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Mechanism to improve the scheduling of meetings

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000028218D
Original Publication Date: 2004-May-04
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-May-04
Document File: 2 page(s) / 60K

Publishing Venue



Disclosed is a method for improving the scheduling of meetings among people with busy calendars. In the likely event that a time is not available where all the invitees are free to attend a new meeting, the proposed system takes into account the importance of existing bookings in each invitee's calendar so that a meeting time can be proposed that only conflicts with invitees' least-important existing meetings. The importance of meetings are measured on an arbitrary but common scale (0 to 100 for instance), and determined by a combination of factors, which can include whether the invitee is a required or optional attendee, and their relative position in an organisation compared to either the person scheduling the meeting, or other invitees. Each invitee may also choose to adjust the importance of an existing booking within certain bounds.

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Mechanism to improve the scheduling of meetings

Disclosed is a software method for scheduling meetings that reduces disruption to invitees with busy calendars, and eases the role of the scheduler of such meetings. An importance value is associated with each booking in a person's calendar, and when simultaneously free time slots are unavailable to schedule a new meeting, this importance value is used by calendar scheduling components to find a time that conflicts only with the invitees' least-important meetings. The importance value of a meeting is determined individually for each participant in a meeting by using a combination of factors.

    If someone is trying to book a meeting with several other people, each with busy calendars, it can be almost impossible to find a free time slot for the new meeting. Many existing scheduling systems simply indicate a time slot in an invitee's calendar as being either free or busy, and security issues often prevent a scheduler from seeing any details of invitees' existing bookings. Therefore if the invitees have no simultaneously free time slots, the person scheduling the meeting has to make an arbitrary decision about when to hold the meeting. This can cause conflicts for one or more of the invitees, with bookings in their calendar that they may consider to be more important than the new invitation. Frequently this results in one or more rounds of negotiation between the meeting scheduler and the invitees before agreement is reached over the least disruptive time to hold the meeting. The larger the group of invitees, the worse the problem becomes. This invention is a mechanism to allow the scheduler component of a calendaring system to assess the relative importance of bookings in calendars. When the scheduler component is unable to find a simultaneously free time period to schedule the meeting, it will examine bookings in the participants' calendars, and offer periods of time containing clashes with meetings that the participants are likely to consider to be of lower importance. This will allow the person scheduling the meeting to select a time that is more likely to be acceptable to the invitees, without having to examine and/or guess the importance of the individual calendar entries of all the participants. This should result in reduced re-negotiation of meeting times, and hence disruption to the participants and the scheduler of the meeting.

    This system depends upon an 'importance value' being assigned to each booking in a person's calendar, on some arbitrary but granular scale, representing the importance of this meeting to that attendee. This attribute could be set to a specific value by the attendee as they feel appropriate, but for the system to operate effectively, and to maintain equity in the scheduling of (possibly large) groups of people, a degree of standardisation in the values used is necessary to minimise the opportunity for abuse.

    Consequently, the system calculates and suggests...