would like to have developed for your base, the next step is selecting the hardware. While general hardware considerations apply to facility reservation systems, now is the time to determine specific hardware needs that will meet the needs of your software. Your software dealer will provide you with the information concerning the amount of memory, hard disk capacity, video requirements, type of printer and other items your hardware system will need. Pay particular attention to processor speed, hard disk size, tape back-up and LAN capabilities.
In order to have an effective and efficient computerized reservation system, you must study each element of the program.....both the computer and your current manual system. There are many good reservation systems available, but they will only work for you if they meet your needs. By identifying your program and staff needs and expectations, you will not only be satisfied with the system, but it will prove to be very cost effective both in terms of staff time and financial savings.
14 February 1998
Copyright 1998, The Trustees of Indiana University