Life in testing: more about meetings

    Last week I mentioned that about 40% of my time was taken by meetings. That’s probably normal for a manager here at Microsoft and I don’t see anything unusual about that number. But for a meeting to occur, at least two other items need to be present: other attendees, and a meeting room. Since most other people have plenty of meetings themselves, attendees are usually able to be supplied. Rooms, on the other hand, need a bit more planning.

    Meeting rooms at Microsoft are not particularly rare, but they are hard to schedule. About once every 2 months, I’ll be at a meeting and right at the start, a second group of people will arrive and think they have the room booked. Our automated reservation system won’t let meeting conflicts like that occur, so the confusion usually results from someone not even attempting to update the location of the meeting. Still, the two groups of people inevitably lose a few (5 minutes, to maybe 10) trying to look at the calendar, checking with the building receptionist, verifying information in Outlook, and for the team who does NOT get the room, trying to find a last minute empty meeting room.

    This is not an exceptionally large problem, just troublesome. Some enterprising people around here even created a web page which looks at the Exchange servers to show when each room is free or booked, but word about that service has been slow to propagate. A new item showed up a few weeks ago that now should help. Outside of each room is a small screen which shows the room’s agenda for the day:


    Now I can quickly look at the little screen to see if the meeting I think I am attending is still in this room. And others can easily see from outside the room if the room is theirs – no more meeting interruptions if not. The screens are touch sensitive, too, so you can scroll around to see who has the room when. If the room is not yours, you no longer interrupt the meeting which has already started.  I also like the red "In A Meeting" button – it’s like the "On The Air" lights broadcast studios have.

    Not much to test with this device.  It is pretty stable, and the underlying software works well.  It’s simply nice to have this extra help with planning and holding meetings around Microsoft.

    Questions, comments, concerns and criticisms always welcome,

Comments (3)

  1. Kevin Spear says:

    Nice "touch" to a meeting room calendar.  Is that a future "resource" version of outlook? Or is it some in-house custom program?

  2. JohnGuin says:

    This is built on top of the Exchange Web Service and just shares the Outlook UI.  Oh, and one of the testers on the team tried to use OneNote to extract the text from the photo, but it is far too blurry.  Heh – I had tried that myself.  Tester mentality, I suppose.


  3. Satisfy Me says:

    You can always tell when it’s been a particularly busy week at home and at work… the reading list looks