A Web Based Meeting Scheduler Information Technology Essay

The web based meeting scheduler (WMS) is a user friendly tool developed to assists humans in office environments to schedule meetings efficiently. The algorithm used in the distributed meeting scheduler paves way for negotiation of various processes on behalf of their users and comes up with an agreement on a common meeting time that is acceptable to all the users and abides by all the

constraints set by the hosts and attendees. The motive of the algorithm is to obtain a solution based on the knowledge it acquires during the process. In summary the Web-based Meeting Scheduler follows a decision oriented methodology that depends on knowledge based approach. The purpose

of WMS is to support the organization of meetings and to determine for each meeting request, a meeting date and location so that most of the intended participants shall effectively participate.

The principal users of this system are the Meeting Initiator and Meeting Attendees/Participants. Each user is going to have their own login IDs and passwords. It is the responsibility of the meeting initiator to schedule the meeting based on the availability of the attendees along with the constraints expressed by the attendees/participants. The meeting scheduler system shall have the ability to handler several meeting requests in parallel and resolve

conflicts. The key functionalities of this system are: Schedule or plan meetings, re-planning of meetings to support changing user constraints, support conflict resolution, keep participants informed of the meeting schedules and any changes, and to cancel meetings.

Problem Context

Despite the advances in technology, scheduling a meeting is not as simple as it looks. There is a lot of judgment involved. Anytime you bring together a group of people, there are many factors to consider. You have to consider pecking order. Some members of the group are more important, so others must change their schedules to accommodate. But with the right system, meeting scheduling can be quick, easy and super efficient. Therefore, a web-based system meeting scheduler system will be developed to allow individuals or organizations to easily, efficiently, and precisely schedule meetings in accordance with practical limitations of virtual and real-world meetings. This project does on how the software system will try to achieve what it is intended to do, by describing requirements such as security, reliability, maintainability, usability and performance.

Rationale

Now that the problem has been identified, once implemented, the system could bring about significant tangible and intangible benefits. It is anticipated that the system could be the best solution to the existing problems that meeting planners or organizers encounter when running meetings. The following are the tangible and intangible benefits of the system:

Meetings are vital for communication and management. Properly run meetings save time, increase motivation, productivity, and solve problems. Plan, run and follow up meetings properly, and they will repay the cost many times over because there is still no substitute for physical face-to-face meetings

Description of Problem Area

Holding meetings is an increasingly expensive activity, hence the need to run meetings well. Badly run meetings waste time, money, resources and are worse than having no meetings at all.

The following are common problems that occur when scheduling a meeting:

The meeting is scheduled and after everyone had been invited you discover that some important participants can’t attend.

Another date has to be found. This can lead to a cycle of invitations and revisions.

A meeting is confirmed but then needs to be changed.

A meeting location is specified and then later changed in a subsequent meeting notice. Some of the attendees follow the original meeting notice and end up in a wring room.

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Repeated meeting notices and revisions are sent out, so everyone is confused about the meeting.

You use an internet based meeting scheduling system, but outside participants don’t have the same software.

A meeting is scheduled and confirmed, but the location is already booked.

No one sends a meeting reminder, and several attendees forget about the meeting.

People are invited to a meeting but the meeting organizer did not say what it is about, so they show up unprepared

Nature of Challenge

“The hardest single part of building a software system is deciding precisely what to build. No other part of the conceptual work is as difficult as establishing the detail technical requirements, including the entire interface to people, to machines, and to other software systems. No part of the work so cripples the resulting system if done wrong. No other part is more difficult to rectify later.”[Brooks, 1987]

We consider the problem of determining suitable meeting times and locations for a group of participants wishing to schedule a meeting subject to already scheduled meetings possibly held at a number of different locations. Each participant must be able to reach the new meeting location, attend for the entire duration, and reach the next meeting on time. Major problem will be in deriving efficient algorithms for solving general meeting scheduling problems, to find approximate solutions, where appropriate implement the solutions and to integrate them into applications that allow users who are connected over a network to schedule meetings. Currently meeting scheduling systems take into consideration only time and not location or geometry.

 

 

C.

Brief description of project objectives.

(i.e. scope of proposal and deliverables)

 

Scope

The scope of the project shall include scheduling meetings in an efficient way, gathering the feedback from attendees, cancelling the meeting, changing the schedule and/or location, scheduling concurrent meetings in timely manner, conducting virtual meeting, confirming the location and time of the meeting and last but not the least minimize users effort in coordinating and scheduling meetings.

Core Modules

This is the main functionality of my project. It has to do the following:

Automate the meeting schedule process to enable efficient use of the time and efforts of meeting organizer.

Select a date and time according to the availability of the participants.

Allocate the location that is convenient to all the participants.

Send reminders to the participants about the meeting and any schedule changes.

Re-organize and modify the meeting schedule if required.

Enhanced Features

This are the additional features I plan to include in my project:

Adding members of the meeting

Administrator has privilege to edit user’s profile.

Search for members of the meeting and see who is free and who is not, and who is coming for the meeting

Generation of appropriate reports to show meeting attendees and the meeting agendas

Attendees’ photos for verification incase of same information.

Participants’ option for denying the invitation.

User need to register.

Special Features

Based on my research and if I have the time and ability, these are the features I am going to attempt to implement:

Make the system work on diverse platforms (Windows, Blackberry, iPhone and other Smartphone compatibility).

Participants’ choice of getting reminder in pop-up window or mail.

Facility to book conference bridge (conference bridge is a phone) and editing reserved bridge.

Assumptions and Dependencies

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The following will be major assumptions of this project:

Will ensure that I am available as needed to complete project tasks and objectives.

Will abide by the guidelines identified within this plan.

Project plan might change on new information revealed or issues encountered.

Availability of participants for meetings and training.

Constraints

The project has the below three constraints:

Time: time frame within which the project should be completed.

Cost: cost of developing the system within the estimated budget.

Quality: level of quality to be met as per the requirements of the users.

 

 

D.

Brief description of the resources needed by the proposal.

(i.e. hardware, software, access to information / expertise, user involvement etc.)

 

Hardware requirements

A standard PC with minimum 40gig hard disk and 256MB RAM. A Smartphone.

Software requirements

The system shall be developed using n-tier architecture consisting of the presentation (web layer), business layer and Data Access layer.

Integrated Development Environment : Netbeans IDE

Development using Java 1.6, J2ee, Ajax, JavaScript

Database Management : SQL server 2005

The web-based interface for the WMS shall run in the below internet browsers

Internet Explorer 64.x and above

Firefox

Access to information or Expertise

Mostly books are used as a source of information for this project. However websites and research paper also play a major role as a source of reference.

User Involvement

Knowledge and experience of people who have used the existing Web-based Meeting Schedulers is respected, valued and drawn upon to influence and shape the work of the proposed system. They would help to understand the requirements hence building a better system. These information can be gathered by using some research methods such as interviews, questionnaires or even case studies.

 

 

E.

Academic research being carried out and other information, techniques being learnt.

(i.e. what are the names of books you are going to read / data sets you are going to use)

 

The following are some of the books I am going to read in conjuction with the information gathered online as I will be doing this project:

Dawson, C.W. (2009) Projects in Computing and Information Systems : A Student Guide

Tudor, D.J. and Tudor I.J. (1999) System Analysis and Design: A Comparison of Structured Methods, New Edition. Palgrave Macmillan Software

Hughes, B. & Cotterell, M. (3rd Ed)(2009) Software Project Management

Sommerville, I. (6th Ed) (2000) Software Engineering by Ian Sommerville

Philips, J. Project (3rd Ed) Management Professional Study Guide

Hall, E. & Johnson, J. (2002)Integrated Project Management Prentice Hall

 

 

F.

Brief description of the development plan for the proposed project.

(i.e. which software methodology and why, the major areas of functions to be developed and the order in which developed)

 

After reading and making researches, I strong-willed to do this project using Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC). It is a conceptual model used in project management that unlike other methodologies describes the stages involved in an information system development project, from an initial feasibility study through maintenance of the completed application. Although SDLC has different forms and models, it follows certain steps. These steps could have the same meaning in one methodology but they are treated in a different manner or could lead to something different. It is chosen because of its ability to cater for the project as a whole and part of it that involves an application that is going to be developed on the web. These following steps are for the project:

Planning- Everything starts with a concept or with a question such as “what do you want?” being asked to certain people so as to know what they want and decide to create an answer.

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Design- Once planning is done; one can now design or create a rough plan regarding the software. Will decide on the initial specifics of the software to be created, decide what platform or programming language to use.

Implementation- When the design and all the things that I need have been laid out, it is time to work on the plan and present it for approval.

Testing- Two types of testing are going to be performed, one which will be the actual testing by users. Once the stage is completed the WMS will be tested by professionals in the field.

Acceptance- When the software is released to be used by a certain company, acceptance means the software is implemented.

Maintenance- When the software is implemented, it does not mean that the software is good as it is. Maintenance is included since there is absolutely no way that the software will be working perfectly.

Disposal- When a software is outmoded, it is not just all deletion of files, affected files should be looked at and determine which file to protect and dispose.

And the following are web development stages: Analysis, Initial design, Design approval, Web development, Prototype, Launching, and Maintenance.

 

 

G.

Brief description of the evaluation and test plan for the proposed project.

(i.e. what is the success criteria and how will be evaluated & implementation will be tested, indicate the estimated size of the demonstration/test database)

 

Testing

Testing refers to the process of exercising a product to identify differences between expected and actual behavior. It is the means by which the presence, quality or genuineness of anything is determined; a means of trial.

The project will be successful it if manages to perform all the key functionalities. It will be tested by me and as I will be developing the system with both black-box and white-box testing methodologies while my supervisor will use White-box testing which provides a degree of sophistication that is not available with black-box testing as the tester is able to refer to and interact with the objects that comprise an application rather than only having access to the user interface to check if all the functionalities, deliverables and objectives are met.

Evaluation

Evaluation is a systematic determination of merit, worth and significance of something or someone using criteria against a set of standards. Without an evaluation process a product reaching consumers would be untried. It would reflect the intentions of its designer but there would be no study of the relationship between design and use. The two main types of evaluation, Formative and Summative evaluation are going to be used to evaluate Web based meeting scheduler that is going to be developed in this project.

The Web-based Meeting Scheduler will have approximately 20 people in its database. They will be used for testing some of the functionalities of the system. For example if one person is invited to a meeting that clashes with another meeting that he or she has already been invited to, and the person showed that they will be attending it, an error message should be displayed to show that the person will not manage to attend that one. Or if meetings that should have the same attendees clash, an error message should be displayed also.

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