Automated Scheduling for Meetings: A Real-World ERM Use Case

Imagine you need to arrange a meeting involving a few co-workers from your office as well as a couple who will be joining remotely. You’ll need a conference room that can accommodate half-a-dozen people, with a large LCD monitor for screen sharing. And of course you’ll need to coordinate schedules to get everyone together at the soonest feasible date and time.

Using ERM to arrange business meetingsHow do you do it today? In many organizations, this still requires emails and phone calls to check schedules (at least to verify that online schedules are up to date); asking the receptionist or office manager to schedule a room (or perhaps use a simple task-specific online room scheduling tool); and manually setting up a session on the organization’s web conference service (WebEx, GoToMeeting, JoinMe, etc.).

It may not seem terribly inefficient from the standpoint of each employee–particularly those who don’t have to schedule meetings often. But multiply this process across all the daily meetings that occur in the typical large organization, and the cost of these manual processes in terms of lost productivity is enormous.

Enterprise request management (ERM) can be used to automate this process through a single web-based request portal.

1) First, the underlying workflow automation engine would be used to integrate the individual calendar software with the request portal. The meeting organizer could then simply enter the names of the attendees and let the software cross-check those calendars and display the next n time/day combinations during which all attendees are available.

2) The automation engine could also integrate the room scheduling tool or facilities software with the request portal. The meeting organizer would need only to confirm the office location in which to schedule the meeting and check-off any specific equipment required; the system would automatically match room capacities to the size of the attendee list, then display all options for suitable meeting rooms available at the meeting time/date.

3) Finally, the portal could be connected to the web conferencing tool (with single sign-on enabled). The meeting organizer can identify each attendee as “local” or “remote,” and the system takes over from there to schedule both the room and web conferencing tool, send out the appropriate invitation types to each attendee, and track confirmations.

The human time required to setup the meeting is reduced to minutes. Pre-meeting emails and phone calls to coordinate schedules are eliminated. There is no manual effort for anyone other than the meeting organizer, and that effort is limited to typing or pasting in a list of attendees and selecting a few options.

The origins of ERM were in IT service catalogs that enabled users to report issues and submit equipment and service requests. But as the ERM approach is extended across the organization, all manner of tasks can be simplified, accelerated, and automated—reducing costs and giving employees more time to focus on their real work.


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