Park District to hire IT consultant and begin search for new registration software

With the goal of improving the experience of signing up for programs, the Park District is planning to contract with an outside IT consultant to assist in the process of reviewing and selecting a registration software that properly meets the community’s needs. The Park Board provided consensus for the plan at their Monday, June 27 meeting. The yet-to-be-chosen consultant is anticipated to begin working with the Park District in July, with the goal of making a recommendation by September of this year.

The District’s current software provider, Vermont Systems, Inc. (VSI), has been used by the District since December 2015. Following software glitches during registration in 2016 and again in February 2018, the Park District Board and staff did an extensive assessment of the software. This resulted in moving to a cloud hosted solution with VSI and splitting out high demand programs, which allowed for a successful registration experience. Following these changes, the Park District had 14 consecutive registrations without issues.

However, following the pandemic and after two years of lower than normal registration numbers, in February 2022 the Park District experienced a huge increase in registrants. Transactions on the first day of registration increased 61% over the previous pre-pandemic spring registration. Unfortunately, the high volume of traffic caused the software system issues to return, with customers experiencing unacceptable delays and errors while trying to register. While VSI acknowledged registration performance was unacceptable, it has become apparent that the software is not able to meet the needs of the Elmhurst community, given the high-volume demands for Park District programs.

“We need to undertake efforts to find another solution, in the hopes that we can find something that we believe is better,” said Executive Director Jim Rogers.

Once a new software solution is selected, it is estimated that the timeframe for switching to the new software will be approximately 18 months. In the meantime, the Park District has been proactive in making changes to improve the registration experience. These changes include separating out gymnastics registration and large events to reduce the traffic volume, implementing duplicate login alerts, and implementing a virtual waiting room feature, which manages high-volume registration events. This helps to ensure that user volume does not exceed the software’s ability to provide a positive experience.