Whether you’re in the education sector or work in the business world, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ll have experienced the difficulties and pain points of booking equipment and meeting rooms just when you need them most.
Here at SISO we believe that software solutions can solve a lot of these problems – IF it’s carefully chosen, and implemented in the right way.
In this post, we look at some of the pros and cons of equipment booking software, so that you can begin to decide if an online equipment booking system can help solve your organisation’s challenges.
What are the advantages of online booking systems?
1. Equipment scheduling software removes the need for a third party
The right online equipment booking system should allow you to create business rules and automation steps in categories like users, equipment and rooms. The end user should have visibility of availability and be able to book directly using their phone or PC, making for a seamless and entirely hassle-free user experience.
2. It lets your team do the job they really want to, not just administration tasks
There are some cases where a team’s entire remit is to take full ownership of equipment and room booking. However, more often than not that task is given to a person or team who have a wealth of other responsibilities too. Effective implementation of room and equipment scheduling software can free those people up to do the other more productive parts of their role, and effectively saving your business money in the process.
3. And reduces human error
Many organisations use existing software solutions they have such as excel, Microsoft Sharepoint, Access or Google Forms to try to manage equipment and rooms. These are not designed for the more complicated requirements of what many organisations need. The right software should have a range of key features that is centralised and auditable, keeps an automatic log of who’s booked what, and how much inventory is left in reserve. Where necessary can deliver equipment training videos, impose risk assessments and link to third-party systems, such as university timetabling. It’s therefore more consistently reliable; discrepancies only happen if equipment isn’t returned as specified, or if people physically miss meetings in the rooms they’ve booked using the system.
4. An effective online equipment booking system also produces a smoother user experience
As a direct result of removing the need for a third party and eliminating human error, equipment reservation software also creates a smoother and far more efficient user experience for the person booking the room or project-vital equipment. Whether they’re a student needing practical equipment for an important project, a teacher looking to host student workshops, or a corporate worker requiring a meeting room for interviewing, training or brainstorming sessions, an online equipment booking system lets them find and book exactly what they need from their phone or laptop with ease, enabling them to complete the task in hand quickly and efficiently. Great systems are hardware agnostic allowing a user the flexibility to choose their device of preference. They must also be intuitive or integrate with the user’s familiar tools such as Outlook 365.
5. And can be used to market your student or business services
The smooth user experience we’ve mentioned above carries with it another benefit – you can shout about it proudly in all of your organisation’s attraction and retention campaigns. Everybody wants to work and learn in a place that’s forward-thinking and makes the potential logistical hurdles as small and pain-free as possible, and telling people that you can offer them that can be a major plus point when it comes to hiring talent, keeping workers happy, or appealing to the most talented teachers and most promising students.
What are the disadvantages of online booking systems?
1. Can necessitate a deeper cultural shift right across your organisation
Arguably the biggest con of equipment booking software is the resistance it can meet with when you first suggest adopting it. If your organisation or institution has long relied on manual approvals for booking equipment or rooms, the first reaction can sometimes be a general lack of trust in the efficacy of a new system. You may also get push-back around budget and the cost of implementing such a system, and admin or scheduling teams may even be concerned about the impact on their job security.
The good news is the answers to these queries often lie in the benefits we’ve outlined above. Room and equipment scheduling software can actually make your processes more efficient, and free up your admin teams to do more interesting and vital work, which actually ends up saving your company money in the long run. Of course, some up-front cost to make the change is to be expected, but it’s often worth it to have a more modern system solving many of the pain points we’ve mentioned above – as long as you find a company who can help you implement it smartly.
Which brings us to…
2. Being able to test the features you require and how it would work for different users can be difficult
While there are numerous software solutions around, many are hard to get a meaningful trial period with the actual software you would need in a test environment that is realistic. You should try to get a system provider that understands your needs and gives you sufficient time and support during any kind of trial period. This is especially important if you need to integrate with your existing systems or have a wide range of users that have very different needs.
3. Finding a trusted provider that helps you implement and then supports you after, can be tricky
The last con of equipment booking software is that many companies might claim to offer expertise and efficiency benefits in this area, but few have a proven track record. Have they integrated with university timetabling systems? Do they have account managers who are there to work with you to ensure your systems are configured correctly?
Thankfully, at SISO we can proudly claim to be one that does. In fact, with over 200 universities using our Smarthub Software as a Service solution, we’re very much the market leader – and we’re making improvements to our offering all the while.
See what Smarthub can do for you
To learn more, visit our Smarthub page and see what our online equipment booking system can offer your organisation, and contact us for an in-depth chat about how we can help solve your booking challenges.
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