Comparison of Online Scheduling Software for Shared Resources

Shuyou Li, Ph.D.

FOM Networks

http://www.fomnetworks.com/

224-225-9168

 

DISCLAIMER: This comparison is merely based on my personal experience and observation. It might be biased or wrong. If you see any error in this page and it is proved to be true, I will be happy to correct the information; if you are the owner of one software listed in this page and would like not to be listed for comparison, please inform me.

Many people use online programs for scheduling of shared resources of many different types, from scientific instruments to core facilities, conference rooms, ball fields, or projectors. Depending on the resource, more or less sophistication is needed in the software. Shared scientific instruments present one of the more challenging situations for managers, particularly when billing users and creating accurate reports for administrators or funders.

Below you will find a table comparing a number of online scheduling software systems. Some are free or open source. Many are targeted as online calendars for a specific purposes, such as making doctor appointments, scheduling a meeting, or dating. This type of software does not offer the features required to be effective for scientific instrument scheduling.

Scheduling and management of scientific instruments has its own requirements that managers take into consideration. In use in university labs since 2002, FOM Networks, designed and programmed by shared facility managers to meet their own unmet needs, addresses all these requirements:

  Many instruments cannot accommodate double booking, while others must allow double booking (for example, clean room sharing).

  To ensure accurate record of usage, there must be a way to prevent users from using instruments without logging in the scheduler.

  There must be authorization/authentication procedure to prevent un-authorized access to the instrument, barring those not trained from very expensive instruments.

  If the instruments use, service, or commodity is chargeable, verifying user's financial accounts and status before the instance saves time attempting to recover costs later.

  There must be a lock-down mechanism so users cannot use the instrument when it is taken out of service for any reason.

  User fees tied to reservations must be cancelled when instrument is not in service.

  Automated billing, rather than paper log sheets, saves staff time and ensures accuracy.

  Managers need to manually change schedule and billing records on occasion.


Software Programs 1-5

Software

FOM Networks

Calendar for Web

Calcium/iCal

Schedulebook

AppointmentQuest

Website

Fomnetworks.com

Greathill.com

brownbearsw.com

schedulebook.com

AppointmentQuest.com

Program language

Java

Perl/CGI

Perl/CGI

ColdFusion

Java

Portability

Any browser

Any browser

Any browser

Any browser

Any browser

Multiple calendars

Unlimited

Pay per calendar

Pay per calendar

Pay per calendar

Pay per Calendar

Views/formats

Day/Week/Month

Day/wk/mo/yr

Day/wk/mo/yr

Day/mo

Week

Mass email list

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Flexible time increments

Customizable

Choose from duration list

User input

Choose from duration list

User input

User levels & controls

SysAdmin/FacAdmin/

Manager/User

Creator/attendee

Creator/attendee

7 levels

Staff/user

Recurring events

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Booking time limit

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Export calendar

Outlook

No

Outlook

No

Outlook

Hardware access control

Yes

No

No

No

No

Double booking

Customizable

Always allow

Always allow

Configurable

Always allow

Acct # validation

Yes

No

No

No

No

Disable calendar with equip down

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Charge per sample, operation mode, service, or staff time

Yes

No

No

No

No

Safety training record

Yes

No

No

No

No

Billing reports

Yes

No

No

No

No

Collab. tracking

Yes

No

No

No

No

Usage reports

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Hosted online svc

Free/unlimited

$179/yr/calendar

$50/yr/calendar

$269/yr/calendar

$300/mo/calendar

Trial period

60 days

30 days

no

30 days

30 days

Customized server

Quote (4 types - free to site license)

$150/calendar

$1200 for 50

$195/calendar;

$1995 for 50 ;

N/A

N/A

 Software Programs 6-10

Software

FOM Networks

ResourceScheduler

Google Cal

phpScheduleIt

Faces

Coral*

Website

Fomnetworks.com

Peoplecube.com

Google.com

brickhost.com

ccrc.uga.edu

Stanford.edu

Program language

Java

Java

Google App

PHP5

PHP4/Java

Java

Portability

Any browser

Client needs JRE

Any browser

Any browser

Client needs JRE

Special client software

Multiple calendars

Unlimited

Yes

No

Unlimited

Unlimited

Unlimited

Views/formats

Day/Week/Month

Day/wk/mo

Day/wk/mo

Day/wk/mo

Week

Day/Week

Mass email list

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Flexible time increments

Customizable

User input

User input

User input

User input

Customizable

User levels & controls

SysAdmin/FacAdmin/

Manager/User

Manager/user

Creator/attendee

Staff/user

Manager/user

Coral/Staff/admin/user

Recurring events

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Booking time limit

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

Export calendar

Outlook

Outlook

No

XML

No

No

Hardware access control

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

Double booking

Customizable

No

Always allowed

No

No

No

Acct # validation

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Disable calendar with equip down

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Charge per sample, operation mode, service, or staff time

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Safety training record

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Billing reports

Yes

No

No

No

No

Yes

Collab. tracking

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Usage reports

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Hosted online svc

Free/unlimited

Quote

Free

Free

Free

N/A

Trial period

60 days

30 days

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Customized server

Quote (4 types - free to site license)

Quote

N/A

Free

N/A

N/A

 

Acknowledgements:

* Thanks to John Shott at Standford providing information on Coral system.