Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Park and Rec's Software Conundrum

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Park and Rec's Software Conundrum

Article excerpt

Shopping for reservation management software can be overwhelming. Asking park and recreation directors for feedback and keeping some basic tips in mind has helped one director streamline the decision-making process.

Today, residents of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, register for park and recreation programs either in-person at the local recreation center or through the mail, says Bobbi White, director of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Parks and Recreation Department. They use the same in-person or by-mail method to reserve park space and buildings.

"We don't have any type of software that can be used to take reservations over the internet," she says. "And we don't take credit cards.

"In fact, we're lucky to have the internet in our area at all," she jokes.

But, residents may not have to post an envelope or come down to the recreation center to register for much longer. If the Elizabeth City Council approves a proposed appropriation for park and recreation registration software, rollout of the new technology could begin as early as September or October of this year, White says.

Those presently on the table in White's department are Active Net, PerfectMind, and EZFacility. At the start of her investigation, White encountered challenges when attempting to get a holistic view of each program's pros and cons.

"Of course you'll hear how well they work. But I need to hear the drawbacks too," White says.

Active Net, itself a maker of parks and recreation management software, suggests directors keep a few simple things in mind when shopping for software:

* Begin by making a list of required reporting functionalities and other features, such as point-of-sale capabilities.

* Ensure the software can grow with the department and includes features the department might use down the line.

* Consider the costs of implementation and its attendant hassles. Are those costs included in estimates?

* Ask for referrals and feedback from users.

Directors should also weigh the costs and benefits of buying the software outright (customer service is usually included) or purchasing a cloud-based system. Usually cloud-based software costs recur monthly.

Keeping in mind the edict to ask for feedback, White reached out to other park and recreation directors to garner opinions and specifics. …

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