Booking it up

FSI (FM Solutions) Limited has partnered with QED Advanced Systems, linking the resource booking technology and digital signage systems from QED with the fully web-based Concept Evolution Workplace Technology solutions from FSI.

Meeting scheduling is commonplace in the workplace, but for those who have to organise it, this can be a complicated and time-consuming process if you don't have an efficient booking system to use.

"It may seem a simple task to mobilise a group of colleagues in one place at one time, but there are so many factors to take into consideration: timescales, diary conflicts, room availability, equipment: the list is endless," says Sally Wotton, marketing manager at FSI. "And let's not even talk about those frustrating last-minute changes or cancellations, all the while making sure all relevant parties are kept fully informed of such alterations."

That's why a growing number of companies are turning to booking software to streamline this process, says Wotton. "Organisers can instantly search for rooms, equipment and resources. And if this is linked to the Workplace Technology solutions utilised by the facilities and maintenance management teams, it not only assists in the reduction of their administrative workload, but also ensures the correct services and equipment are in the right place at the right time, thereby providing a more efficient service to end-users."

Once a booking has been made, if your solution allows for the automation of business processes via email for example, you don't even have to worry about notifying all concerned parties and departments. 

"Now, how about we take this one step further, by taking a look at digital signage," says Wotton. "With digital signage, you can instantly identify meeting rooms, desks and workspaces, and booking information, in real-time.

"A room-screen system that gives you instant availability at a glance is so much better than grabbing a seemingly empty room, desk or workspace for an ad-hoc meeting, only to find out once you've started it's booked for someone else in a few minutes' time: now that is really annoying."

Digital Signage for bookings is a ‘nobrainer' for many reasons, says Wotton. "Aside from the metrics and usage
reporting benefits with improved room utilisation and the tracking of ‘no-show' meetings should you wish for bookers to incur financial penalties, let's not forget the basic's here: the ease of using a ‘walk-up' booking system, and quite simply, they really do look the part."

You can even, Wotton explains, validate pre-booked desk and room bookings, book a desk or room for a pre-defined period of time, extend a current booking, and perform manual or automatic check-outs, with all information automatically and instantly fed back into you FM software solution.

"If you're running late for a meeting and you haven't checked where you should be, with digital signage the information is clearly displayed outside a room or by a desk or workspace, so you know if you're in the right place. This eliminates booking confusion and awkward arguments outside: as entertaining as it may be to your colleagues, I'm not so sure an arm-wrestling contest or similar tactics should be employed to determine who has access to a room."

Digital signage systems can provide end of booking reminders to ensure meetings finish on time, says Wotton. "But meetings do sometimes run over, and how do you know if the room will be free beyond your allotted booked time? Subject to availability, you can instantly and easily extend a reservation. On the flip-side, if you finish a meeting early, you can release the room for a colleague in need of space."

To fulfil any efficiency criteria, aside from choosing a system which uses LED technology as a compelling ‘green' solution, some systems also include overnight scheduled power save modes, which not only reduce power consumption but also minimise running costs.

"And if you really want to blind them with science, just start talking about how a single low-power screen can replace alternative booking systems that require countless pieces of paper and many ‘person' hours to action the bookings."