The Epic of Meeting Software

on 05 March 2008

Let's say, hypothetically, that you worked in an academic environment. And let's say, hypothetically, that in that academic setting there were professional researchers, writers and instructors on the arts and sciences of management and resource utilization. This bit is important so don't skim.

And let's say, just for fun, that you are a hypothetical administrative assistant in this hypothetically academic environment. Part of your job is to answer the phones, make copies, scan documents, build tables of data for papers, and occasionally assist in setting up meetings.

Since this is all purely hypothetical I can assure you that in this situation the WORST thing in the world is the setting up meetings part. Imagine one of the professional persons schedules. Chock full of committee meetings, faculty meetings, classes, office hours, graduate student mentors and their own research time. There are occasional hours of empty time here and there are various and sundry points of the day. Then multiply that by 6. With various professional interests and backgrounds, differing committees, classes and office hours. To say nothing of priorities. Some have kids, some don't...the ones with kids MUST leave at certain times of day and others can and will come in on weekends or stay late but DO NOT ask them to be here before 10am and 3 cups of coffee.

Now. Do you have a mental image? Now imagine that for hypothetic's sake you have 2 assistants to support 30+ of these professional persons. While you're at it, imagine how much TIME those two assistants spend attempting to arrange these hypothetical meetings.

Now that your head hurts real bad, just know that there's HELP! In the form of a software program designed to assist professional persons in arranging their OWN meetings. It only takes a couple of minutes and who, WHO knows their schedule better than the professional person themselves? The use of this software may have been suggested by a ranking professional person.

Now imagine that as word circulates via the two lowly assistants that the professional persons would be responsible for arranging their own meetings via this simple and easy to use software, how the CRAP hits the fan. Imagine intelligent, well-educated and MATURE adults, hypothetically stomping their feet in resistance to this development. Imagine the emails that circulate the office DEMANDING to know why such a step has been implemented.

Now, imagine that other professional persons join the fray. One of them TEACHES management and suggests that the SOLUTION is to have the lowly assistants continue to arrange the meetings on one piece of software while the professional persons use the other software.

Now, realizing that all of this is purely hypothetical, doesn't it still sound like a lot of DOUBLE work? Setting up the same meeting twice, maintaining two calenders instead of just one and initially, the whole imbroglio was set about to stop the assistants from this mind-boggling task of arranging meetings so that they would be free to devote their limited time to other tasks. Tasks still given to them by the professional persons.

And while we're speaking hypothetically, doesn't it seem like a more efficient use of resources to have the professional persons maintain their own calenders so that the remaining time can be reallocated for the use of those same professional persons for different tasks?

But what do I know? I'm just a secretary.


~SH~ said...

Oh, too funny! Tomorrow you must divulge me further. I demand to know more or I'm taking it to the authorities! Kidding, of course. :) But I would love to know what type of children we work with, is all I'm sayin'.

And p.s. nothing was given away so you are safe there. (Hence the need for my demands!)

See ya in the a.m.!! :)

Jeff said...

Oh, that is just ironic, and sad... so very sad... :(