By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
Automation is one of the great conveniences in the modern workplace. The ability to take a singular user input and process a desired effect with little-to-no human interaction saves time and helps everything run smoothly. Nowhere is this more evident than in conference room scheduling software. At a time when agile workplaces are on the rise and time is more precious than ever, automated conference booking software makes finding a space, inviting attendees, and collaborating simple.
Like all forms of technology, automation is great…when it works. When it doesn’t, it can cause far more problems than it solves. It’s critical to set up automated conference room booking software the right way the first time. Thankfully, facility managers using a modern Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) like SpaceIQ shouldn’t have any trouble. Room booking software is as easy to deploy as it is intuitive to use.
Here’s a look at what it takes to get conference room scheduling software up and running in your workplace, so employees can start taking advantage of the many benefits it offers.
Step 1: Integrate with facilities management software
Facilities management software is a must-have for room booking. Managing each room digitally enables automation, providing necessary booking variables. If each conference room has a digital twin, employees can bridge the gap between their physical needs and the digital booking process.
Label each bookable room in the IWMS, creating the booking variable. Make sure to use a simple, memorable conference room naming convention so employees can locate and book the room they need. Be sure to include all important variables about the room in a quick-reference profile—space size, IT amenities, location, and any other pertinent facts.
Step 2: Integrate with employee-facing software
Once the room’s digital twin exists in the IWMS, connect meeting room booking software to the employee-facing tools used to book it. This might include anything from a company intranet portal to integration with a messaging app like Slack. This is where the request is submitted to the IWMS for processing, and where employees receive confirmation or rebuttal.
Remember, employee-facing software is merely the medium; the IWMS is at the heart of the automation. Syncing everything through an IWMS ensures seamless booking, no matter what method someone uses. If someone books Conference Room A at 2p.m. on Tuesday through Slack, someone trying to book the same room at the same time through their calendar app needs to see it’s already reserved. Central processing through an IWMS coordinates requests through all channels.
Step 3: Establish booking methods
After you establish booking channels, qualify booking methods. This is where automated room scheduling software shines—it allows companies to control the room booking process, creating an ordered framework.
For example, an intranet web portal may ask for the following variables when booking a room: date, time, room name, booking length, person reserving, emails of invitees. Using this information, the IWMS checks and confirms the booking using the date, time, name, and length variables; then, emails confirmations to all attendees. Or, consider booking through Slack. A person might type “/reserve” into a channel, generating a list of rooms nearby, with options to book different lengths of time. Clicking a time prompts an action to invite others using a quick “@person” command, and each person gets a notification of where and when the meeting is.
Each medium has its own method, and it’s important to structure these methods based on how you want the automated booking software to function.
Step 4: Advocate conference room booking
There’s no sense in having automated conference room booking if no one uses it. Encourage employees to take advantage of time-saving booking processes whenever they need to reserve a room. Send out a memo outlining each booking medium, create booking SOPs, and let department leaders set the example in using them.
Step 5: Quantify room usage and learn
Room booking software not only automates the process, it quantifies room usage. Through insights collected by the IWMS, facility managers can see which rooms are in demand and which aren’t regularly utilized. These insights prompt questions that help shape the workplace. Why aren’t people using Conference Room C? Do we need more collaborative spaces due to high booking volume? Are we leasing space we don’t need?
Paying attention to conference room booking data puts facility managers in control of the workplace, while reducing the everyday demand of having to coordinate how people use facilities. By automating room booking they can turn their attention to ensuring space is properly used and make adjustments where it’s not.
With a good digital ecosystem already in place, it doesn’t take much to get automated conference room scheduling software up and running. Once it is, keep advocating its use among employees and use the data it provides to continually make workspaces more accessible. Then, start to consider what other workplace processes might benefit from simple automations.
Keep reading: Six Pillars of Conference Room Etiquette