Technology

Kyle has utilized RequestPartner CRM since January 2006, with more than 40 unique web forms that allow the public to submit requests via the city Web site and check citizens’ status in real-time. The Parks and Recreation Department uses the CRM system for receiving and tracking requests on issues like maintenance for facilities, parks, playgrounds and recreational areas, as well as landscaping and mowing requests.

Unintended Uses

ReservePartner fulfilled the most crucial need to handle all financial transactions, but city officials and staff soon realized there was much more that the online tool offered to help the department grow in its service capabilities.

Whereas the system was initially planned for basic reservations of rooms for events or meetings, it extended well beyond that. For example, Kyle recently held a BBQ Cook-Off and used the online system to sign up participants for the event, as well as for vendor booths, the poker tournament and even T-shirt sales.

Whether staff signed up people at the Parks and Recreation counter, or people signed themselves up from home via the Internet, all transactions were managed in a central system. This avoided over-booking and reduced long lines at City Hall or on the day of the event.

The response to the new technology has been very positive from the public, staff and management. Officials involved Parks and Recreation at each step of the process, and made certain that all system training was conducted onsite. The implementation consultant offered experience not just in technology, but also on issues dealing with change management.

As Krystal Loyd, the city’s Programs Coordinator, describes, “The flexibility that today’s latest software can offer parks and recreation departments is impressive. We have the ability to customize business rules and even specific questions in our CRM and recreation software, without any assistance from IT.”

“And what’s more,” she continues, “if we need to change a procedure or wording on a facility application or request form, we can do it in a matter of seconds. This makes all the difference for someone like me that has a very specific way of managing my programs and needs a system to reflect my processes.”

Such self-customization and advanced financial tracking were once only possible for agencies with large IT departments that could change software code as needed. But with new technologies like .NET, any department staff person can be trained to make changes to fee schedules, system settings and business rules for managing class configurations or facility rental protocol.

It is possible now for positive change and growth to occur in parks and recreation departments on a daily basis, as established systems are reconfigured and updated to keep up with an agency’s overall evolution. This leap in technology is being met with enthusiasm from managers and staff who have learned to apply advanced online systems in their own departments and communities.

Kerry Urbanowic is Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Kyle, Texas. He can be reached via e-mail at kerryu@cityofkyle.com

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