Future of Work

How to Choose Meeting Room Scheduling Software

As offices evolve from cubicles to workplaces that are molded for its employees, more and more conversations are being had on the different kinds of workplace tech and their ROI.

What’s the ROI of room scheduling software? It’s different for each company, but it’s the difference between knowing, and not knowing what’s happening in your office.

Here are some challenges of the modern day office:

  • No show and double booked meetings
  • Long meetings, low RSVP rates, folks that book more meetings than they attend
  • Matching amenities that employees will use with their ideal room size
  • An eight-person board room that never gets used, filled with fancy chairs
  • Insights. How is the office being used?

Features of Workplace Technology

When it comes to the features of vendors in the workplace technology space, and in particular, room booking systems, it’s important to understand each ingredient.

Platforms vs. Digital Signage

There are a few ways to look at the options for room scheduling software:

  • Are they tablet focused or platform-focused?
  • Do they lead with and promote the tablets? Or are tablets an ingredient in a larger platform play that helps you better manage your workplace?
  • Does their feature set align with the goals of your organization?

It all depends on your use case and problem you’re setting out to solve. Tablet-focused vendors are great for employees, with features like future booking events and being able to interact with maps right from the room displays.

Platforms bring that toolset, along with enhanced admin tools, like catering, device management and real-time analytics reports.

Room Displays

Like lots of technology companies, the room booking ecosystem is filled with either software or hardware-based vendors. And there are pros and cons to each, so let’s take a quick peek under the hood.

Proprietary hardware is owned and produced by the vendor, usually complementing the software bit that they also own and manage. The benefits of this usually surround the installation and onboarding, as well as training. However, these can be sunk costs if the hardware fails, given the vendor is responsible for maintenance. Proprietary systems also cannot update their systems as quickly as software-based ones, given the nature of going right to the cloud.

App-based, or software only vendors tend to be much more affordable and nimble, as you can choose your own adventure with hardware (Kindle Fires vs. iPads), and maintenance costs are much cheaper. There is also custom theming and onboarding documentation right out of the box along with much more flexible integrations with how you work.

Regardless of what you think is the right path to take, it all depends on your budget, and the problem you’re looking to solve as an organization.

Analytics and Room Occupancy

Data. We all love data. At the heart of why we purchase the software or hardware that these vendors sell is to better understand the office and how employees are using the space. From meeting length to average meetings per day to what kinds of rooms house the most meetings, there are a lot of invaluable insight that can be gained.

Here are some questions these vendors can help you answer:

  • How long are your average meetings?
  • What rooms hold the most meetings? And what amenities are used most?
  • Are spaces under or over utilized based on capacity and number of meeting attendees?

Admin Tools and Customizable Themes

These are some of the things that matter most to admins. Whether it’s an office manager, executive assistant or IT, having the additional tools to manage, monitor and maximize the system you implement is key.

Here’s a bit to digest, in terms of what kinds of tools I’m talking about:

  • Permissioning settings (this room can only be booked by certain people)
  • Device vitals and reporting room issues (are tablets online? Is the TV broken?)
  • Customizing the look and feel of the tablet to match the branding/personality of the room or company
  • Catering, meeting services and integrations (Slack, BlueJeans, WebEx, etc)

Each vendor has their own set of tools and integrations, so it’s important to understand what REALLY matters, vs. what are just “nice to haves” in terms of how you’re going to use the system. Ordering croissants can feel seamless with one vendor, but I would then ask, how often are you really ordering croissants?

Mobile Apps

This might just be the icing on the cake, and not everyone does it so we’ll keep this section relatively short. Mobile apps can be great for a few reasons:

  • Detection room occupancy
  • Booking rooms based on location
  • A quick reference of where your meeting is

Better Insight, More Answers

In a recent report conducted by PGi, the leader in web conferencing and collaboration technology, it was noted that more and more companies are moving towards utilizing Ambient Intelligence Technologies, where an environment of devices and networks can anticipate and react to where and how you work.

Here’s a soundbite on why that’s important:

“From there, users are in an environment of personalized notifications and room recommendations based on the space you’re visiting or the space you’re in — we call them location-based superpowers.”

Executives and those in charge of shaping the future of workplace technologies are paying more attention to these sorts of things at a macro level, and at a micro level, how employees are using the space inside of the office.

The Goal

Organizations invest in room scheduling software for a variety of reasons: it solves an immediate problem, it complements an initiative of streamlining a process, or it’s part of a bigger plan to automate and improve an aspect of the workplace longer term. Wherever your search falls, it’s important to think about what’s important to you.

That’s why we put together this buyer’s guide, to give you more information.