Three Rivers Park District manages 27,000 acres with Jotform Enterprise

Three Rivers Park District in Minnesota serves 12.5 million visitors annually and promotes environmental stewardship through recreation and education. Park staff use Jotform Enterprise to track inspections of remote areas, streamline customer service, and improve employee collaboration.

“We manage almost 28,000 acres spread over an area about the size of Rhode Island,” says Simon Morgan, senior manager of GIS (geographic information system) and business applications, who leads their Jotform Enterprise installation. “We manage more land than Walt Disney World.”

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

The park maintains its own utilities, roads, and police department, plus numerous areas dedicated to community enrichment. There’s a lot to manage, including parks featuring sculptures, performance spaces, an educational farm, wilderness areas, and adaptive kayaking programs for people with disabilities.

“I’ve been working here for about 15 years now, and every day I learn something new,” says Morgan.

Read on to learn how Three Rivers Park District takes full advantage of the Jotform Enterprise platform to

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

Empowering employees to drive solutions with Jotform Enterprise

One of the things Morgan appreciates most about working for the Three Rivers Park District is the freedom to address challenges in creative ways.

The very reason we have Jotform Enterprise is because our boss allows us to explore different solutions, play around with them, test them out, and expand them if they prove to be good solutions.

Simon Morgan

While many organizations employ exhaustive evaluation processes before choosing a solution, Morgan and his team can be proactive, respond quickly, and scale. “It’s a great approach to take,” he says.

Finding a holistic, cohesive solution to meet diverse needs

Before using Jotform Enterprise, Three Rivers Park District used several products, none of which quite hit the mark. One system was solely for field workers on mobile devices. Another served their GIS team. Another was used because it was native to SharePoint, Microsoft’s internal collaboration tool.

Several of these systems had complex licensing terms, making them difficult to scale. While all of the disparate tools could produce a decent online form, getting the submission data where the staff wanted it was a pain point.

“We needed a solution that allowed us to store, manage, and manipulate information securely,” said Morgan. “It’s rare for data to stay in a data table. With Jotform Enterprise, we could easily integrate the data into our other systems.”

A lot of the park district’s data is collected by educators, groundskeepers, and inspection crews in the field. The staff disliked previous solutions because the data collection forms were difficult to fill out and they needed good cell reception to get fieldwork done.

Their focus and passion are to engage and educate the public and keep the parks safe. When it comes to technology, it just needs to work.

Simon Morgan

“Their focus and passion are to engage and educate the public and keep the parks safe,” said Morgan. “When it comes to technology, it just needs to work.”

In the spring of 2021, Three Rivers Park District engaged Jotform Enterprise to identify and solve a specific, recurring issue with their registration and point of sale (POS) system, which is used for everything from campsite reservations to purchasing food. Staff created a simple form using a unique QR code to gather data on system errors for each POS. When something went wrong, seasonal workers scanned the QR code, filled out the form with the data needed to determine what happened, and uploaded a picture of the POS screen. This process identified the root cause and helped solve the issue.

Jotform Enterprise has also enabled more team collaboration. Because everyone focuses on their own role, different things are important to each individual, yet it takes everyone to make the visitor experience the best it can be.

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

For example, the education team wants to maximize the availability of educational opportunities, so they don’t like to restrict how people register for programs. They want to be able to sell registrations by family, but due to system limitations, registrations must be a per-person purchase.

With the old system, teams tried to create workarounds to force the system to work their way. Morgan used Jotform Enterprise to build a program entry form with conditional logic, so the education team could quickly request new program listings. The marketing and IT teams could then add them to RecTrac (the recreation management software they use) and enable website registrations that were compliant with the system requirements. The marketing team can now also archive data, modify filters, and adjust form options to enforce deadlines for new program requests.

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

Because it works seamlessly and quickly, everyone is 100 percent happy with the new process.

Simon Morgan

Jotform Enterprise also helped Morgan’s team solve an issue with preserving registration data. Previously, anyone could make edits to the data after it was received through RecTrac, which caused problems with tracking and accounting. With Jotform Enterprise, the team can archive program entry data once it’s migrated to RecTrac, so the original submission data is preserved.

Saving time and managing security with single sign-on

Single sign-on (SSO) was a requirement when Three Rivers Park District was looking for an online form solution, since they use SSO frequently to prefill names and emails into forms. They use the Jotform Enterprise SSO Prefill feature on almost all of their internal forms and some approvals, which automatically supplies a respondent’s information (like name, email address, etc.) when they use their SSO credentials to sign in to Jotform.

The HR team, in particular, has benefitted from the prefill functionality. Every year, they bring in a mobile clinic to provide flu shots to employees. They previously managed appointments over email, which wasted a lot of time. Combining SSO Prefill with a Jotform Enterprise form, the process is simple, secure, and fast. “The person in charge used to dedicate hours to the project,” says Morgan. “Now they manage it in minutes.”

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

Scaling collaboration to ensure quality across a vast landscape

Maintaining an area the size of Rhode Island can be challenging, especially with legal requirements to inspect play areas daily and perform detailed inspections each season. Using Jotform Enterprise, Morgan’s team created a checklist-style inspection form with conditional logic that is used for every play area and displays only the relevant fields for the area selected.

Using the integration and automation capabilities of Jotform Enterprise, data flows directly to their asset management system once it’s submitted and marks the inspection completed.

Our asset management system is good, but the inspection process within it was cumbersome. Using Jotform Enterprise, the team can automate that process for users so they can focus on their job, not the administrative work behind it.

Simon Morgan

Another way Jotform Enterprise builds collaboration across the park district’s teams is by streamlining how seasonal staff gets the equipment they need to do their work. Using a form, Morgan’s team gets information from the people hiring the crews, so they’re set up correctly on day one.

The Conservation Corps of Minnesota hired to take care of national resources doesn’t go through our typical onboarding process, so we were always missing things. It’s reduced a lot of internal frustrations, which I consider a big win.

Simon Morgan

Maintaining equipment and facilities requires excellent coordination. The park district uses the approval workflow feature of Jotform Enterprise to enable employees to submit capital project proposals to fund (like new picnic shelters, for example) and the automation on the backend funnels the request through the appropriate channels to reduce turnaround times.

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

Using Jotform Enterprise Mobile to stay connected across 28,000 acres

The park’s vast field and maintenance staff has upgraded from Jotform Apps to Jotform Enterprise Mobile to conduct inspections and other tasks. Initially, staff had shortcuts to forms on their phones, and now they have direct access to a custom mobile app to record daily inspections of access roads, play areas, and more. The custom-built app makes it easier to pick the form they need and get work done.

Jotform Enterprise Mobile also improved reporting on cross-country ski trail conditions across teams. The field staff submits forms to indicate which trails are slushy, groomed, or ready to open. The data flows to park staff who update visitor center signs, alert the website and social media teams to announce new trail openings, and inform the district’s police department and maintenance staff so they know which trails to monitor and maintain.

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

“Our previous solution didn’t allow us to send out an update to everyone who needed the update in real time,” says Morgan. “These inspections need to be performed daily before we open the trails, so it has a huge impact on our customer experience.”

Some areas of the Three Rivers Park District require inspection but offer little to no cell phone coverage. Instead of the maintenance team waiting until they are in a building with Wi-Fi to fill out a form, they can capture data in remote areas and have it sync when they reconnect to service.

Morgan’s team is also excited to roll out their Jotform Enterprise Mobile app to the park’s guest services team. They plan to use it to gather leads at conferences promoting their wedding and event site services.

“Having a white-labeled app we can quickly open up to show potential customers our various parks and settings to host gatherings looks so professional,” says Morgan.

My team loves Jotform Enterprise. In the year since we started, we’ve created 132 forms.

Simon Morgan
Credit: Three Rivers Park District

Streamlining and automating inventory with Jotform Enterprise

Three Rivers Park District’s IT department adopted Jotform Enterprise for many processes. For example, they automated a multi-click, manual computer inventory process in their asset management system. Now, team members simply type in the unique number assigned to an asset, enter the total number of the asset in stock, and hit submit. A workflow updates everything on the backend in real time, speeding the process and giving the infrastructure manager better visibility of the district’s assets.

The team uses a similar workflow to inventory computers and technical equipment at their warehouse. If an asset is marked in poor condition, it triggers an email to the help desk from the person filling out the form and opens a ticket on their behalf.

Morgan’s team is also working on a form for caterers to apply to become a preferred park vendor. The form will manage the entire process, with automated emails to remind staff to get updated insurance and license information from the caterers, send email notifications, and integrate with the customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Easy data migration

Morgan’s team uses Jotform Enterprise and Zapier integrations to send data to their Cartegraph asset management system, Freshsales CRM system, Microsoft SQL Server, and email. The entire GIS team uses it for Esri’s ARCGIS solution. “We have forms creating data and updating our GIS,” says Morgan.

We plan to do even more. Jotform Enterprise is a great time-saving device. It’s just quicker to fill out a form.

Simon morgan

The people on Morgan’s team create about 85 percent of the park’s forms, and they all share their forms with each other. Sharing forms enables anyone to build or edit any form. When a form request comes in, Morgan reviews it and assigns it to a team member to create. If there’s an integration needed, they can have one team member work on the public-facing form design while another person works on the backend integration. 

Recently, I asked a member of my team if they had time to squeeze in a form request,” says Morgan. “They responded, ‘No, but Jotform is so easy and such a pleasure to use that I like taking those tickets to give me a break from my more intense and frustrating projects.

Converting skeptics and paper processes with one form

It’s common for people to be wary of change. When the education team at Three Rivers Park District was looking for a better way to manage paper medical forms for summer campers, the IT team suggested piloting Jotform’s Smart PDF forms at one site to make the shift from paper to online forms. The education team was hesitant to make the change at first, but it didn’t take long for them to see the benefits.

First, they were able to receive the campers’ information ahead of time. It was easier to look up information quickly, and there were no paper forms to lose. If a parent or guardian forgot to send in a form, a QR code made it easy to access and fill out the form on the spot.

We went from having a very skeptical response to the team asking us, ‘Why don’t we use Jotform everywhere?’ overnight.

Simon Morgan
Credit: Three Rivers Park District

“The Smart PDF form is one of my favorite features,” said Morgan. He even opened a personal Jotform account to manage a Girl Scout troop. Every year, parents had to fill out four different forms that asked basically the same information, so he combined them into one Jotform PDF form. “The parents love it,” he says.

Boosting compliance and collaboration with Jotform Enterprise

One of the hidden, powerful benefits of Jotform Enterprise is how it aligns teams and brings them together. “Our compliance is up across the board,” says Morgan.

The ease of online forms means people are now filling out the required forms, filling them out correctly, and not creating their own workarounds.

Additionally, teams work together better because the solution works for everyone.

Our marketing team is thrilled by how easy it is to create branded forms that look great. It used to take a long time, but with Jotform Enterprise, everyone on the team is happier and appreciates how much nicer the backend is compared to previous solutions. It makes my job easier.

Simon Morgan

It’s working so well that our IT and marketing teams have agreed to make Jotform Enterprise our standard for all public-facing forms.

Simon Morgan

“Instead of creating a jerry-rigged Microsoft form or Google form. they’re coming to us because they know the process is going to be smooth and quick, it’s going to work, and we can make a much more professional form,” he says.

“Our users no longer ask for forms, but specifically ask for Jotform,” said Morgan.

Increasing customer engagement with Jotform Enterprise

Three Rivers Park District dramatically changed how they engage the public using Jotform Enterprise. Previously the team managed reservations for their snow tubing hill using an Outlook calendar. It was a manual process to receive calls and enter requests into the calendar, and not everyone had access to the calendar.

Credit: Three Rivers Park District

They replaced that system with a form and now use the Calendar function in Jotform Tables, so everyone can access and manage group reservations in either a calendar or table view. They can print the calendar view to post which groups are coming on a particular day, create status fields, and more. “The team is using it like a miniature customer relationship management (CRM) tool,” says Morgan. “It’s increased their efficiency tremendously.”

Our ability to use Jotform Enterprise as a CRM tool has saved us thousands of dollars. Instead of moving a process to our CRM, we built an in-house solution with Jotform, saving us about $10,000 in CRM professional services and $5,000 in CRM licenses.

Simon Morgan

To encourage people to visit who may not usually come to the park, the team created a Parks to the People initiative. Many people don’t camp because they can’t afford the equipment. Morgan’s team created a lending library form so the public can request to borrow camping equipment, expanding the number of people who can take advantage of the community’s natural resources.

From team collaboration and mobile connectedness to increasing community access, Three Rivers Parks District is delivering on its mission with Jotform Enterprise.

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This article is originally published on Sep 20, 2022, and updated on Sep 27, 2022.
AUTHOR
Lainie is a marketing communications manager at Jotform. With a passion for content that moves audiences and builds communities, she’s written for global firms, small independents, and nonprofits. Outside of work, Lainie enjoys live music, gardening, travel, volunteering, and the outdoors. You can reach Lainie through her contact form.

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