The 6 principles of building a great meeting scheduler

This post from Marc highlights some of the thinking behind how MeetOMatic was built:

If you’ve spent time arranging meetings, you will know that the task typically involves some tricky moments trying to satisfy everyone’s constraints and to converge on a schedule that works. Often you end up playing ‘telephone tag’ or ’email tag’ trying to chase individuals. Even if you use modern diary/meeting management workgroup or scheduling tools, things can still become unstuck if one or two individuals don’t use these meeting management tools properly (or don’t use them at all).

Our research into human computer interaction, psychology and intelligent agents has suggested six fundamental principles underlying the creation of good diary/meeting management software, and these are the same principles that we at MeetOMatic have stuck to consistently as the longest-running player in the business (17 years):

  1. Autonomy: People often prefer to ‘do their own thing’ (e.g. arrange circumstances to attend or avoid a specific meeting), rather than delegating responsibility to another person or a software tool.
  2. Different tools: You cannot count on everyone you intend to invite to a meeting to use the same single diary/meeting software, or even software that ‘interoperates’ (communicates seamlessly) with your own.
  3. Least common denominator: You can, however, safely assume that the people you want to invite have email and a web browser.
  4. Familiarity: People like to work with software tools they already know.
  5. Speed: People will often pick up the phone or send a conventional email rather than wait for a new software tool to help them, even if that tool looks innovative and promising. Reason? The old tried-and-tested methods feel faster!
  6. Granularity: For meetings that involve many possible dates or many people, the real problem is homing in on dates or AM/PM slots at a coarse-grained level in order to obtain a first-pass solution, rather than fussing about the precise time. In fact, a first-pass solution to a very complex scheduling problem provides such a large immediate payoff that it guarantees reuse of meeting scheduler software, even if only a few times per year. It also encourages a simple and speedy user interaction.

With these principles in mind, we designed MeetOMatic so that you can deal with the ‘big picture’ focus of arranging meetings, especially large meetings, with least amount of ‘cognitive overload’ (i.e. the least hassle!).

Do you agree with these principles? Let us know in the comments, or tweet us @meetomatic!


2 thoughts on “The 6 principles of building a great meeting scheduler

  1. I need to allow invitees to give me several options for times and dates for our meeting, but when I add “unlimited,” the meetomatic page still says “just pick one option.” What do I need to do to change that?

    1. Hi Betty,

      It sounds like you might be using MeetOMatic in appointment mode, rather than in the traditional scheduling mode.

      When scheduling your meeting, make sure “appointment mode” is unticked before you click “Go!”.



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