The Comprehensive Guide to Scheduling Technology Platforms
Scheduling Solves Critical Business Problems
How are meetings handled in your organization? Does everyone handle their own? Or is scheduling handled by teams whose sole responsibility is to oversee meeting management for executives or select groups? If scheduling isn’t handled by administrative staff, then each employee might be expected to manage his or her own calendar. Whoever manages meeting scheduling most likely relies on digital tools to get the job done. And if you’re relying on basic digital tools, like calendar and email, you’re undoubtedly spending an inordinate amount of time trying to schedule these meetings.
Finding a time to meet for any size group is a challenge. Scheduling meetings across an organization with tools ill-suited for the job is not just a time-suck; it can also result in lower productivity and decreased employee morale. According to our 2019 State of Meetings Report, emailing back and forth to find a time to schedule one meeting can take up to 30 minutes. Complex meetings with attendees from several different organizations pose an even greater challenge. When inefficiencies in meeting scheduling are multiplied by the number of employees working in the company, the drain on company resources can be overwhelming.
Calendar and email tools are simply not suited to handle the scheduling needs of the complex modern enterprise. This has driven an increase in the demand for more sophisticated scheduling technology platforms to empower businesses - and their employees - to be more productive, collaborative and efficient with their meetings. The end result will be sustainable innovation and business growth.
What Is a Scheduling Technology Platform?
A scheduling technology platform, or STP, is a packaged software platform that enables businesses to schedule meetings efficiently and effectively across their organizations. An STP adapts to your organization’s unique meeting inputs. This can include the participants required for the meeting (whether or not you have access to the calendars of the participants), the type of meeting and potential days and times for the meeting. Essentially, your meeting inputs are the who, what, when and where of your scheduled meeting.
An STP should also work across a variety of touchpoints where individuals can access and interact with the STP. They can be native apps (iOS, Android), desktop apps, web browsers, browser extensions, etc. Furthermore, these STPs may have the ability to host external applications or products which enable different use cases using or built with the same technological framework. STPs can be divided into three categories based on their features, complexity and ability to handle varying use cases.
Three Levels of Scheduling Technology Platforms
Level 1: Single Meeting Types Level 1 STPs are limited in functionality and their ability to integrate with other tools. Functionally, they typically only schedule one kind of meeting: one-to-one meetings, group meetings (for more than two people) or appointments (passive meeting scheduling). Level 1 STPs integrate with your calendar on two separate fronts. They allow for viewing of appointments while scheduling upcoming meetings. They also allow for completed meetings to be synced to the connected calendar. Often these integrations are established directly with Microsoft or Google services. They can also be handled indirectly through an online calendar’s base export function - the ICS feed.
Level 2: Multiple Meeting Types + Integrations When an STP can help an organization schedule more than one meeting type - or can integrate with tools beyond a calendar - it is considered a level 2 STP. Level 2 STPs can connect to employee calendars at an organization-wide level. They can efficiently organize large group meetings (like board or team meetings), as well as schedule separate one-to one meetings between team members. Group meetings and one-to-one meetings scheduled with a level 2 STP will automatically sync to the connected calendars of the participating members.
Level 2 STPs can integrate natively with other software, to a CRM (such as Salesforce) for example, or can integrate with other business software through a third party tool such as Zapier. The majority of STPs currently on the market are level 2 STPs.
Level 3: Integrated, Flexible & Secure Scheduling for the Modern Enterprise What sets level 3 STPs apart from level 2 STPs? Resources, investment and security features that add even more organizational value.
Level 3 STPs can schedule multiple meeting types, integrate with other business tools, allow applications to be built within their scheduling technology framework and offer scheduling support through an application program interface (API). STPs in this category are also compatible with large companies’ security, privacy and scalability needs.
Meetings are efficiently created with the STP’s underlying scheduling framework. Inputs are assigned, possible day/time options are chosen (or automatically identified in more advanced STPs) and the final event is then added to the participants’ calendars. Level 3 STPs can use this framework, or offer it to others, to build products that satisfy more use cases or solve scheduling problems unique to individual businesses. They can also allow businesses to access certain features and data, or schedule meetings programmatically through an API.
Modern enterprises with thousands of employees have complex needs, not simply in terms of organizational efficiency (i.e. planning meetings between thousands of employees), but also in terms of security, as it’s vital to ensure that each of the applications used by those thousands of employees is secure. STPs at this level support single sign-on (SSO), a secure, web-based, authentication mechanism that minimizes outside threats to an organization’s IT infrastructure. STPs at this level are also flexible enough to scale with your company as you grow to support the daily scheduling needs of tens of thousands of employees, who are now working remotely.
Why your business needs scheduling
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, scheduling technology could be right for your company. Please contact us for more.