Be your campus advocate
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Be your campus advocate
UCA is a four-year, public institution in Conway, Arkansas that serves over 10,000 students. Meghan Thompson, Coordinator of Student Organizations, was tasked with finding a solution to the university’s arduous paper-based processes. She was experiencing an organization registration system inhibited by difficult processes and frustrated users and saw a need for a more streamlined solution. For some, the organization registration process sometimes took an entire semester to complete. Student leaders were required to turn in paper applications that required committee review and any edits had to be resubmitted prior to approval. Due to all of the back and forth, student leaders gave up on the process early in the year and stopped coming to her for help. “It was inconvenient to start a student organization,” said Thompson.
The OrgSync solution
Thompson looked at OrgSync as a potential solution in 2012. “I had student backing of OrgSync when I came on as an administrator because it started as a student initiative,” said Thompson. With the support of Student Services, the SGA, and the Board of Trustees, Thompson negotiated a split investment of the program. Since that time, Thompson has successfully integrated OrgSync into a variety of student organizations, and continues to advocate the platform to others on campus. As an OrgSync administrator, Thompson is primarily responsible for managing and promoting OrgSync to the university and for creating consistent, campus-wide processes. She’s a manager, a salesperson, and a program advocate, tasked with developing the program, sharing her knowledge, and leading a culture shift from paper-based practices to a fully online system.
Becoming an OrgSync advocate
Moving essential processes on to OrgSync was Thompson’s initial step in implementing the program. While she met some initial resistance, it turned into a positive transition. She started by transitioning procedures onto the platform that were within her control. “I’ve moved almost everything I do to OrgSync,” said Thompson.
Implementation Tip: Transition new organizations and departments onto OrgSync during summer months. This helps ensure that faculty, staff, and students are ready to go and fully prepared for the new semester. With any student organization, begin by teaching them how to browse organizations and how to contact organization leaders.
Thompson’s primary strategy for OrgSync implementation was focused around face-to-face interactions and promotion. This has proven highly successful for UCA. She notes, “I don’t think I would be able to do the extra student development that I do if I didn’t have OrgSync to help me manage the task-oriented things.” Getting the word out was also an early challenge. Rather than solely emailing students, Thompson took every opportunity to push OrgSync out during live campus events. Faculty meetings and organization events were the perfect way to showcase the product while also teaching its benefits. “Take every opportunity you have to OrgSync, OrgSync, OrgSync,” she said. “Be visible, get out there.”
Implementation Tip: Be available to students and faculty to answer any questions, and always connect their processes back to something OrgSync can provide. For example, because of Thompson’s advocacy, faculty and staff have now implemented OrgSync into Shape Up, their HR and benefits program. Attendees swipe into each educational session for involvement and attendance tracking through Card Swipe.
In addition to having a presence at events, Thompson advocated for OrgSync through student leaders and organizations. “It’s not necessarily the individual student. Rather, it’s showing the student organizations how they can use OrgSync. In turn, they become OrgSync advocates,” said Thompson. Partnering with student leaders and faculty to build relationships was a key initiative of Thompson’s. This strategy was essential to helping bring hesitant faculty and student organizations onboard. Thompson notes, “if you don’t make your faculty and students’ lives easier, they are not going to fully commit to the program or listen to you.”
Implementation Tip: Have the program in action at events so faculty and students can see how powerful it is. You never know whose interest will be sparked and how else the platform can be used.
Opposition to new programs and processes was the final challenge Thompson faced, but it was also “a learning and growth opportunity.” Thompson acknowledged that frustration can take over when students were not listening or trying, but overcoming resistance and working with students was key to helping teach them. “If they’re comfortable with it and feel like they’re educated on it, they’re going to use it,” said Thompson.
With Thompson’s help and confidence in the platform, UCA faculty, staff, and students are embracing OrgSync. For example, the SGA now has a custom website, all committee meetings are uploaded onto the platform, voting is now done completely through OrgSync, and student activity fee allocation is done through OrgSync’s Budget Management System. Faculty swipe in and out of OrgSync with Card Swipe for a special HR & benefits program, and Thompson has partnered with the Community Service Outreach program.
“I would say OrgSync has really trickled down into everything I do in my job.”
Implementation Tip: Have a student computer available by your office to guide students and faculty through the platform. “I found that students were logging into my computer all of the time,” said Thompson. She now has two student computers in her suite. The computers are especially useful because they do not interrupt her workflow but are an excellent training tool.