The sophisticated specialist software available to manage meeting room allocation and use makes life much easier for organisers, allows maximum use of facilites and provides visitors with the best possible impression
by Paul Statham
06 October 2006
Meeting rooms are at the centre of important office activity, just like client liaising and decision making. People form impressions about your business through meetings so it's essential that room use is controlled in the best way possible.
There are several common ways used to manage meeting room booking but more companies are opting for specialist web-based room-booking solutions to manage meeting rooms because they see it as a strategic plan to effectively manage assets.
There is a genuine level of frustration and annoyance over an everyday task that should be very straightforward. Unsurprisingly, the majority of meeting organisers, when asked, said a specialist application would help them in the planning of meetings.
A room-booking solution is software that runs on your company's intranet or the internet. Managing your meeting room facilities with a single solution is the current working style that leads to a professional, smooth running business.
1 The single solution
Managing your meeting facilities with a single solution is the current working style that leads to a professional, smooth-running business. The right specialist solution will:
Meeting room solutions can work for small companies with a handful of meeting rooms as well as multinational businesses with suites of rooms situated all over the globe. The best meeting room booking systems will be able to adapt to the way you and your business works. Whether you let users book rooms, catering and associated equipment in a self-serve environment, or let the client team manage all incoming bookings and allocate rooms manually, there are systems available that will benefit your business.
2 Choose the right company and product
Check out the website, visit the offices, meet the team, including the client support team, read the literature and get testimonials and references from existing clients. What exactly does your company want to achieve with a new system? Do you need a managed, part-managed or self-managed product? Are there any companies that are flexible and can combine, tweak or change when you need it? Find a company that focuses on using the best technology and has the resources to develop with the progression of technology.
3 Ways to manage meeting rooms
Managed: an online request is submitted to an administrator (either client team or reception team) who deals with the booking and any additional needs accordingly. The administrator can move, confirm or cancel bookings. The user then automatically gets a notification email with the booking details. The client team can monitor the progress of each booking and its equipment and catering orders on a dedicated grid screen. The managed room booking process makes the best use of rooms and resources by keeping the client team in control of events.
Part Managed: the user requests a room by checking available rooms and time slots. They can hold a room 'on request' until the booking is confirmed by the booking administrator.
Self-managed: a self-managed system allows users to view available meeting rooms, book them, invite attendees, and organise materials and catering if needed. Access levels can be created, where the client team can retain minimal control, or the user can have complete control, allowing them to book, amend and cancel bookings. This minimises booking overheads and frees up resources at reception.
4 Get a demonstration
Companies have demonstration packages that can be used online in a conference call or brought to the client to be shown and explained face to face. You need to constantly liaise with the provider in order to get the system running exactly the way you want it and the support team needs to be easily contactable - at the end of a phone line or online - to fix any problems.
There are a number of different ways and processes to manage meeting rooms so you need to consider how you work at the moment and if this is likely to change. Next, you should ensure that the new system can handle the various different ways you may operate, not just in one location but across the whole organisation.
Expanding companies or those who experience complications and increasing overheads with manual processes of room booking are turning to web-based specialised solutions.
One central system streamlines administration and makes meeting room control very simple, as well as reducing overhead costs and giving maximum utilisation of meeting rooms. After finding a solution to suit your business, decide whether you want a managed, part-managed or self-managed system.
Paul Statham is a director at RNM Systems
The best meeting room systems have...
user-friendly interface with simple calendar systems
integration with diary system and visitor management
automatic email confirmation
active directory and LDAP allowing users to automatically gain access to the system without double entry
SAP and accounts software uploads to allow validation of cost codes
ability to book or request rooms directly from MS Outlook or similar application