Guide to Choosing Conference Room Scheduling Software – Part 1
You’re new to shopping for conference room scheduling software and don’t exactly know where to start?
We’ve written a handy guide that will help you figure out what features you do and do not need. Some software out there is jam packed with tons of features and technology. Other solutions are pretty light and simple. And then there’s a whole lot in between. If you’re not sure what your requirements are or what you really need, take a look through this list of important questions to ask. Make sure you get the conference room scheduling software that you really need. This is the first in a four part series designed to help you figure out which conference room scheduling software system will be perfect for you and your office.
Outlook and Exchange Server Integration
Many firms run on MS Outlook and Exchange servers. Is yours one of them? Do you need to have Outlook integration? Many firms are accustomed to scheduling rooms and resources through Outlook. Often this kind of integration adds cost to both the software license and the setup. Is this something your firm really needs? Are you clear on what benefit it provides you? Often we’ve found that firms want this feature simply because they’ve always had it. Though nobody is sure what benefit it provides them.
Room Display Information and Check In
Many conference room scheduling software solutions include an option for syncing and displaying with a digital display. It is next to the door to the room, typically on an iPad or similar device. On these screens you can see information about upcoming and current reservations, including who the next or current user is. How many people are using it, and the schedule of that meeting. If the room is unoccupied or not reserved, you can see how long it will be available. When the display says that a meeting is supposed to occur, but nobody is in there, you can see if the meeting can be canceled.
Lastly, having roomside displays enables users to check into a room. If nobody checks into the room, the system can make the room available in the schedule. This prevents rooms from being wasted by having reservations that nobody shows up to. Systems that are compatible with an ipad conference room display are typically web-based, though sometimes they’re also app-based.
What kind of security does your team need? The big question to ask here is what kind of data you’re storing. Typically most people store basic information like the date and time of the reservation, the name of the room, number of occupants, and who reserved the room. As far as visibility goes, the most basic systems typically display the names of rooms, how many people they hold, and when they are available. As long as none of this information is something you’re worried about, you probably don’t need any special security. If you’re storing things like electronic files for each meeting, wifi passwords, and other things that you’d generally not share, you may want to look at systems that offer log-in credentialing steps.
Roles and Permissions
This feature allows you to restrict or enable certain abilities to specific people in your organization. If you have rooms that have special equipment that you only want certain people accessing, or you have special rooms that are reserved for certain people, then you’ll want to make sure your conference room scheduling software allows you to control roles and permissions. On the other hand, if you want anyone to access any room and don’t want to meter who gets to use what, this might not be a necessary feature.
If you have an incredibly active operations or real estate team who are constantly analyzing data, you may want to get access to how your conference rooms are being used. This data can help you determine if you need to reduce the size of your rooms. So that you can have more rooms, grow your overall capacity, change furniture or technology installations in each room, and make a host of other decisions that help you improve your office space usage.
This data can also help you identify how people are using meeting rooms. If, for example, you see quite a few salespeople reserving rooms for just one person, you may have identified a need for phone booths so that they can take calls in private. This is pretty common in open floor plan offices. Having that data will help support the decision to invest in the phone booths. The data can also identify if people are not showing up to their reservations. This allows you to have a conversation with them so that they only reserve rooms that they’re actually going to use, which in turn leaves the rooms open for other people to use.