When Do You Need A Room Booking System

As we walk into the sprawling office of a large hedge fund company, the receptionist, impeccably dressed in a white top and black skirt with a pearl necklace dangling around her neck, receives me and walks me toward my meeting room.As we walk, she briefly talks about her company. I detect a deep sense of pride and superiority as she explains how their organization manages millions of dollars of assets under management.I was thinking the company would have have a room booking system.

As we approach my meeting room she notices the lights are on and some laughter coming out of the room. A peek inside the room and sigh as she tells me in a whisper that senior partners have occupied it and we will have to wait.

She starts frantically scouring the floor as if she had lost her precious necklace. As I stood there, I couldn’t help myself but ask what she was looking for. She was visibly embarrassed. She said that she had stuck a sticky note outside the room to indicate that it was reserved for our meeting. But it had flown away.  I thought to myself, “This organization needed a room booking system.”

Many organizations big and small face similar problems one way or another, which is when they start looking for a system that can help them manage their rooms and resources.

In our 10 years of operations, we have asked several of our customers and non-customers when was it that they decided to look for a room booking system. Below are some scenarios when a room/desk booking system becomes a valuable tool in your IT system arsenal.

Traditional Calendars Are Not Effective

Traditional calendars such as Google, Yahoo, or Outlook are very effective when it comes to scheduling appointments. However, when it comes to the reservation of rooms, they fall far short because of their inherent flexibility and lack of control. These tools are highly effective for a small number of rooms and a small team or when a receptionist or secretary coordinates the scheduling of these rooms. However, it can become a nightmare when it comes to managing schedules as the company grows.

Software systems such as Microsoft Exchange or similar tools provide controls on setting room usage policies. However, it is difficult for the regular staff to configure them. It requires the involvement of the IT team to configure and support the room.

Secretary Becomes The Bottleneck

In most small and medium-sized businesses, the secretary or the personal assistant is in charge of scheduling the room. Anyone who needs a room must email, call or approach the front desk to make a reservation. The secretary manages a single coordinated calendar and prints out the day’s schedule and places it outside the room in a slot. Now the secretary can manage many things. But this one thing can cause a lot of headaches. Employees can accuse her of preferential treatment. It becomes even worse when the secretary is on leave and someone else has to fill in for her.

Lack of Consistent Policy

It can be very frustrating without well-defined policies. A lot of favouritism and politics can creep in while allotting rooms. Clear visibility is not available for the staff who require a room. Abuse and misuse of facilities become rampant problems. Occupying a 40 pax board room for a 2-person meeting is both wasteful and disruptive. Room hogging, advanced booking for meetings that are eventually canceled, and blocking multiple rooms for tentative meetings all cause poor utilization of the facilities.

Growing Organisation

As organizations grow, they move to larger offices. There are more meetings. But there is no system to cater to the demands of the staff.  In today’s world, collaboration, partnerships, brainstorming sessions, and stand up meetings all demand dedicated spaces. Proper scheduling of these places can only be done using a room booking system.

Dynamic Workforce

Today’s workforce is dynamic. With constant interaction with colleagues, partners, customers, and associates, the scheduling of rooms needs to be done from anywhere. Firing up your computer to look for a schedule is no longer the preferred way of reserving rooms. Your staff needs on-the-go tools that help them to self-serve and schedule meetings. Devices such as mobile phones, room display panels, and digital signage provide multiple entry points into the system to help staff make reservations.

Renovating With New Technologies

For some organizations, office renovation exercises provide a good avenue where they can build smart office technologies into their architecture. Technologies such as Digital Signage, Way-Finders, and Room Display Panels bring a sense of pride and technological advancement that the office looks forward to. In these cases, the emphasis is more on the branding, look and feel and a sense of pride in their office.

Legacy Systems

Most large companies still use legacy systems that are more than 10 years old. Their user interface is clumsy and the system suddenly breaks for no apparent reason. In some cases, the vendor who supplied the system is no longer in business. So, requests for changes or bug fixes go unheeded. In these cases, the IT team simply runs the system on a server with a “DO NOT SHUTDOWN” notice stuck to it. If it were possible, we suspect that these companies would still use those systems if not for the end-of-life cycle for the supporting servers, software, and infrastructure.

Wrapping It Up

Organizations struggle with managing rooms and resources when they do not have a proper system in place. Issues like lack of policies, lax rules and heavy dependence on a particular person to manage the rooms can cause tremendous loss of productivity. With a proper room and resource booking system in place, staff can increase their productivity, thereby increasing their morale and reducing friction.

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