Advanced meeting scheduling ; Let us compare various tools

Introduction

Scheduling meetings is not always easy… Trying to find agenda darts with multiple participants can be a process where a lot of mails are being sent from/to all directions. Over the course of time, I have tried out several tools to help me on this front ;

In today’s post, we’ll take a look at the various options and give you a bit of an insight into the workings of each.

 

FindTime

FindTime started out as a “garage“-project. In essence it is an outlook plugin that feels like a Doodle for an enterprise context. You can add one directly from outlook, with using the “New Meeting Poll”-button ;

Once you selected this, an additional pane will open up on the side showing you the possible agenda slots ;

Tip ; Smoother scheduling will happen if you respect your colleagues agenda. If you add a contact from your own organization, you then you’ll see a color code on the person icons.

Grey being the external contact, where green indicates a free time (and red being busy). Now select the ones you want to propose, and press next…

Where you will be able to insert the FindTime poll into your email.

Which will look like this… 😉

Once the attendees vote, you’ll see a similar flow as this ;

Where you can then opt to schedule the meeting, which will automatically send out an invite to all the attendees (teams enabled if selected!).

 

Bookings

Booking is part of Office 365, where it has been designed to help out to ease up the scheduling with clients. Think of things like a doctor, hairdresser, garage, …

Though it can be tweaked in various ways to cater to your needs too. And that is something that has to be clear from the beginning here… This option does need some setup.

Where you can add “employees”…

And “services”…

Which you can then publish to a reservation page ;

Where customers can then choose a service and schedule it…

Tip ; The organization name you had initially chosen cannot be changed… So choose wisely. 😉

 

Scheduler

Scheduler has been in preview for a while and is a kind of virtual assistant that takes over the typical mail flow when trying to schedule.

You add “cortana” to the email thread and (s)he finds the “intent” of how you want to see things scheduled.

And afterwards you’ll get confirmation that she takes over…

Stating the options she sent out…

Which is then sent out to the participants.

 

Closing Thoughts

So what do I use?

  • Simple Scheduling => Bookings
    • Only one party outside of yourself that does the scheduling
    • The context is of the meeting is very straight forward
  • Complex Scheduling => FindTime
    • Multiple to many participants that need to be present/included in the scheduling
    • The context of the meeting is outside of a standard delivery or open talk

I do not use the scheduler option. The biggest downside to it was that I could not control it towards a bit more intelligent proposals and that it could not handle the option matrix of having lots of participants well. FindTime handles the multiple participants without a hassle. It is awesome at that! Bookings is great for the “When do you have a bit of time for me?” or “Can you deliver session X for group Y?” kind of situations. So in reality the majority of my scheduling goes via FindTime, where Bookings helps me optimize the administrative burden even more (as I just send out a link, as opposed to setting up a poll)…

I hope this helps you in your scheduling journey! Feedback & other suggestions are always welcome of course!

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