Does scheduling meetings feel like herding cats?

Written by Vince Thompson, Contributing Editor

Paul Goldenberg is the co-founder of Red Wolf Online, a Software company in Toronto Canada that is the parent company and creator of Meeting Made. As a serial entrepreneur with deep experience in developing and deploying software to solve business problems, we wanted to get Paul’s take on the issues related to meeting scheduling and learn more about MeetingMade.com.

What is MeetingMade?

MeetingMade is a web-based software application that brokers or negotiates the optimal meeting time for meetings with as many as 50 participants. It is an easy to use program that takes an often complex problem and reduces it down to a very simple, easy to manage process. The impetus behind MeetingMade was building a productivity tool that would enable a person and their meeting participants to share availability without disclosing or compromising personal schedules in an easy-to-use, web-based interface. MeetingMade employs an advanced algorithm that calculates the best meeting time for everyone while taking both precedence and partial availability into account. MeetingMade is a safe, reliable and private service that doesn’t ever require any downloading of software or widgets whatsoever.
What’s the problem you are solving?

Primarily, MeetingMade reduces the amount of time and frustration associated with scheduling meetings.
All other solutions in the market use a calendar mash up or restrict input as the means to assist people in booking a meeting. MeetingMade takes into account a person’s precedence and available times, and produces a ranked list of solutions that even include partial availability. MeetingMade is also the only solution that can integrate with external calendars with no software installation required (ever). MeetingMade automatically detects and incorporates each user’s time zone. Meetings created with MeetingMade are both 100% compliant with iCalendar and Email RFC’s, and are also compatible with all known email programs, online services and internet-enabled devices.

MeetingMade also closes the communications loop, allowing the Organizer to see the real-time status of all invited participates in their own calendar meeting entry. The same mechanism allows the Organizer to automatically update the Location and Description fields in all accepted participants calendars.

How much time can MeetingMade save?

Meeting Made personally saves me between two and three hours a month. I have heard claims [from our competition] of ‘hundreds of hours saved a year’ which is very hard to believe. I actually tracked the time I spent scheduling meetings from January 1, 2007 through to December 31, 2007 and spent a total of 32.25 hours scheduling meetings the traditional way. In 2008, I used MeetingMade, and saw that number get reduced down to about eight. Since my time is worth considerable more per hour than what we charge for this application, we feel that the value proposition is pretty strong.

How are meetings changing in general?

Meetings are changing in a number of different ways and in a way; they’re not really changing at all. The biggest change is how the Internet is changing the ways meetings are conducted. The advent of web conferences is reducing the amount of time and effort required to actually meet. More business can get completed in less time and at a significant cost savings than ever before.

A lot of professionals are claiming that more meetings are being conducted in less time and more getting accomplished. I don’t see this as necessarily true. I still see a lot of time being wasted in unnecessary meetings – usually related to a working environment that doesn’t empower their staff and management to actually make decisions – but only to make recommendations that require significant deliberation before anything – if ever – is done.

What’s your smartest business move this year?

The smartest decision that we have made this year was to decline taking on a new, major account that at the end of the day, would have likely been more effort than they were worth. We expect all of our clients to be demanding. However, we don’t expect them to be difficult and when you combine the two; you most often put yourself in a position where you just can’t win. Last year, we cut out 80% of our clients who represented the same – 80% of our focus and effort but only yielded about 20% of our income. Decisions like that are the toughest as there are oftentimes significant dollars attached to the choices you make. However, an entrepreneur must put the needs of their company first – always; and these decisions have been the best thing for our business.

What’s your worst?

Picking just one and calling it my worst is very tough. We haven’t made any major blunders this year but there have been plenty of small, annoying things that we have done that I wish we hadn’t. I think that the mistakes that bother me the most are related to communication breakdowns that lead to misunderstandings that required effort to remedy when there was really nothing wrong in the first place. Time wasters.

What’s the smartest thing you’ve done to understand your users?

We make it a practice to spend a significant amount of time with the people who actually use our software. We take the time to understand them, their technical acumen and comfort with computers, as well as understand their daily business activities. Watching them use our software through the course of their normal activities and listening to their feedback of how they use it has been an invaluable use of our time.

Do you have advice for other entrepreneurs?

Perseverance. There is something that I call the entrepreneur litmus test and unless you have put a payroll onto a personal credit card, you haven’t passed it.

To learn more about Meeting Made Click Here:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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