The only thing worse than company meetings is trying to schedule one. The more people who need to be at that meeting, the harder it is to find a time slot that works with everyone’s schedule. A new Google Calendar Labs feature called the Smart Rescheduler brings some search smarts to the problem. “Overnight, all the Google apps customers will get this,” says Google Calendar product manager Cyrus Mistry. “It is like we are giving every employee their own administrative assistant.”
The person scheduling the meeting enters the names of the participants, how long the meeting will be, and a date by when the meeting must take place. The Smart Rescheduler then goes out and looks at everyone’s calendar to see when everyone is free, taking into account different time zones and other commitments on their calendars (in order for this to work, all the meeting attendees must share their calendars with Google Calendar).
All too often at this point in the process, someone has a conflict. What the Rescheduler does is look at all the soft constraints and actually ranks the best meeting times. Different attendees can be prioritized so the meeting is set around their schedule. Soft constraints are taken into account like partial schedule overlaps, times blocked with no other attendees, meetings where someone’s been invited but hasn’t yet accepted, or meetings organized by that person. These factors often indicate a schedule that can be altered.
Google Calendar throws all of these factors together and comes up with a ranking for the best possible meeting time. “We did look at algorithms for search to see how they solved which doc should come to the top,” says Mistry. “We discover what meeting should come out on top.” The Rescheduler can even book new conference rooms based on which one is closest to the original one and the same size.