Minnesota Hillel is a Jewish student organization at the University of Minnesota that offers a variety of programs and activities that are designed to provide students with a sense of community, help them connect with their heritage, and encourage them to explore their identity. In addition to providing a space for Jewish students to connect with one another, Minnesota Hillel also works to build bridges between the Jewish community and the broader campus community. The organization hosts interfaith events and partnerships with other student organizations to promote dialogue and understanding between different groups.
Located in the heart of the University of Minnesota, the Hillel building can be found a few blocks from campus, right next to the University of Minnesota's fraternity and sorority houses. It features a large event space, a kosher kitchen, a library, and several smaller meeting rooms. The event space is used for a variety of events and activities; including Shabbat dinners, holiday celebrations, guest lectures, social events, and volunteer opportunities. The kosher kitchen allows for the preparation of traditional Jewish meals, and it is supervised by a rabbi to ensure that all food meets kosher standards. The organization's central location and modern amenities make it a welcoming and accessible space for students to gather and connect with one another.
“We needed a way to seamlessly track attendance for our student events,”
says Elie Simon, Administrative & Logistics Coordinator at Minnesota Hillel. “We previously had students write down the names of everyone as they entered, but this took students away from the event.” With events that could have over 100 attendees arriving around the same time, there was often a large bottleneck as people entered, and it took a lot of time to get everyone through the door.
“We did not have a detailed or consistent process for visitors to check in. We wanted a solution that was efficient, detailed, and enabled us to see who attended our events.“
As they found their way to the root of their problem, Minnesota Hillel reflected on some of the biggest pain points of their outdated process:
It was time consuming: Attendees had to wait in line to check in, and organizers had to spend a lot of time manually collecting attendance data.
It was inconsistent: Because the paper-based system relied on students writing down names, it was prone to errors and inconsistencies. Some students misspelled names or forgot to write down attendees, leading to incomplete or inaccurate attendance records.
It was disruptive: It required students to take time away from the event to check attendees in, taking away from the event experience.
It provided limited insights: Organizers had limited insights into attendance patterns and trends. They didn’t have access to detailed data, and weren’t able to easily analyze attendance records to inform future event planning.
As Minnesota Hillel weighed the problems and pain points that they faced, they knew they needed to begin their search and find the right solution.
Realizing the magnitude and scope of their problem, the first thing that Minnesota Hillel did was turn to their trusted systems integrator: Aron Caryl and his team at Westco Systems.
“It all boils down to relationships and who you trust,”
says Sam Loria, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Savance. “When you have problems that impact essential systems and operations, knowing the right integrator is essential.” A good integrator is able to get to the root of their clients’ problems and pain points and architect a cohesive solution that leverages essential technology and infrastructure.
“We needed a solution that would work with our current systems,”
says Elie Simon. After turning to Aron Caryl and Westco Systems, Aron was immediately able to connect the dots and leverage his partnerships with Prodatakey and Savance.
“They have hundreds of student members that have access to the building throughout the school year,” he says. “They’re pretty security conscious, so it’s important for them to know who is coming into the building.” Having a clear picture of every person that walks into a building is a challenge without the right technology and infrastructure. For most organizations, that data is buried or siloed at best with the systems they have in place. When Aron reached out to Savance to discuss integrating Savance Workplace with PDK to create a solution for Minnesota Hillel, he painted a pretty vivid picture of how big the hurdle was:
“it is a mad dash to gain entry into the building.”
The problems that Minnesota Hillel faced are pretty common, and the best solutions require a modern tech stack that is built around partnerships and a future-proof ecosystem that puts the user experience first. Thanks to the new tech stack designed by Westco Systems, Minnesota Hillel is now able to streamline and automate the process of checking people in as they enter the facility with PDK’s access control system and Savance Workplace’s visitor management system.
“We needed a solution that could work with our existing systems,” says Elie Simon. For events, many attendees would pre-register through the One Table platform. Thanks to the interoperability of Savance Workplace and PDK, event attendees are now easily imported from One Table, with their credentials and access automatically granted for events. If attendees have already been pre-registered, they’re able to use their mobile credentials at a PDK Touch io Reader when they arrive on site.
“Thanks to the integration of PDK and Savance, attendees are now able to check themselves into events by simply tapping the reader and walking in the door,”
says Sam Loria. If someone hasn’t pre-registered for an event, they’re still able to check-in without losing a step using a custom designed Savance kiosk. “Signing in at the kiosk is as quick as scanning your license or ID,” says Sam Loria.
Quickly realizing what their new integrated system was capable of, Minnesota Hillel was also able to start adding value to additional processes without having to reinvent the wheel - optimizing their visitor experience during open hours and managing private events in their meeting rooms. “When you have a visitor management system that is seamlessly integrated with your access control system, it gives you the foundation you need to streamline essential operations like entering a facility, no matter who walks through the door or what their requirements are”.
When it comes to implementing a new system, there are times that curveballs can’t be avoided. Having the right people behind you makes a world of a difference: “Savance and PDK integrated with our current systems, which made the implementation and resulting processes much easier. Savance has a great team of people that are very responsive and helpful,” says Elie Simon. “Our tech, Sam Lynn, was patient and extremely helpful. On multiple occasions he hopped onto a Zoom meeting with me and talked me through what was needed.“
In today’s world, it’s hard to get a hold of a real person when you run into a problem and need help right away; but one of the core values at Savance is putting people and success first. That is something that Sam Loria finds most admirable about Prodatakey as well:
“PDK sets a new standard for service and support. You’re working with some of the best people in the industry, and they stand behind their product. If you need something and give them a call, you’ll be talking to a person that you can trust in less than a minute,”
says Sam Loria. Elie Simon agrees, “PDK, Westco, and Savance are very responsive when I have an issue and genuinely want to teach me how to fix problems as they come up, rather than doing it for me. The team is extremely attentive and very helpful.”
By automating their processes and ensuring that people are properly accounted for, Savance and PDK were able to not only solve Minnesota Hillel’s initial problems and pain points, but start to add value with additional solutions.
“The visitor kiosk has been flawless! As an organization, we feel much better now that visitors are required to check in. Savance, PDK, and Westco helped us to not only keep track of visitors coming in and out of the building, but also to pull reports and see who attended our events,”
says Elie Simon. “It saves us a lot of time not having to track down a paper list and interpret it.“
With Savance Workplace’s custom reporting engine, Minnesota Hillel is now able to get the insight they need to have true accountability of their facilities. Sam Loria couldn’t be more grateful that the results speak for themselves,
“Thanks to our partnerships, Savance, PDK, and Westco are able to ensure Minnesota Hillel’s success and inform their decision making moving forward with data that wasn’t available beforehand.”
PDK + Savance
We sit down with Sam Loria from Savance to talk about visitor management and access control.
ProdataKey (PDK) is a leading innovator of networked cloud-based access control products and services. The company’s mobile-first PDK io cloud platform allows for complete system management and control through any web-connected device, anywhere, anytime. With thousands of systems managing tens of thousands of doors for a quickly expanding base of loyal customers throughout North America and beyond, PDK delivers an unparalleled user experience as well as the highest levels of security, safety, and data privacy.