Considering a university room management system but not sure how to pick the best option? Former university technician and current SISO account manager Chris Williams explains why Smarthub is the smart option.
What is room booking software?
Good room rental booking software makes the process of booking a meeting room, conference area or event space easy. It offers simple tools and an easy-to-use interface that enables users to see availability and book these environments easily and quickly, while often also allowing for the booking of equipment and other quantifiable resources that professionals, students or academics may need to work effectively.
The problem with typical room booking management systems
|“Before I joined SISO I was working as a technician at a university in Newcastle,” says SISO account manager Chris Williams. “There was no room rental booking software there at the time. Instead, their university room management system – if you can call it a system! – was all on paper. It was horrific trying to manage who was booking which room and what equipment was where.|
“It was then that I started looking for a dedicated university room management system and came across SISO, who were just developing the early versions of the software at the time. I think we were the fourth or fifth university they’d placed it in. It hugely helped us to change the way we went about booking rooms and equipment.”
How Smarthub is different
“We actually used what ended up becoming Smarthub for 10 years in Newcastle,” continues Chris. “Then, shortly before Covid, SISO asked if I’d be interested in working for them. So having seen it from both sides, I’m rather well-placed to know how Smarhub makes uni life better. In fact, a large part of my role is finding out a particular university’s needs and challenges and helping them with training and setting up on-site once we’ve got the go-ahead.
“The software itself helps enormously with bookings of equipment and rooms. But if you’re a technician like I was, it can hugely help you run your entire day and takes the pain out of organising everything.
“For instance, you can put turnaround times and maintenance times on equipment, so you know how long they’ll be unavailable for,” says Chris. “You can also put fines in place for items that are overdue. The system really runs itself in many ways and puts a lot of the everyday work you might be doing and lets it run in the background so you can get on with the other areas of your job.”
Making life easier
|The things that Smarthub can do essentially for you include:|
· Keeping track of room bookings in real time
· Organising equipment booking and monitoring inventory levels
· Creating schedules for equipment to minimise downtime and maximise equipment shelf life
· Identifying assets with barcoding and smart tagging
· Reporting on usage patterns so you can see what’s popular and optimise accordingly
“I know from experience that the amount of work university technicians do often goes unnoticed; they’re a little bit unappreciated,” reflects Chris. “If you’re a lecturer, you’ll just see them as the person who passes you the camera; you likely won’t understand the complexities that go into managing equipment and rooms.
For instance, a technician has to think about getting the right item to the right people, making sure it’s working, and that the batteries are charged – for all of the equipment on order.
For instance, some of these can be 250-item bookings where the equipment is needed for two weeks, where they’ve got actors booked, theatre spaces booked, and lighting and filming equipment booked. People need to know that everything they’re hiring will work. That’s the service that students expect, and Smarthub is designed to simplify making that happen, and it makes the technicians’ lives easier to manage it all.
The latest version of Smarthub introduced room booking with QR codes – and Chris points out it’s been a giant leap forward in every sense.
“Smarthub gives us access to lots of data insights, and it told us that more and more people were accessing room bookings on their phones. So we brought in a way of booking rooms that could use that technology. Everyone has a phone in their pocket these days, and we knew everyone would be familiar with QR codes from ordering in restaurants and pubs during the pandemic.
“Now, with that system, anyone can book rooms or equipment without needing to use an external device other than their phone or go through a long approvals process. They can see which rooms or computers are free straight away, jump on it, use it for 20 minutes, and then log off again – for students, it’s very straightforward and user-friendly. It’s great for lecturers, too. In fact, our room booking management solution could even help to change the way companies in the private sector manage their room and equipment bookings.”
“There’s also a green aspect to Smarthub,” says Dan. “A few years ago, unis and companies all invested in these huge screens to show room availability, and now as electricity prices go up, they’re having to power all of these screens unnecessarily. With QR code powered room booking software, they can do away with that extra expenditure and increase the sustainability of their institution or business at the same time.”
The future of room booking software
|“We’re a very customer-facing business and we’re constantly getting feedback from universities. We’re currently getting a lot of requests for custom forms with a series of questions that people may need to answer – or, for instance, a microscope in a lab with a certain set of controls and a QR code people can scan to get that information. It could even be used to create COSHH forms to help with compliance.”|
“There’s also the fact that our equipment and room booking management system allows universities to track usage and make changes accordingly. For instance, one uni we work with found that students would always go to the PC at the furthest end of the room, so that was getting full of downloads and more at risk of viruses. It prompted them to cycle the computers through the room and move hardware around. It’s all things you wouldn’t think about, but having those insights really does allow you to do so much to make your staff and students’ experiences better.
“When I was a tech and first suggested bringing in a university room management system ten years ago, some people didn’t see the advantages; didn’t see the possibilities. Now, as universities have become more business-oriented, they’ve realised just how much money they’re wasting managing these things and just how much guesswork goes into stocking their university with equipment. Smarthub takes away all of that guesswork and makes the everyday management aspect far easier.
Solve your admin headaches with the market-leading room booking management solution
If you’re looking to simplify the process of room booking and equipment management, Smarthub can help.
To learn more, take a look at Smarthub’s key features and our Bournemouth University case study, then get in touch with us to see how Smarthub could work for you.
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