How to improve meetings

Why your team needs scheduling software: Microsoft Bookings vs. Calendly

How to improve meetingsContributed by Dan Izydorek, EO Detroit. Dan is a partner at ITS Detroit and chief revenue officer of Intelligent Technical Solutions, which helps growing businesses fully leverage technology to improve business efficiency. Dan and his team shared their expertise on how scheduling software can improve productivity—and which ones are best. 

In an ideal world, scheduling important business meetings is as easy as saying: “See you at 3pm!” In reality, it’s more like playing a twisted game of Tetris, where you spend too much time arranging and adjusting schedules, hoping the pieces fall into place. 

Trying to corral people with varying workloads, deadlines and schedules into one time slot can be overwhelming. The constant back-and-forth eats up a lot of time—around 4.75 hours per workweek on average, according to a Hubspot white paper.  

Consider how many meetings you (and your team) organize or attend each day, and that time adds up quickly. In an average employee’s 48 working weeks a year; if they spend 4.75 hours per week planning meetings, that’s 228 hours per year! And that’s the time spent arranging meetings, not attending them.  

To save your team time and headaches, meeting scheduling software can reduce the back-and-forth between organizers and participants—the part which takes the most time. According to some software providers, it can cut the time spent setting appointments by half.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of the two most popular meeting scheduling software choices.

Calendly vs. Microsoft Bookings 

At ITS, we’ve helped hundreds of businesses improve their processes with technology. From our experience, a good scheduling app is a boon for any business that needs to conduct multiple meetings a week. Let’s compare the two most viable meeting scheduler choices: the best in class, Calendly, and the easiest option to implement, Microsoft Bookings. 

What is Calendly?  

Calendly is a simple, intuitive scheduling software to help businesses manage appointments more easily. It’s highly customizable and easy to integrate with existing calendars and platforms. It virtually eliminates the back-and-forth when scheduling meetings. The app also frequents the top slot for “best of” meeting schedulers in articles comparing app options. 

Pros of Calendly
  • Seamless integration with multiple platforms and calendars. Calendly seamlessly connects with different platforms and calendars, from Google calendars to Outlook and more. It’s perfect for scheduling meetings with clients and prospects that use a different environment from yours. 
  • Intuitive, user-friendly design. The software’s intuitive design adds to its user-friendliness. It has a slight learning curve that allows almost everyone to take advantage of the app easily. 
  • Highly customizable. Calendly enables you to customize meeting preferences including your number of appointments each day and how much time you need before each meeting. The “available times” feature lets your team know your preferred meeting times. Its features empower you to take full control of your schedule. With the professional version, you can customize your confirmation page and redirect invitees elsewhere. It also integrates with Stripe, Paypal, Hubspot, Mailchimp, Google Analytics, Zapier and more. 
  • Automated workflows automation. This feature helps to make meetings run more smoothly. Calendly can automate text messages when a meeting is booked, request follow-up meetings, and send email reminders, thank-you emails and feedback surveys. 
Cons of Calendly 
  • Lack of clarity on user response. Calendly shows how many people clicked on your appointment–but not how many confirmed. That could lead to uncertainty, especially if several members are invited to a meeting. 
  • Limited features for free version. The free version of Calendly offers limited features, which can feel inadequate for users who conduct a high volume of client meetings. Without investing in a paid version of the software, you’ll only get the basics. Paid versions of Calendly include Essentials (US$8 per seat, per month), Professional (US$12 per seat, per month), and Teams (US$16 per seat, per month). 

What is Microsoft Bookings? 

Microsoft Bookings is a scheduling app that’s part of Microsoft 365. It includes a web-based booking calendar that integrates with Outlook to help make scheduling and managing appointments easier. It’s also free for many Microsoft 365 users, including Business Premium and Business Standard license holders. 

Pros of Microsoft Bookings 
  • Free for Microsoft 365 users. If you are licensed for Business Premium, Business Standard, A3, A5, E3, E5, F1 or F3, you’ll be pleased to know that Microsoft Bookings comes free with your license. Access is also given to any staff granted Administrator and Viewer roles within the Microsoft 365 Web experience. A great boon if you’re already subscribed or considering subscribing to the stated products. 
  • Easy to implement. Microsoft Bookings offers easy, step-by-step guides to help your team maximize the app. It’s designed to be very convenient to use for both clients and teams, with advanced features that enable you to customize reservation pages and schedule preferences. You can also add employees who do not have a Microsoft 365 account—as long as they have an email address, they can receive email confirmations and calendar invites. 
  • Seamless integration with Microsoft products. If you’re already running a Microsoft environment, it’s easier to implement Bookings compared with other apps. That’s because the scheduler is already well integrated with other Microsoft products including Teams and Outlook. 
Cons of Microsoft Bookings
  • Limited customization and features. While you can add personal touches to your reservation pages, Microsoft Bookings simply doesn’t have the same level of customization and features available with Calendly Professional. 
  • Moderate learning curve. Unlike Calendly’s user-friendly interface, Microsoft Bookings can take a bit more time to adopt. However, it’s still relatively easy to grasp, thanks to useful step-by-step guides. 

Ready to choose your scheduling software? 

You can’t go wrong with either Calendly or Microsoft Bookings. While each has its own unique quirks, they both deliver great value and make scheduling appointments a breeze. It all depends on whether you’re willing to spend for Calendly’s extra features or if you’re already running a Microsoft environment in the office. 

This post, written by Mark Sheldon Villanueva, first appeared on the ITS website and is reposted here with permission.

For more insights and inspiration from today’s leading entrepreneurs, check out EO on Inc. and more articles from the EO blog

Categories: Best Practices BUSINESS GROWTH OPERATIONS Technology


Comments are closed.