Get to know Groupize

10 March 2022

In January, Procurement and Contract Management (PCM) purchased Groupize, an all-in-one enterprise event management software solution. The University of Alberta was first introduced to Groupize in March 2020 through our Travel Management platform.

An Event Management Task Force was established in summer 2021 to review the current and future state of event management at the U of A, determine the community needs, overcome barriers, and gather valuable input from the community. This included finding a centralized solution to support an in-person, remote and hybrid delivery model to enable consistency across the institution, reduce work effort in sourcing and deploying a platform, support institutional cost savings, and enhance user experience.

Groupize was reviewed, assessed and determined to be an appropriate solution based on the following needs: system access and set-up, event development, marketing, collection of registration, event recording, reconciliation of registrations, reporting, system support, miscellaneous requirements (app, ticketing, attendance confirmation, hotel bookings, breakout rooms, event surveys, calendar functionality, collection of donations). The solution also includes app functionality which provides a considerable cost savings opportunity. A complete overview of features and functionality can be reviewed here: Software Requirements.

Access to the system was received by PCM on January 18, 2022 and as part of the implementation, began onboarding early users of the community who have immediate event needs. Early onboarding was deployed on February 8, 2022 for the Faculty of Arts, Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences (ALES); Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FoMD), Registrar's Office and Conference Services. PCM will launch Groupize on April 1, 2022; each faculty, department and unit on campus can use the software at no additional cost.

We were eager to hear from our early adopters to learn about their first impressions of the software. Here are their initial thoughts of the new system and how they're using it:

What we've heard from users

Andrea Cliff, Strategic Communications and Events Team Lead in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (FoMD) shares, "In the Department of Medicine, we plan many different types of events, including award ceremonies, medical conferences, research days, and weekly speaker series, just to name a few. I'm looking forward to using Groupize to simplify and streamline the set up and registration processes for these events. At first glance the system appears to be very user friendly. Much easier than systems I've used in the past. Beginner and veteran planners on campus should have no problem setting up and managing events of all sizes and complexity with the options included."

Built-in function with minimal setup

Andrea spoke to us about how many event budgets don't allow for external event apps simply because of the cost versus return on investment (ROI). "I'm very excited that Groupize has this as a built-in function with minimal setup. Event apps have the potential to increase participant engagement and make it easier for us to connect with our attendees which will improve overall user experience. Not to mention save us thousands of dollars by not having to contract an external company to build an app for each event."

Hierarchy of the account profiles

We asked Andrea what we could do better. "One of the areas I would like to see set up a little different is the hierarchy of the account profiles. I know Groupize has 'collaborator roles,' but in a department the size of medicine, an administrator role would be beneficial to avoid conflicting event dates. Chad Alexander and the Groupize team are open to suggestions like this so I hope to see this as an option in the future."

In regards to the training session that Andrea attended she believes that it "was very thorough, although I was hoping that we'd have more time for Q & A. I can't wait for our world to return to normal so that we can meet face to face again."

"We uncovered features and functions for my own particular needs"

Just like Andrea, Mark Karstad, Manager, Academic Technologies Office of Education in FoMD also attended the super user training session. "My first impressions are that it has a lot of tabs and pages that require information during event set up, but this is to be expected as it serves a wide variety of events," said Mark. "The training I received was the first provided to anyone at the University and it was more of a Q&A for my own needs. I appreciate that it was treated as a learning experience for both the Groupize trainer and for me as we uncovered features and functions for my own particular needs. I would like to sit in on more training as I am sure I missed things…"

Calendar that interacts with a target audience

We asked Mark what was one thing that he appreciated about Groupize while testing it first hand: "My favorite feature is that I can have two browser tabs open and flip between them to see what my audience would see and experience while I make changes to an event. Slick!"

In terms of improvements that we should do, Mark thinks that one area that he needs to look more into is the calendar and how it interacts with a target audience. " how someone makes a booking/registration, then imports the calendar information into their own personal calendar and then makes a change to their registration and sees that change is reflected in their personal calendar. This self-serve aspect would save a huge amount of administrative overhead," said Mark.

Attendance tracking feature

Any final thoughts? "I look forward to learning more about the attendance tracking feature which Groupize said that they would customize for our short recurring educational events. Attendance is important as it is used for professional credits. The built-in search function for Administrative level users includes a user data export function which will be a huge help to many in FoMD. It is our goal to be able to search on an individual and then export a report detailing every event that that user attended," added Mark.

Conference Services assisting internal and external groups with online registration

Once implemented, initial questions about Groupize will be handled by Conference Services. We reached out to Michelle Hoyle, Conference Services Supervisor, to find out her experience with the recently deployed super user training and how she feels about the new software addition." Conference Services will be working with both U of A and external groups assisting with on-line registration for their events. We will also be providing financial reconciliation for all events that are charging a fee," said Michelle.

Michelle feels that Groupize is "very user friendly and can provide the service most events require. We have clients that host the same event each year and Groupize can easily copy the entire registration process over year after year. Definitely a time saver!"

Robust platform

One feature that Michelle likes about Groupize is that it "is very open to suggestions to make the platform more robust and able to manage a multitude of event types and requirements." As far as training went, Michelle thinks that it "was very informative. With as little as two hours of training, users can have their event up and running."

"I'm looking forward to working on the platform and discovering what it can do!" added Michelle.