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Scheduling meetings across timezones - how hard can it be?
Have I found a glaring hole in the market for calendar-type applications, or can someone fill it for me?
Within the enterprise, tools like Exchange handle the arrangement of meetingsreasonably well. But even there, it's a take it or leave it deal. The meeting organiser offersone timeonone date. Potential attendees reply yes or no. That's it.
Once you move outside the enterprise, it seems to get a whole lot harder, and I'm not sure I understand why, given that it's actually just a series of quite simple questions that need to be asked and answered.
The best tool I've found so far isMeetOMatic. This does some of what I want to do, as it allows me as meeting organiser to specifypossibledays for my meeting, and then poll recipients for their availability on those days. It's infinitely better than offering a single meeting time and date that they either take or leave.Butit is only as granular as 'morning' or 'afternoon', it doesn't allow them to rank their preferences in any way, and - very importantly, as I want to use this for teleconferences - it can't handle time zones.
There are some subscription-based commercial offerings, but they seem to have way too many odd features, and not enough emphasis on the simple job of finding a time that people want to meet.
So, here's what I want. And I'd probably pay to have it, because doing it the way I do just now sucks upwaytoo much of everyone's time.
As meeting organiser, I want to be able to visit a web page, and manage all of this there.
I want to be able to specify a number of possible dates (exactlyas MeetOMatic does).ButI want to be able to specifymytimezone, and chunk the day down into half hour units (not “Friday afternoon” as MeetOMatic would allow, but “Friday, between 12:00GMT and 15:00GMT, and between 17:30GMT and 21:00GMT).
I want to be able to specify the desired duration of the meeting.
I want to be able to specify the e-mail addresses of those whom I wish to invite, and have them automatically sent an e-mail, inviting them to the meeting.
I want each recipient to be asked - once - their timezone.
They should then be shown all the possible meeting times - translated to the time it would be for them, not the time it would be for me.
For each possible time, they should be able to say whether they are available or not.
For each time that a recipient has said they are available, they should (optionally) be able to flag them as something like 'preferred' or 'available if I really have to be (ienotpreferred)'.
The system should send me, as meeting organiser, an e-mail to let me know that someone has responded.
The system should offer a meeting management web page of some sort, allowing the meeting organiser to clearly see who has responded, and what their preferences are. It should be easily possible to view the responses from all recipients on a single screen, and to find the most popular times.
It should, ideally, be possible to easily refine the display, dropping times no one could manage, dropping times only one person could manage, only showing times everyone can manage, highlighting preferred times, etc.
So that's what I want. I don't really want any other whizzy bits. Just invite a load of people, and manage their responses.