FindTime, a meeting organizer service, has been brought into Outlook Web App for Office 365. Now called “Find a time”, this Microsoft Garage success story has reduced the time and complexity in choosing a meeting time that is common for meeting invitees. In FindTime, a meeting organizer creates a meeting poll. They add some attendees, suggest some times and send the poll via email. Attendees can vote for a time they prefer and suggest a different time if none suit. Once everyone has voted for their preferred time, the meeting organizer received an email and can finalize the meeting time. FindTime also offered to automatically finalize the meeting based on the number of votes for a preferred time. I have found this tool invaluable for organizing meetings with people outside my organization. Internally, I have made use of the scheduling assistant that shows me free/busy where available.
“Find a time” combines the meeting poll with the scheduling assistant. Open the calendar in Outlook Web App for Office 365 and create an event. As you invite people from your organization, you’ll see the scheduling assistant suggest times that suit you all. When you click Find a time, you can add other times you’re available. In the video below, I choose the additional times using the drop down date menus. But you can click time slots in the schedule assistant too.
An invitee within your organization will receive an email and can respond to the meeting poll from within the message. They vote for the times they prefer and send their availability.
Invitees outside of your organization will receive an email with the proposed times and a link to choose their preferred times. The link is unique to the invite and the invitee. There’s no need for them to be signed up to Office 365. They can see what others have voted for and can choose their preferred time.
When they see what others have voted for, it influences their decision, helping further to reach a consensus. Interestingly, “consensus” appears in the URL for the meeting poll.
For now, “Find a time” is available only within Outlook Web App for Office 365. We should see an addition to the meeting invite toolbar in Outlook 2016 soon, to create meeting polls from the desktop. I expect the Outlook mobile app will eventually receive something similar.
“Find a time” is a welcome addition to Outlook and as mentioned, a good example of successful experiment from the Microsoft Garage that has become a fully-fledged feature of the full Outlook product.
Also published on Medium.