Technology Training Uses Big Picture Thinking When Automating Facility Rentals
While renting a hands-on technology training classroom from University IT (UIT) might have seemed straightforward — you submitted an online form and UIT confirmed your reservation — the process wasn’t what most people would call automated. Fortunately, that recently changed thanks to a partnership between UIT, Stanford Earth, and the Registrar's Office.
What’s even better is that the work of that partnership can be leveraged by others with similar reservation and billing needs.
IT Unconference serendipity
In the old state, Technology Training performed a number of manual steps to allow someone to reserve one of its classrooms.
“Our clients could go online and complete a form, but after that it was one manual step after another for our staff,” said Liz Goesseringer, Technology Training’s manager. “We teach technology to Stanford staff everyday, yet we weren’t using it ourselves to the fullest extent possible.”
With automation on her mind, Goesseringer was inspired during a Stanford IT Unconference presentation. She discovered that Stanford Earth Web Developer Ken Sharp had developed a web frontend for a Drupal-based website that interfaced with 25Live, Stanford's online room-reservation system.
Goesseringer continued her quest for automation by contacting the Registrar’s Office, which manages 25Live, to determine if 25Live would be a suitable tool for Technology Training’s classroom reservation needs. She found support from Sarah Cho, assistant university registrar, and the two worked together to verify that 25Live could indeed accommodate the business rules for Technology Training’s classroom rentals.
Then, UIT Developer Jeanmarie Lucker joined forces to architect an overall solution for Goesseringer. By extending 25Live to include additional fields and workflow, a separate database was not needed for this project because all the data and logic is handled by 25Live. Additionally, Lucker leveraged an Oracle application interface that allows Technology Training to easily verify and bill stanford accounts for classroom reservations while eliminating the need for a datastore to hold PTA information.
Based on this architecture, Cho stepped in to customize and configure 25Live by adding the necessary data fields, service accounts, and new roles to support this integration. Sharp extended his original module to support real-time PTA validation within Drupal. Senior Web Developer Marco Wise of UIT Communications was then able to leverage Sharp’s Drupal module to tie together the Technology Training website and 25Live. Throughout the entire process, project manager Lydia Barrett of IT Services kept everyone organized, on track, and working towards the end goal.
The Drupal interface with 25Live automated much of the process and gave Technology Training access to new tools to help administer and manage its classrooms. Combined, the integrated work of these university staff members created a faster and improved way for clients to get a reservation (complete with an interactive calendar to display classroom availability), and an automated way for Technology Training to complete the related process.
Making it available to others
As the developers contributed to the deliverable, they were deliberate in making the Drupal module and how it interfaces with 25Live and Oracle shareable to the broader Stanford community. This means others at Stanford can leverage that work to automate similar processes. This is significant because there is a broad need across campus for easy booking and billing of resources.
“It’s useful to anyone who wants to provide a self-service reservation system for rooms or other resources that can be rented,” Sharp said. “Essentially, it is a new and expanded way to use a Drupal website to leverage a couple of other widely used Stanford tools in an automated way.”
To reserve a Technology Training classroom, or for information about other Technology Training services, visit techtraining.stanford.edu/facilityrentals.
For information about 25Live, available to any campus department, contact Sarah Cho in the Registrar’s Office.
For information on the Drupal module mentioned in this article, contact Ken Sharp.
For additional information on this project, contact Liz Goesseringer.