Scheduling Shared Equipment
August 5, 2012 6:08 PM   Subscribe

SchedulingFilter: We have five widgets and ten people who want to use them. How do we keep track of who's using a widget and which ones are checked out?

We don't usually have a shortage of widgets so it's not a problem of making sure everyone gets a fair shake. The main problem is being able to confirm which widgets are currently in use and who's using them; currently we just have one or two people who we coordinate through, but those people have meetings or take vacation or are otherwise busy sometimes. One thing is that people can use more than one widget at a time. There are a lot of potential widget users, not all of whom communicate regularly.

Is there some kind of software for keeping track of this? Our internal calendar system is unsuitable because it assumes a person is only in one place at one time. It would be nice to have page that shows a list of widgets and who has reserved each one at a given time.
posted by 23 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Does your internal calendar system have the ability to add and reserve rooms? If so, setting up each widget as a room, and having the people involved reserve them with their names the same way you would normally reserve a meeting room might work?
posted by brainmouse at 6:21 PM on August 5, 2012

brainmouse: Thought about that, and though it is possible, that makes the calendar system kind of useless for making sure people are free for meetings, which is its most important function right now. It also makes a lot of noise if you're in more than one place at a time.
posted by 23 at 6:27 PM on August 5, 2012

You could probably use software intended to assist with managing small libraries. There are many such packages. For example, for free you could use Classroom Organizer (although it's "classroom" branding might look unprofessional in your setting) by adding each widget via the “Add a book without an ISBN" option.
posted by RichardP at 6:52 PM on August 5, 2012

If you really don't actually need the scheduling functionality and you're just trying to keep track of them, how about just using a whiteboard application like Google Drawing with a list of the widget-users and just circle or highlight the name of the person who has it currently. You could have a separate whiteboard for each widget or track them all together in a single one. (Or, of course, you could use a physical whiteboard.)
posted by XMLicious at 7:36 PM on August 5, 2012

phpScheduleIt does exactly what you need, but I wonder if your internal calendaring system supports delegation: i.e. make each widget an entity with its own calendar that all ten people can manage as delegates without having to be in a 'meeting' with the widget. Each appointment on the widget's calendar would have no real link to the person who has the widget--just a description noting who has it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:11 PM on August 5, 2012

GCStar is a widget tracking application. If they don't have a predefined fieldset, you can build your own. Or you can modify an existing one to suit your needs.

I'm not sure what calendering system you're using, as all the one's I've used (Zimbra, Outlook, Google, davical) most support marking an event on a calendar as "free".
posted by pwnguin at 9:16 PM on August 5, 2012

Two thoughts:
1. Using the "rooms" function doesn't make it so people show as unavailable so long as they don't chose the "busy" status assigned with the appointment they've set up. At least, this has always been an option in the calendar stuff I use.

2. We use gapps for this functionality with company vehicles. However, because gapps gives you no icon relative to the widget, it's hard to look at a day and see if it's available without trying to schedule it and finding it unlisted. The dirty workaround we went with was to actually give the widget a user account, e.g. "The Car" and set its calendar to bookable by everyone. Then, when you're scheduling needing it, you just book your day to "The Car's" calendar using your name. Like this "Joe Schmo 9am-5pm Home Visit San Francisco".
posted by TomMelee at 4:50 AM on August 6, 2012

Thank you all for all the suggestions so far - phpScheduleIt is, in fact, pretty much what I want, if a little featureful.

I don't want to threadsit, but I did want to say that while I'm thankful for the general calendar software tips, I can't get much use out of them. Our internally used software is entrenched enough it isn't going away, but it's hilariously awful, including such anti-features as not being to add people to an event except when initially creating it. This generally means that any but the most conservative of these tips won't help me much.
posted by 23 at 7:11 AM on August 6, 2012

« Older Switching from a major oil/gas shop to a small...   |   Où sont les audiobooks d'antan? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.