When Are Group Scheduling Tools Useful?
A geographically dispersed department at the MITRE Corporation participated in a field test of groupware tools. This paper documents the results of their use of a group scheduling tool, Meeting Maker Version 1.5. Research in the late 1980s showed that early group scheduling tools were not useful, in part because they only benefited some users and hence critical mass could not be attained. This study was undertaken to determine whether and how far the tools have evolved. Participants said that Meeting Maker made it easy to schedule meetings and maintain their calendars, and 90% wished to continue using it after the study was complete. Problems were noted when not everyone used or had access to the tool, and three generic solutions are discussed: capabilities that allow users to communicate with non-users, capabilities that allow users to stay connected, and lightweight methods of participation.