Building Automation 301: Room Scheduling

Meeting Schedule

Meeting Schedule

Meeting Schedule

Your meeting space needs have grown past the capabilities of the Yellow Sticky Note on the door, and you are looking into how you might effectively manage the spaces. However you are not certain what a good Room Scheduler should include? This is a very loaded question, because there are so many different needs. Most folks can ask these questions and narrow down what their real needs include;

  1. Do you want a cloud based application or a local server based application?
    1. If you just want to schedule the space then a cloud based solution is a great low cost option.
    2. If you need room automation to be linked to the scheduling then you need a local solution that will live on your network and can talk to all the rooms.
  2. Are you scheduling to track resource usage or to manage resources efficiently?
    1. If you need to know how often a space is used, or you are short of space and need to manage it more efficiently then Utilization needs to be a product feature.
    2. If your needs are modest and only for resource management then MS Outlook continues to quietly dominate meeting scheduling and may be your answer.
    3. If you need to schedule a classroom campus then you have a totally different need and should look at classroom solutions for the different features required for a school campus.
  3. You may also need to request food, AV gear, and other special items at time of scheduling.
  4. Don’t forget meeting notifications and reminders for participants.
  5. Do you need permissions to over-ride a meeting?
  6. If you have a lot of rooms then you may need to search for one that meets your needs.
  7. If you hold VTC or ATC meetings then you may want to schedule all the needed rooms at one time, so searching by city and room ability is important.

There are a lot of great online and server based resource schedulers out there today, and many of them have integration hooks that greatly expand on the abilities of the products. However, there is also a strong likely hood that you have a resource scheduler on hand already and don’t know it (if you are on a campus or in a building 50,000 sqft or larger). If you answered “Exchange Server” that was a good guess, but you need to stop thinking small as in rooms, but instead think about the fact the room is part of a building. While web based room schedulers have only been around for about 15 years, buildings have been scheduling resources since the first building automation package was introduced and they are very good at it. What is even better is they will not only make your room utilization more efficient, they will help make the room more energy efficient. Look up one of the most popular resource schedulers in the world that you Never heard of – Tridium’s Niagara. Nope don’t own stock but have watched this product become the dominate product in open building automation, and I strongly believe facility managers are not being made aware of the gold mine sitting right in their office.

Reader Home Work Assignments:

As CTO of a top 10 national AV integrator Richard envisioned and managed the development of Global Scheduling Solutions – the first web/cloud based AV Resource manager. GSS won numerous awards and accolades for it’s innovation and flexibility. It was later sold and eventually became the Tandberg Room Scheduler.