Accurate roster records are an important part of any Engage community. They allow organization officers and campus administrators to quickly message current organization members, review organization alumni, and reliably report on organization membership. With all administrators are managing during an average school year, maintaining strong and accurate roster records can be a challenge. We have worked with hundreds of campuses to develop the following tips and tricks for getting the most out of your roster tool.
1. Examine the timing of your registration process.
Most campuses use the registration process to prompt students to update their organization rosters on a regular basis. If rostering is an important part of your process, it is important to schedule registration at a time students will be reasonably confident in their rosters. For many campuses, this is at the end of the year after organization officer election, if scheduling registration annually, or the start of a term if scheduling registration by semester, trimester, or quarter. You might also take into consideration the time period when you typically need membership data to be the most accurate and schedule registration shortly before that point in order to ensure it is freshly completed for your records.
Some campuses find that they get better roster records if they hold registration more frequently than once a year, while others find this practice overwhelms their students. If running registration multiple times in a year, you might also not need both registrations to be equally complex. For example, you may have one registration that is very robust, with a mid-year check-in registration that only asks for updated roster information. Consider your campus culture and brainstorm with your consultant to determine if registration is happening at the right time and frequency for you.
2. Include roster management in organization training.
The roster process within registrations is simple and intuitive, but we don’t want this to be the only way students know how to update their rosters. Students should be able to update their rosters as changes happen. Training students on the roster tool also teaches students how to manage their positions, create unique positions specific to their organization, and rename their available position templates if applicable.
It is important for students to understand the customization tools they have available. If the roster step in registration is not relatable to the terms the organization uses, they will be less motivated to complete the step accurately. Imagine for instance that the Baking Club has co-presidents, not just one president. If the student completing the registration does not see an option to mark this accurately on their roster, they might get confused and only list one president, leaving the other president simply a member. This leaves you with inaccurate information about position holders on your campus.
If you are concerned students will not remember this information by the time of training, you can always include an instructional step in registration that explains your expectations for the roster step and other ways the organization can customize their roster.
3. Help students see how roster management helps them.
Take time when training students on the roster tool to also show them our Messaging tool, a tool that may give students an extra incentive to keep their rosters accurate. Gone are the days of managing complex spreadsheets or listservs! As long as students keep their rosters up to date, they can use the messaging tool to message their members collectively or by position.
You might also want to let students know that keeping accurate roster records will help their organization manage alumni more accurately as well.
4. Build roster management into your processes.
The more the administrator uses Engage, the more important roster management becomes for students. The simplest application of this concept is preventing students from managing an organization page in Engage without being listed as an officer, but there are many ways you can advance this concept to the next level.
For example, if funding request deadlines are messaged to Treasurers using the community Messaging tool, organizations will need to have their treasurers listed accurately in order to request funds. Similarly, if organization advisors are configured as event reviewers, organizations will need to have their advisor listed accurately in order to have their events approved. Incorporating position-based processes as much as possible into Engage will encourage students to keep records up-to-date.
5. Check your assignment of position templates and organization type requirements.
In addition to allowing students to customize their rosters, you ideally want to have the roster already set up as accurately for students as possible to minimize the amount of extra work they have to do, simultaneously maximizing your reporting potential. You can accomplish this by strategically separating out your organization types and assigning them unique position templates. Doing so will make the roster step more easily navigable for students. For example, require your club sports organizations to fill Captain and Coach positions, but don't ask them to fill a position of Senator or New Member Educator. Similarly, for your Media & Arts organizations, you might require they fill an Editor or Director position, but do not require a Chapter President. By taking the time to specialize and separate positions, you’ll also give yourself greater specification of roles to consider when messaging or reporting by position template.
Not sure what kind of position templates you might need to create and assign for your campus? Try pulling the “Involved Users” report (Admin -> Configure -> Reports -> Involved Users) and filtering to view only organization-created positions. These are positions students have created because there was no template available for them. If you see consistency in positions being created, this might indicate that position would make a strong template in your community.
6. Consider if you might need to archive users.
If you haven’t archived users in a long time, completing roster management can be a daunting task for student organization leaders, who could have a number of names on their rosters they might not even recognize. If you are rolling out a plan to encourage updated rosters, you may first want to process a user archive of students who have graduated or otherwise left the institution. An archive will give your students a fresh start to help them keep better records moving forward.
If you don’t want to process a user archive, you can also explore simply end-dating memberships. End-dating can be accomplished by membership, by organization, or in a bulk import. End-dating allows you to end a membership for a student without archiving their profile.
7. Incentivize accurate roster completion.
Finally, if your campus is committed to accurate roster collection, you may also want to incentivize it directly for your students. Campuses can accomplish this using creative methods of gamification or simply linking an accurate Engage presence to organization funding, event submissions, or access to other features. Talk to your consultant to brainstorm additional ideas!