Choosing the Best Software for Your Parks and Recreation Department

Written by Whitney Greene

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Imagine two municipalities, one a small town with a modern, comprehensive recreation management solution and the other a larger city that relies on manual processes and three separate software systems to handle activities, facilities, rentals, and memberships.

Unsurprisingly, a single solution that handles all your complex and demanding management and administrative needs will consistently outperform manual processes and disparate systems that don’t seamlessly integrate. In the case of these two communities, despite the bigger city having more resources and a larger team, the small town has a more effective department. It engages residents at a higher rate because it has an all-encompassing solution that is flexible and intuitive, creating positive civic experiences residents rely on and trust.

How did these two municipalities go down such different paths, and what can you do to ensure you find yourself down the right one? It’s not always easy sifting through the various digital solutions, but not all these products are created equal. There’s a lot on the line when it comes to your recreation programming and the impact it has on your community.

When researching recreation management software, it’s okay to have high standards and expectations. You should never settle for a solution that only partially meets your needs. Certain functionality should not only be expected but should be required to receive your consideration. Ensure your solution has the following capabilities and features:


A Solution Designed for Government

Choose a solution built for the unique demands of the public sector. Cities, towns, townships, and counties have their own specific needs. Avoid trying to manipulate a private sector tool to work for your community.


An Intuitive Interface

It’s simple; if your administrators, staff, and residents can’t easily navigate your solution, they won’t use it, and you’ll miss engagement and revenue.


Flexible Functionality

Rigid systems can’t keep pace with the always-evolving needs of local government. Choosing a partner that offers flexibility and support with their solution is critical so you can adapt to any circumstance. Avoid systems that only work with proprietary hardware, as narrow options can result in significant limitations.


Cloud-Based Hosting

The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the value of contactless government and the ability to maintain operations in a remote setting. A cloud-based system is critical for teams working remotely, in the field, and from events and facilities. Also, with cybercrime on the rise, local governments shouldn’t risk a data breach or spend resources on self-hosting complex solutions.


Data Importing

It can be overwhelming trying to determine what data needs to be retained and what can be purged during a software transition. Your software partner should help you decide what data to migrate and when and where you should opt for a fresh start.


Insightful Reporting

Your recreation management solution is only as good as the information you can extract from the software to assist you in making informed, data-based decisions about department offerings and services that will provide the most return on investment.


Integrations with Third-Party Systems

The last thing you want is for a resident to get almost through the class registration process only to hit a roadblock right as they near the end because the solution doesn’t integrate with your billing system or payment gateway.


Training and Support

A valuable partner will ensure you and your team feel confident in the software and your ability to manage your processes before you go live. Don’t let anyone sell you a solution, and walk away. Pre-launch virtual or on-site training for you and your staff should be non-negotiable.


Final Words of Advice

Local government parks and recreation departments not leveraging the latest technology are missing vital opportunities to engage residents in the community. Parks and recreation staff are some of the most efficient and hardworking. Still, without them, these individuals will likely be hampered by inefficiencies out of their control. Equipping your staff with the ideal software allows them to do more with less. While any software implementation requires an upfront investment, entities that proactively seek out comprehensive, integrable solutions eventually see that money returned and see year-over-year cost savings. Combine that with the potential for higher registrations, and your parks and rec department will see the short and long-term benefits.

Explore the CivicPlus® Parks and Recreation Management software here.