Societies unhappy with “horribly outdated” and “cumbersome” room-booking system

Planon has been the room-booking platform “for the last decade”

Multiple societies have slammed the University’s online room-booking platform, Planon, in a survey conducted by Nouse.

A significant majority of the society heads who took part in the survey felt that the online system, which requires the applicant to search for specific room numbers one at a time to check availability, is in need of significant modernising and streamlining.

Societies also reported instances where their bookings had not been registered, had been repeatedly imputed, or had simply disappeared without their being notified.

UoY Concert Orchestra’s Zac Kahn described the current room-booking method as “cumbersome and inaccessible”.  He highlighted a number of flaws, including that “there is no clear way of viewing available times for specific rooms, the room descriptions have notbeen  kept  up   to   date,   and   the   login system is fractured at best.”

Kahn also said that the lack of a “sensible display”, the failure of the administrators “to keep the records current” and “the poorly explained ‘how to’ sections” are all frustrating.

York Student Think Tank identified that Planon had the potential to be made more user-friendly, claiming that it is at present “a horribly outdated and very difficult to navigate system”, concurring with York Student Cinema that the system is in desperate need of “serious refinement”.

Image: James Hall

Image: James Hall

York Student Cinema felt that Planon has in principle the basics of a good system for its breadth of information on campus spaces, but that in its present state the system is “confusing” with “too many hoops to jump through”.

Only UKIP Association and Poker Societies were mainly favourable towards the current system in their responses; the President of the latter saw no need for an overhaul, claiming that “it’s not pretty but it works”. UKIP Society Secretary Thomas Turton felt that most of the time Planon seems to work, but also noted that the society had once been “accidentally double booked” and ended up disturbing an LFA class.

York Student Cinema also reported breakdowns in communication. Society Chair Laura Brame claims that porters had once not registered a room as booked and only opened it after a crowd of customers turned up.

She also told Nouse that for rooms like P/X/001, one of campus’ largest and best equipped venues, booking a year in advance is sometimes not enough to secure the space if it has been set aside for a careers or academic event.

Another concern raised is that Planon currently allows a single society to book any number of rooms for the same date and time, meaning that it is possible to reserve multiple spaces from which to later choose. The University’s Head of Accommodation and Timetabling Matt Burton told Nouse that Planon, which has been used as a room-booking platform “for the last decade”, has not grown in accordance with campus’ growing number of rooms.

“We have been actively exploring alternatives for the room booking element of Planon and the underlying space systems that operate,” Burton said.  “A project to take this forward, incorporating a replacement room booking tool, digital [room] signage and general enhancements has been submitted for consideration in the University’s planning round for the next financial year.”

YUSU Activities Office Chris Wall told Nouse that YUSU ” would of course support any investment to improvements in any University systems”. However he said that his priorities at the moment are “securing more storage, performance and flat floor space for societies, as that’s came out as a top concern for them at this years training.”

2 comments

  1. 20 Jan ’16 at 11:06 am

    Caitlin Roxburgh

    Hi Chris, very interesting article. Many booking systems are becoming outdated due to various advances such as mobile optimisation. In order to stay ahead, businesses and organisations such as universities need to consider how straight-forward, responsive and accessible a system is for young people who’re surrounded by technology that looks and feels good.

    Caitlin
    Booking Live
    http://www.bookinglive.com

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  2. It’s less about how long a piece of software has been around, and more to do with a) how frequently it’s maintained/updated, b) how easy it is for students to make booking requests, c) how easy it is for administrators to “approve” booking requests and keep track of what’s actually happening in their facilities.

    In this day and age, there are a wealth of good, well-established, room booking/scheduling systems out there that are both easy-to-use and regularly updated (and some which also support Digital Signage).

    I imagine that if the University have been using the same system for a decade, there will be some reluctance to change to a completely new booking system – however, I hope the University will at least take time to evaluate some of the great scheduling software alternatives that are out there, and see what they’re missing out on!

    Mark
    MIDAS
    https://mid.as

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