METHOD AND MEETING SCHEDULER FOR AUTOMATED MEETING SCHEDULING USING DELEGATES, REPRESENTATIVES, QUORUMS AND TEAMS

US 2008 40 184A1

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A method, meeting scheduler and computer program product are provided for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams. Meeting settings and invitees data are stored for a meeting. The meeting settings and invitees data includes invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data. A solution time block for automated meeting scheduling including at least a subset of a plurality of selected invitees is identified utilizing the invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data. A selection score is calculated for each potential time block for automated meeting scheduling utilizing the stored meeting settings and invitees data including the invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data. The solution time block for automated meeting scheduling including a subset of a plurality of selected invitees is identified utilizing the calculated selection score.

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Claims

1. A method for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams performed by an electronic calendar meeting scheduling program, said method comprising the steps of:
storing meeting settings and invitees data for a meeting for each of the delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams; said meeting settings and invitees data including an invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data;
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program calculating a selection score for a plurality of potential time blocks for the automated meeting scheduling utilizing said stored invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data;
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program identifying unusable time blocks utilizing said calculated selection scores including each potential time block having less than a quorum of available quorum members and discarding said identified unusable time blocks to provide potential time blocks for automated meeting scheduling;
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program sorting by said potential time blocks for automated meeting scheduling by said calculated selection scores to identify a solution time block for automated meeting scheduling including at least a subset of a plurality of selected invitees; and
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program storing said identified solution time block for the automated meeting scheduling.
2-29. (canceled)
30. A meeting scheduler for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams comprising:
an electronic calendar meeting scheduling program storing meeting settings and invitees data for each of the delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams for a meeting; said meeting settings and invitees data including an invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data; and
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program calculating a selection score for a plurality of potential time blocks for the automated meeting scheduling and utilizing said stored invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data;
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program identifying unusable time blocks utilizing said calculated selection scores including each potential time block having less than a quorum of available quorum members and discarding said identified unusable time blocks to provide potential time blocks for automated meeting scheduling;
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program sorting by said plurality of said potential time blocks for automated meeting scheduling by said calculated selection scores to identify a solution time block for automated meeting scheduling including at least a subset of a plurality of selected invitees; and
said electronic calendar meeting scheduling program storing said identified solution time block for the automated meeting scheduling.
31-41. (canceled)

Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the data processing field, and more particularly, relates to a method, meeting scheduler and computer program product for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams.

Currently available meeting scheduling systems or calendar systems provide tools to find time for a meeting. Simple processing looks at available time and resources, finds the open space that most closely matches the time, then schedules the time and notifies the attendees.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,050,077 discloses a method of scheduling a meeting among terminal users who are provided with calendaring applications for storing and retrieving times and dated events. A prompting screen is presented to a meeting scheduler with blanks for keying in desired times, dates, and prospective attendees for a meeting. In response to the scheduler keying to this screen, a comparison is made with the calendar of events for each prospective attendee. As a result of the nonavailability of a meeting time which complies with the desired times, dates, and attendees, certain of these factors are automatically altered or relaxed in order to achieve an acceptable meeting time. An option list of meeting times is then presented to the scheduler for selection of a meeting time. Based upon the selection of the scheduler, a meeting notification screen is then constructed for transmittal to each attendee.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,093,901 discloses a method of exchanging entries on calendars being maintained by a first and a second calendar user. An event is automatically scheduled on a second calendar if a classification which is associated with the event is higher than any previous scheduled event for the same time slot. A reply is prepared and transmitted to the first calendar user which requested the scheduling of the event regarding the status of the second user in regards to the scheduled event. Subsequently, if the status of the second user changes in regards to the event, a subsequent reply is prepared and transmitted to the first user setting forth the changed status.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,774,867 discloses a method and apparatus for camping on an electronic calendar that in one embodiment determines, in response to an input of a date, a time and a duration of a proposed meeting between meeting requester and a target, that a conflicting event appears on the target's electronic calendar, monitors the target's electronic calendar to detect the removal of the conflicting event, and schedules a meeting between the requester and the target on their electronic calendars in response to the detection of the removal of the conflicting event.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,890,134 discloses a schedule optimizing algorithm scheduling quality, reducing a schedule cycle time and requiring only marginal increase in computer execution time. Lower quality computerized scheduling programs are substantially improved through the additional steps of sequential left time shifting and right time shifting of respective chronologically sorted completion time and starting time task listings.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,963,913 discloses a system and method for scheduling an event subject to the availability of requested participants. A server application receives event information submitted by a scheduler using a client application to access an event definition page. The event information provides one or more options for scheduling an event and lists a plurality of requested participants. Responsive to receiving the event information, the server application creates an event reply page and an event confirmation page. The server application then creates and sends an electronic mail message to each requested participant to provide information about the one or more options and a link to the event reply page. The server application also creates and sends a message to the scheduler to provide a link to the event confirmation page. The server application then receives reply information submitted by the requested participants using client applications to access the event reply page. The server application processes this reply information together with the original event information to generate one or more potential schedules and then updates the event confirmation page based upon the potential schedules. The server application receives an event confirmation submitted by the scheduler using a client application to access the event confirmation page and then creates and sends a message to each available participant to provide the schedule for the event.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,101,480 discloses a system for scheduling time intervals for a plurality of users on a network comprised database system that stores a profile for each potential invitee of the system at one or more servers. The invitee profiles comprises user profiles wherein each user profile has information regarding available and unavailable times for that user. The system further comprises request generators located remotely from the server and connected over a network that generates a request for allocation of a time interval for one or more of the plurality of invitees. A busy time determination device gathers the profiles for the one or more requested invitees that are available in the database and determining whether those invitees are available during the time interval requested by the request generating means. If not all invitees are available, a best fit determinating system determines a next best time interval.

In general, known meeting scheduling systems search for available times of participants. Some systems distinguish between required attendees and optional attendees. Such systems do not consider many additional possibilities when trying to schedule a meeting. For example, such possibilities not considered include when someone can fill in for someone else at a meeting or when only one person of a team needs to be there to represent the team. In some cases enough of the required attendees must be present to be considered a functioning body, this may be a majority or some other fractional number, in committees this is often referred to as a quorum. In still other cases, team support should be scheduled to be available for consultation, even though they may not need to be present at the meeting.

A need exists for an improved electronic calendar meeting scheduling program and method for automated meeting scheduling. It is desirable to provide such an improved electronic calendar meeting scheduling program and method for automated meeting scheduling that uses delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A principal object of the present invention is to provide a method, meeting scheduler and computer program product for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams. Other important objects of the present invention are to provide such a method, meeting scheduler and computer program product for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams substantially without negative effect and that overcome many of the disadvantages of prior art arrangements.

In brief, a method, meeting scheduler and computer program product are provided for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams. Meeting settings and invitees data are stored for a meeting. The meeting settings and invitees data includes invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data. A solution time block for automated meeting scheduling including at least a subset of a plurality of selected invitees is identified utilizing the invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data.

In accordance with features of the invention, a selection score is calculated for each potential time block for automated meeting scheduling utilizing the stored meeting settings and invitees data including the invitee attendance type, delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams data. The solution time block for automated meeting scheduling including at least a subset of a plurality of selected invitees is identified utilizing the calculated selection score.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The present invention together with the above and other objects and advantages may best be understood from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the invention illustrated in the drawings, wherein:

FIGS. 1A and 1B are block diagram representations illustrating a computer system for implementing methods for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams in accordance with the preferred embodiment;

FIGS. 2, 3A, 3B, 3C, 4, 5A, 5B, 6, and 7 flow charts illustrating exemplary steps for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams in accordance with the preferred embodiment;

FIGS. 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 are diagrams illustrating exemplary menu user entry screens for receiving user selected data for meeting settings, invitee dialog, meeting attendee properties, meeting delegate profiles and meeting delegate properties for implementing methods for automated meeting scheduling using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams in accordance with the preferred embodiment; and

FIG. 13 is a block diagram illustrating a computer program product in accordance with the preferred embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Having reference now to the drawings, in FIGS. 1A and 1B, there is shown a computer or data processing system generally designated by the reference character 100 for carrying out the automated meeting scheduling methods using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams of the preferred embodiment. As shown in FIG. 1A, computer system 100 includes a central processor unit (CPU) 102, a read only memory 103, a random access memory 104, and a display adapter 106 coupled to a display 108. CPU 102 is connected to a user interface (UI) adapter 110 connected to a pointer device and keyboard 112. CPU 102 is connected to an input/output (10) adapter 114 connected to a direct access storage device (DASD) 116 and a tape unit 118. CPU 102 is connected to a communications adapter 120 providing a communications function. It should be understood that the present invention is not limited to a computer model with a single CPU, or other single component architectures as shown in FIG. 1A.

As shown in FIG. 1B, computer system 100 includes an operating system 130 and an electronic calendar meeting-scheduling program 132 of the preferred embodiment. In accordance with features of the preferred embodiment, stored meeting data 134 include meeting setting and invitee data 136, meeting attendee properties data 138, and meeting delegate profiles and meeting delegate properties data 140 of the preferred embodiment. Exemplary meeting setting and invitee data 136 are illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9. Exemplary meeting attendee properties data 138 are illustrated in FIG. 10. Exemplary meeting delegate profiles and meeting delegate properties data 140 are illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12.

Various commercially available computers can be used for computer system 100, for example, an IBM personal computer. CPU 102 is suitably programmed by the electronic calendar meeting scheduling program 132 to execute the flowcharts of FIGS. 2, 3A, 3B, 3C, 4, 5A, 5B, 6, and 7 and for generating exemplary menu user entry screens of FIGS. 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 for receiving user selected data for storing meeting setting and invitee data 136, meeting attendee properties data 138, and meeting delegate profiles and meeting delegate properties data 140 of the preferred embodiment.

In accordance with features of the preferred embodiment, automated meeting scheduling provided by the electronic calendar meeting-scheduling program 132 creates additional categories of attendee groups including delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams to more accurately describe required attendance at a meeting.

In accordance with features of the preferred embodiment, a delegate is a representative who can act in place of another. A group is defined with a primary choice of attendees, and replacement attendees. Each replacement attendee has a score that represents the urgency with which a meeting must happen before the delegate is used instead of the primary choice. If a meeting is scheduled with a delegate, the primary attendee is notified so that they can take alternate action if they are not satisfied with a delegate. In one embodiment, the primary attendee must approve each time a meeting is scheduled where a delegate will represent a required attendee. Different groups can be specified for different topics. A manager can select certain delegates for personnel matter, delegates for a first technical matter and delegates for a second technical matter.

In accordance with features of the preferred embodiment, a representative is similar to a delegate, except there is no primary choice. All members of the representative group have equal priority for selection. Only one available member of the representative group needs to match schedules and only one representative made a required attendee. Other representatives are notified that the meeting is scheduled and someone else is representing the team. The representatives may also carry a number of representative members who must be present, for example, two representative members of a certain team.

In accordance with features of the preferred embodiment, a quorum is an extension of representatives, and carries the number required for quorum. For example, a meeting may require a time slot when 90% of the team members have the time slot open; this is scheduled availability value. An invitation sent to each meeting quorum invitees specifies the number of meeting invitees notified and the number required for the quorum. However, if less than the number required for quorum actually commit to the meeting, or some decommit from the meeting, such that the minimum quorum number are not planning to attend, then the meeting must be moved.

In accordance with features of the preferred embodiment, consultation or team backup options are provided. In addition to notifying other team members who may have delegates or representatives attending meetings for them, there are times when other team members need to be available for consultation. The person does not have to attend the meeting, but they need to be accessible in their office or by phone. For example, the meeting is scheduled together with the person's time for consultation. An invitation sent to each person identified for consultation specifies the purpose of the invitation including a type of consultation. The invitation specifies the number of team member invitees notified and the number of team members required. Consultation team members can work in their office near a phone, or agree to have a cell-phone with them during the scheduled meeting, and may even allow certain kinds of meetings to be interrupted. Thus some meetings may specifically allow sub-scheduling. A person may be on the golf course, but can be scheduled for consultation. Consultation may apply, for example, to an entire team, to one representative, or to a quorum of representatives. An attendee set for consultation is scheduled and is viewed as required for the consultation. For example, even when an attendee is designated as optional, when scheduled for consultation the attendee must be available.

Referring now to FIG. 2, there are shown exemplary steps for automated meeting scheduling methods using delegates, representatives, quorums, and teams in accordance with the preferred embodiment. Meeting scheduling starts as indicated in a block 200. When a new meeting is identified as indicated in a decision block 202, meeting settings data are obtained as indicated in a block 204. Exemplary meeting settings data are illustrated and described with respect to FIG. 8. For each time block as indicated in a decision block 206, a calculate selection score routine is performed as indicated in a block 208. The calculate selection score routine is illustrated and described with respect to FIGS. 3A, 3B, and 3C. Then the unusable solutions are discarded and the calculated selection score results are sorted by highest selection score as indicated in a block 210. Then for each solution as indicated in a decision block 212, an approve meeting routine is performed as indicated in a block 214. The approve meeting routine is illustrated and described with respect to FIG. 4.

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