Michigan State University Extension took on an initiative several years ago to develop an events management information system that would make it possible for someone to organize and manage a workshop, field day, training or other educational event in a way that economizes on staff time. We wanted something that was adaptable to the variety of programs we offer and that would allow participants to register online and pay their registration fee online if they desired. We wanted something that would mesh well with our financial system so that revenue would be allocated to the correct MSU account and expenses would be paid directly by MSU using funds in the designated account.
Colleagues in ANR Technology Services, particularly Bob Kriegel and Jim Brija, and in ANR Communications, particularly Megghan Honke, Betsy Braid and Katie Gallagher, have led the process of designing and implementing this system. The system went “live” in March 2012. In order to meet that target date, we agreed to start with a simplified system and then add functions and specialized applications as we gained experience with the system. I am pleased to report that, although the system is still being refined and further developed, and although challenges still need to be overcome, the system is working and MSUE staff are adopting it with greater frequency as their solution for helping to manage the business side of our educational program events.
From the beginning of April 2012 to Jan. 15, 2013, we had 117 events entered into the system. We served 3,589 participants in programs who registered in the system. And what’s particularly encouraging is that as we’ve attempted to balance the tension between statewide program priorities and more centralized support services with local program delivery, I see some sign that we’re managing that balance well. From these 117 events, we had people from every one of Michigan’s 83 counties enroll in the system. That even includes Schoolcraft County, where we currently do not have a partnership with the county nor an office nor staff in the county.
We have more improvements to make in the system, and as demand increases, we’re working to expand our staff dedicated to events management so it works as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If you’ve used the system already, I hope you’ve let folks know about your experience. If you had challenges, please let the staff in ANR Communications know so they can address those in the system. If you’ve found it to be helpful, please let your colleagues know. The more we use this, the more we can make it relevant and efficient for all of our events management needs. Thanks to those who have helped to make this a reality and to those who have been pioneers in using the system. We CAN make the best better, and we’ll continue to work on this system with the 4-H motto as our driving principle.
It is with great pleasure that I can announce this week that the new Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Events Management System is now live! After months of hard work by ANR Technology Services and ANR Events Services, the new system has come to fruition, and it’s ready for your use. We are also excited to announce that there are already four programs in the system and ready for use, thanks to Terry Gibbs, John Partridge, Natalie Rector and Diane Smith.
The ANR Events Management system is available online at events.anr.msu.edu. The initial version has a full array of features, and we plan to offer even broader service applications to the software as we continue in the months ahead.
In order to access the system, you will be required to log in using your ANR ID and password. If you have not already participated in one of the event management training webinars, I encourage you to attend one. It will provide you with an overview of the system and allow you to learn how easy it is to set up your events. View dates and times for upcoming trainings on the Michigan State University Extension Professional Development website.
I just want to take a moment to thank Bob Kriegel, Jim Brija, Megghan Honke and Betsy Braid for their initiative and dedication in designing and building this system.
In my last posting of 2011, I listed a lot of broad groupings of individuals whose work this past year was extremely valuable to our progress. One of those broad groupings was the Organizational Development Team, and that team includes the interim director of ANR Communications Kris Hynes and ANR Technology Services director Erica Ciupak. I’d like to highlight some of the work that came out of those two operations last year and that we’re pleased to see launch early this year.
As we anticipated reductions in support staff positions both on campus and off campus, we realized we would need to provide a more sophisticated system for managing events online by a wider array of staff and faculty. We have called upon our ANR Communications and ANR Technology Services to help develop just such a system. The new events management system will become available to all in late January. It will be a great online resource for planning your events, with features like tips and tricks from professional event planners, various templates, online registration and other resources. The initial version will have a full array of features, but we plan to add even broader service applications to the software as we learn from using it in the months ahead.
Megghan Honke and Betsy Braid, who work in events management for ANR Communications, gave an in-depth overview of the new system, including all of its features, during the Dec. 19 webinar. I encourage anyone who wasn’t able to be a part of the webinar to listen to it. The new events management system will be a great asset for Michigan State University Extension in the new year and into the future.
I wanted to thank those that helped create the system, including Megghan and Betsy, who brought a lot of great ideas to the table, and a special thanks to Jim Brija and Bob Kriegel with ANR Technology Services who did the painstaking work of building the site from the ground up and helped make those ideas a reality.
I was pleased to see that the new online version of the Michigan State University Extension Bookstore (formerly called the bulletin system) went live last week. This was a great joint effort by folks in ANR Technology Services (especially Bob Kriegel and Jim Brija) and ANR Communications (Steve Evans and Laura Probyn were the project coordinators).
It’s taken some time for this project to come together, but when you think that there are somewhere around 1,700 products in our system, the fact that the technology exists to enable us to build a store that looks a lot like the “big guys” who have much bigger pocketbooks and staffs is pretty amazing.
I’ll take a moment of silence now for the old CeeNet email system. Though we retired it from active daily use several years ago, it still provided the login and password system that the counties have used to order products from the Bookstore until the new system went live. Thank you for your service CeeNet; rest in peace. We’re now on par with the rest of the university, using the regular MSU login system for individual orders. Individuals should log in and create their own accounts to receive the discounted rate for items (formerly called the county price) and county staff members can log in using their respective county’s numeric email address (for example, Alcona County staff members will use firstname.lastname@example.org).
There are lots of other great bells and whistles on this site. Steve Evans has created the first of several handy-dandy webinars that folks can use to learn to use the system. There will be more to come, and we’ll be setting aside time in one of our upcoming Monday afternoon staff updates to talk more about the system. Associate Director Steve Lovejoy represented the Director’s Office in this venture and he’ll give us an overview of the system and how it works. It’s encouraging to see the numbers of sales increasing already from this easily used site. Thanks to all who’ve been a part of this effort – it’s a great example of how we are “walking the talk” and using technology to help disseminate our work to the people who need it.