The boot was on the other foot recently when a customer, a leading law firm, demonstrated our own software back to us. Well, to say it was a demo of our software was a bit misleading. The fact was that our customer had done some extensive tailoring of the Microsoft Exchange calendaring application, AgendaX.
AgendaX gives you a web-based, wall-planner-like view of Outlook calendar, making it easy to see the availability of key staff and resources at a glance. You simply choose the people or resources whose diaries you want to show, and everyone in the company can view those diaries in a variety of ways: Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly; etc. A key benefit of AgendaX is that it makes it easy to view the availability of staff alongside rooms and then make bookings, either in Outlook or AgendaX.
Customers often display meeting room availability using AgendaX, but one particular customer, a leading law firm, showed us how they have tailored AgendaX to go several steps further. When staff at the law firm find a room they want to book, the AgendaX booking screen has been tailored to include a number of additional fields, including the meeting organiser (bearing in mind that the person actually booking the meeting might be a PA), the meeting type (internal, client, training, etc), any catering requests (tea, coffee, lunches), seating layout requests (boardroom, theatre-style), whether a projector, laptops or conference ‘phone is required, and where the meeting is client-related, the ‘matter number’ to which costs are to be allocated, and any additional comments.
On confirming the meeting, AgendaX synchronises with Outlook calendar to send an .ICS email to the person requesting the meeting, along with all meeting related requests. To confirm the meeting in their calendar, the meeting requestor is instructed to double click on the .ICS attachment to add the appointment to their calendar.
The information captured by the tailored AgendaX form is also sent to the relevant staff in the organisation, including those responsible for organising catering, seating, equipment, and receiving visitors. An aggregated report is also sent each Friday for the following week, with any catering requests booked highlighted. Service providers also have a web link to run a daily report ad-hoc in case things have changed or been deleted.
In short, we were impressed, and our client has gone a long way towards streamlining what was previously a labour-intensive process.