Arrive® has installed numerous room scheduling and signage solutions for various clients, and has compiled customer feedback and answers to frequently asked questions. Here then is our checklist of things to consider when looking for a room scheduling and signage system. The checklist is a valuable resource to review before making a purchase in order to guarantee that the solution fits your company requirements.
- Would you like to schedule your meetings on a touch display or from a calendar app?
If you prefer to book or schedule your meetings on a display device placed outside your meeting room door, you will need to purchase an interactive touch screen embedded with room scheduling and signage software. These touch devices come in various screen sizes, and display room booking status and other information. You can quickly reserve and schedule meetings directly from the touch panel or from a calendar app that integrates with the display and accessible from a desktop, a web interface, or from a mobile device connected to the cloud.
If you opt for room scheduling software, you will be able to install these on a tablet or similar touch displays. There will be options to make these centrally managed (connect to a dedicated server) or as a standalone device. You should be able to book rooms and pull up the meeting schedule on your mobile, a tablet or PC using cloud-based apps; or schedule meetings directly on the tablet.
- What kind of interface are you looking for in a room reservation solution?
If your users are mostly in-office or if there is a dedicated staff who books meeting rooms (ex. Receptionists) with the option of checking room availability status and booking on the spot, then an integrated touchscreen display will be the best option. Interface for these touchscreens are often simple and intuitive, with all the important buttons and icons on the home screen. Central management is best for multiple rooms and comes with many other features that make it a worthwhile investment:
- A signage option to display other information such as emergency or warning notifications, promotions or advertising, line messages, etc.
- Branding option to display company logo for a customized touch
- Integrate with a kiosk application designed to show summary information on room schedules for a specific building
- Meeting room management system with advanced analytics that can report room usage or monitor devices
- Set up device operation within business hours to save energy
- Be made of energy efficient hardware features such as use of LED status lights, LCD screens, and Power-over-Ethernet
If users want a similar experience yet would opt to use an existing touch screen device, then they can buy and install a room scheduling software. This would be best for single rooms, and can provide basic, easy interface for room management.
- What calendar app does the room scheduling system support?
It is always a good thing to deploy solutions that can integrate with the technology you are already using, which saves a lot of your technical resource’ time. Look for compatibility with Microsoft Exchange, Office365, and Google Apps (Calendar) – all of which are popular calendaring solutions used by the majority of businesses today. This avoids having to learn a completely new scheduling system that can cost you time, resources, and money.
- Are there other types of content you want to display other than room booking status?
If you want your room scheduling and signage display images or short videos, an integrated, centrally managed device with LCD screens will be the best option. Bigger screens (ex. 10” screens) with robust hardware that supports full HD resolution and play longer videos would be a great option
Deployment and Maintenance
- How will the room scheduling system be hosted?
There are two types of hosting: centrally managed on-premise, and cloud-based.
Multiple rooms housed in large, enterprise buildings in different locations would require an on-premise type of hosting. For example, the IT admin manages the room schedule centrally and would allocate users, permissions, devices to numerous venues and keep everything in sync. Having an on-premise host is highly important for bigger companies or school campuses since data storage and secure management is required.
Room scheduling solutions work with calendar apps hosted in the cloud such as Google Calendar or Ofc365 running MS Outlook. Cloud hosting comes with provider subscriptions, with minimum need for technical IT resources. However, compared to those that are centrally managed, room scheduling hosted on the cloud may have limited features.
It is recommended to know your company requirements and capabilities when it comes to choosing between an on-premise or cloud based room scheduling system.
- Who will maintain and manage your room scheduling system?
It is recommended to identify in advance, who is going to maintain and manage the room scheduling system. Is this going to be the receptionist, a technical person from the IT department, someone from facility management, or an executive assistant? Is the room scheduling system easy to manage, or will it require complex security process?
An important support factor to consider is the one given by the solution provider. Does the system come with software support programs including updates and maintenance? Does the hardware come with warranty and easy replacement process?
- How will the room scheduling and signage be powered?
Power-over-ethernet (PoE) allows a single cable to provide both data connection and electric power to most room scheduling devices. The PoE connection eliminates the need for a nearby power outlet or additional power cables, although a backup power port is also designed within most systems. This provides flexibility in placing PoE-enabled equipment in the most optimal locations instead of choosing locations where power is available. Additionally, PoE can facilitate temporary deployments like mobile offices and meeting rooms, or mobile classrooms by eliminating the need for the installation of additional power to support devices.
- Does the room scheduling and signage system come with flexible, mounting options?
The room scheduling device should have options for mounting on a glass wall or solid surface. It should come with sturdy brackets that will support long-term use, yet can be easily installed with the most basic of tools. Another option is by using a high-strength, double-sided, resilient bonding sticker, which can be used to mount the devices on glass or other smooth surfaces such as formica, aluminum or tile.
- Does the room scheduling and signage system have other smart hardware design elements?
One important hardware design factor is visibility of room status even when viewed from a distance or from an angle. An energy efficient LED status bar that indicates whether a room is available or reserved would come in handy. One does not need to walk up to a device to check if the room is booked or not. LED is an energy efficient, low temperature light source and usually comes integrated with the device, thus there is no need for separate power supply consideration. In other cases, the user interface design will also have an equivalent status indicator on screen in case an LED bar is not available.
Finally, choose a room scheduling and signage system that can be integrated with future or existing room technology such as video collaboration, kiosk applications or control systems. A well-designed user interface paired with robust hardware and additional features other than scheduling, should be a good investment.//