Help me help them.
December 10, 2008 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I need help implementing a fair scheduling system for a time-limited resource.

My workplace shares time on an fMRI machine for research between a large number of people. My lab has recently grabbed a consistent block of time (6 hour blocks x 3 days a week x 6 months) and is wondering about the best way to split it up between people. We will end up using more time than this and going outside the reserved blocks, but we also want to make sure that the (6) different groups within our lab (~35 people) get access to time within the block in equal measure. Scheduling and requirements change, so it needs to be flexible. We cannot simply assign equal portions of the blocks to each team, as they all have different needs that change from week to week.

A google calendar has been proposed for keeping track of scheduling, as coding something from scratch will take too much time and many of us already use or sync to google calendar anyway. I'm looking for a way to limit people's ability to grab all of the time right away. Perhaps a lottery or a rotation or opening more of the time as it gets closer, I am not sure. If there is a better free, off the shelf solution than google calendar that will easily solve this problem then I would be open to hearing about it.
posted by sophist to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can make one person in charge of editing the calendar, so only they can book/assign time.

You could also assign blocks of time randomly/equally, and leave it up to individuals to trade for the slots they want.
posted by chunking express at 10:49 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

2nding the assign time equally and let them sort it out between them
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:41 AM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Get a big corkboard, and with masking tape, block out the schedule for next N weeks (or whatever interval makes sense)

Hand out an equal number of printed/numbered index cards of different colors to each group. The groups then schedule themselves by placing their card on the board.

Trading/selling/bartering of cards for favors is permitted/encouraged. You may need to place some nerf weapons in front of the board for 'arbitration'.
posted by joshwa at 12:36 PM on December 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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