The spirit of this year’s UGC: Fewer lectures, more dialogue
After a fun-filled Monday evening at the Excellence Awards dinner and celebration — complete with a magician and Elvis Presley impersonators — the group of mostly healthcare and higher education professionals who had assembled for this year’s UGC continued to learn and share their knowledge about CBORD’s technology. Application training sessions remained in high demand, and the conference’s remaining caucus on CS Access was spirited and insightful.
“I found all of the caucuses to be my favorite part,” said one attendee. “I’m new to my position, and this is my first time at UGC, so it’s really helping me put together all the pieces.”
Ilisha Graham from the University of San Francisco brought several members of her team to Las Vegas. Although she had been to UGC many times, this was the first for a few of her colleagues. “I come back every year because I really enjoy the discussions with other people in my same position,” she said. Graham’s team split up most of the sessions in order to divide and conquer, especially since enrollment for the hands-on training classes was limited to one per day per person to keep classes intimate and productive. The Odyssey Plan Configuration training was particularly helpful for her staff, she said.
“Whether I was in a caucus or a training, I always felt like I could speak up,” said first-time attendee Stephanie Heim, one of Graham’s new hires at the University of San Francisco. “Not to take the name of CBORD’s feedback portal, but I felt like I had a lot of a-ha! moments.”
In addition to the application trainings and caucuses, session topics focused on how to meet increasing student/patient/resident service requirements despite increasing costs and labor shortages. The consensus: leverage automation to do more with less. Foodservice and security administrators across acute care, universities, K-12 systems, and senior living campuses shared how they transitioned their institutions to automated systems, then expanded capabilities. From budgets, obstacles, roll-out strategies, adoption rates, analytics, and more, the discussions got into the details of how these undertakings were accomplished. Each meeting felt more like an open talk on “how to” and not a sales presentation, although the majority of the panelists concluded with sincere endorsements.
For example, Mark McKenna of the University of Vermont, Melanie Chambless of Auburn University, and Mike Henderson of the University of Tennessee all highly recommended going mobile for campus credentials, payments, and keys. “When the pandemic hit, we looked like we’d predicted,” joked McKenna. Since his university had adopted mobile technology prior to quarantine, many of the chip supply-chain shortages did not affect them, and the need for face-to-face contact with students to obtain credentials was not an issue because they could just download an app.
Serving Clients with Transparency
Other informative panels included the housing strategy panel — which addressed and uncovered problems that many audience members could relate to — along with a CBORD leadership discussion and a product team meeting. CBORD President and CEO Jim Hoefflin discussed some of the company’s biggest challenges, with finding and retaining the best talent at the top of the list. All the questions — and in some cases, complaints — were met with openness and humility as a testament to CBORD’s goal of serving its clients with transparency. Lorena Harris, CBORD’s new vice president of marketing, emphasized the commitment to communication and said she was impressed by the level of collaboration and feedback at the conference. “We have heard you loud and clear, and we need to let you know that we’ve heard you and tell you what we’re going to do about it,” she said. “You are passionate about us, and we are passionate about you, and it’s a communication issue we can solve.”
The next CBORD UGC is scheduled for Oct. 29-Nov. 1, 2023, at Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in Round Rock, Texas.