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The aim of this chapter is to analyze the similar appointment systems to gain a better understanding into the system functionality and usability issues such as use of color, layout of the screen and navigation. It will study to understand the system features of different type of the appointment booking system such. The aim of this research is to find the characteristics of an appointment booking system, through analyses the similar existing appointment system in to order to view their functionality and understanding sequence of task. However, through-out the research the author can gained understanding and knowledge about the system, which then could be contributing to design of the Appointment System.
Appointment System is design to be use by De Montfort University of students and staff. Therefore, this research is carries out to understand that the most important functionality of the Appointment System, to developing a system that will enable lecturer and student to manage appointment scheduling more efficiently and effectively.
2.1.1 Definition of Web-based Appointment Booking System
"Appointment scheduling software allows businesses and professionals to manage appointment scheduling. Web-based appointment scheduling software allows professionals to put their schedules online, and customers to book their own appointments. This facilitates appointment management over the web: customers can access their usual professionals' schedules 24/7 and make appointments online through the Internet" (Sensagent). In other words, in the context of the academic environment, allows the lecturer to manage appointment scheduling more effectively and also allows students to male appointments with faculty through the internet. Web-based Appointment Booking System facilitates both user student and lecturer to interact in an efficient and organized manner.
The booking system delivers to the De Montfort University is highly functional such as provide them with the ability to administer by themselves. For example, lecturers have the ability to add new availability time slots, view appointment and cancel appointments, whereas student have the ability to view and book appointment with preferred lecturer, cancel appointment and also ability to access to system from anywhere in University campus, home or work place.
2.2 Analysis of similar Appointment Systems
"There are three distinct types of online booking systems. The simplest is the web form which allows the user to select their service, their service space and their service time. An email message containing that information is then submitted to the business.
A more advanced system involves a connection between the business computer and a database on a remote server. When appointment information is entered locally into the business software, the business will then synchronize the appointment data in their remote database with the appointment data on their local computer. Appointment information in the remote database can then be used to display available service space and service time to their web site visitors.
The third type of online booking system removes the need for local software because it is self contained. It will include a database and an interface which, like local software, organizes the information contained in the database into a visually meaningful arrangement" (Online Booking System).
2.2.1 McMaster University- Web-based Appointment Booking Systems for Career Service (WABS).
McMaster University is based in Canada, offer career advising to their student through web-based facilities which allows the student to book career services session. Student can select specified data in order to check the availability. To book an appointment, students just need to select plus sign "+" hyperlink, which then allow the student to enter all relevant information. The following features have been included in WABS (see Appendix 1).
Select specified date in order to book an appointment for career service.
Select availability slot by clicking on "+" hyperlink.
Student needs to enter relevant information such as name, email, telephone number and reason for appointment
Student need to book appointment three days in advance.
Confirmation email will be sent to student when appointment successfully reserved.
2.2.2 The University of WaiKato - M.S.C Appointment Booking System
The University of WaiKato is based in New Zealand, provide prgramme advice or language and learning support to their students via "MyWeb" to book appointment online. The following features have been included in appointment booking system (see Appendix 2).
Enable student to select the type of appointment from drop menu. Then, it will bring up the calendar of appointments showing the days and times that are available.
Student can select available time and date to make appointment from calendar.
Student asked to enter user ID number or user name, phone number and reason for making the appointment.
To book appointment/create appointment, a list of instructions is given for student need to complete before appointment.
Student need to agree to terms and conditions
Student can cancel appointment by clicking on the red cross X by appointment time and name.
Confirmation of appointment will be email to student.
2.2.3 Concordia University John Molson School of Business- Recruitment Appointment Booking System.
Concordia University is based in Canada, provide recruit facilities to MBA students through book an appointment with recruitment team. The following features have been included in appointment booking system (see Appendix 3).
First page contained two main functions such as 'Book Appointment' and 'View, Modify or cancel Appointment'.
Second page, allows the student to select appropriate available days and time slots from list of availability with open/full status. It also contained view and cancel function on this page.
Third page, displays different times, each time slots is 45 minutes long and student need to click prefer time slots. Then, student will be asked to enter personal information such as name, email, phone number and any specific request.
Last page, student will be asked to enter phone number in order to cancel appointment.
2.2.4 University of the Arts London- Equipment Booking System.
"The University has a wide number of resources available for use by students as part of their courses. Specifically, the University makes available for use a number of Studios, Studio Equipment and a wide range of other Mobile Equipment. The value of this equipment is high and the demand for them by students is equally high. Added to this, lecturers and technical staff also require access to the equipment.
Control of the use of this equipment had become an extremely laborious and difficult task for the University. Hundreds of users were requiring equipment on a daily basis. The nature of the activity, particularly photo shoots, meant that plans and requirements would change from day to day. Priorities were needed to determine the fair use of equipment amongst students in different phases of their course; and amongst university staff. Added to this was the complication that some equipment was mobile while other equipment was only available if the student had booked a studio where this equipment could be used" (Net Media Business Solutions).
The solution provided by NetMedia is highly functional as the following features include that in an Equipment Booking System,
Student and staff can book equipment through online from anywhere using username and password to logon to the system.
Ability to view available and to book equipment.
Ability to remove or cancel booking equipment.
Confirmation of the book equipment is sent by email.
2.2.5 University of Hull - Appointment System for Study Advice Service.
University of Hull is based in UK, provide Study advice service throughout the summer vacation to their students. Students can get full details of appointment availability are in the system booking system. The following features have been included in appointment booking system (see Appendix 4).
Campus user ID and password access to the system.
Search option in the form of drop down menu, to select appropriate tutor from the list.
Select available time slots from table as it respectively in form of row and column for date and time.
Cancel an appointment login with student ID and password.
Appointment reminder to the student.
Confirmation of the appointment is sent by email.
2.3 Features Comparison
The main purpose of features comparison is to identifying the most important features in the appointment system, it could be incorporate in Lecturer Appointment Booking System. It will be focus on appointment management and account set-up aspects. Appointment management means does the system provide basic features available time and day navigation, confirmation of the appointment, does the system help the user to manage effectively and efficiently such as search appointment, cancel and view appointment. Account set-up means does the system provide user to register and does the user need login before to book appointment.
The features of the appointment system as shown below;
The university of Waikato
University of the Arts London
University of Hull
Available date and time navigation
Confirmation of the appointment
Search for day and time
Display appointment details
Set available time
Are users able to add, edit or delete appointment.
The main functions of the appointment system that has been identified through the five similar website researched such as search, make and cancel appointments with confirmation. Most of university appointment systems require the student to login using student ID number and password. This is because the system is designed only for their student and staff. The appointment system is design to operate in a multi-campus environment, and as such will involve staff and students dispersed over a wide geographical area. Therefore, many of university considered security issues in order to ensure that user information is secure and only access by authority users.
According to the researched the University of Waikato, University of the Arts London and University of Hull used login procedure, only allows their students and staff access to the system. Whereas, McMaster University and Concordia University students and staff require to register in order to use the appointment booking system.
McMaster University and Concordia University used similar function for checking the availability, as it based on calendar. The advantage of this approach makes it easier for student to allocate available day and time slot and it's visually clear. Whereas, University of Hull, the University of Waikato and University of the Arts London used search function for available time slots from drop down menu, as student have to look up the day and time, and then student able see if the lecturer is available. The advantage of search function which allowing student to search for particular day and time slot of the availability.
Overall, most of university appointment system requires user ID and password in order to book appointment. The basic features of the appointment system have been identified throughout the research such as login procedure, search function to check the availability, view and cancel appointment. These main features could be integrated in a new system to ensure that a new system meet minimum functions. In addition, the advantages of this research is that developer can acknowledge all basic knowledge and understanding of the appointment system, which will help developer to design a new system more efficiency in terms of making sure that the system provide all main features to user in order to accomplish tasks without having an difficulties. This research also provide an initial ideas to developer, again it help to produce prototype of the development system. Prototype is show look and feel, screen layout and navigation of the system to the user in order to gathering requirements. It could be use as communicate medium between developer and user, helps the user to articulate what they want and needs from the system.
2.4 Characteristics of an Appointment Booking System
Throughout the researched the researcher has identifies characteristics of an appointment booking system, which might be helps developer during the implementation of the Lecturer Appointment Booking System. These are following;
They allow students and staff to select date and time slot of the appointment.
Check the availability of the appointment of the prefer staff/lecturer.
Enable student book appointment.
Enable student change or cancel appointment.
They allow lecturers to post their availability.
2.5 Contribution to the Lecturer Appointment Booking System
To development of the lecturer appointment booking system will be similar to the University of Waikato. In terms of system functionalities such as login procedure, search function to check the availability, book appointment, cancel and view appointment function. Developer will be considering all points that the researcher has been gained understanding and knowledge of the appointment system throughout the researched. In other words, all main functions will be incorporate to a new system. Ensuring that development of the appointment system's main page is efficiency and effectively in terms of easy to use, easy to learn and easy to navigate. This could be achieve by providing simple functionalities and thus students and staff able to manage appointment more easily without having any difficulties. According to the researched, the University of Waikato provides main function, which allows the students and staff to operate the system easily e.g. student can search for lecturer's availability is shown on the calendar.
Overall, during the research the researcher has gained information of functionalities of the appointment systems. This valuable information has been achieved through the analyses the similar appointment system, in order to develop a further understanding of features and task sequence of the appointment system. The knowledge gained throughout the research, this could be applied to development of the Lecturer Appointment Booking System in order to meet user's expectation and users need. In other words, this also has given a better understanding of what the users like to see on the system. This will also help developer in order to identify initial ideas for the development of the system, which then developer able to produce the system efficiency and effectively.
2.7 Reference List/ Bibliography
Concordia University: Recruitment Appointment Booking System.
Available From: http://johnmolson.concordia.ca/en/graduate-programs/mba-program/book-an-appointment
McMaster University: Web-based Appointment Booking Systems for Career Service
Available From: http://www.science.mcmaster.ca/scce/appointment/day.php?day=14&month=6&year=2010&area=1
Net Media Business Solutions: University of the Arts London
Available From: http://www.netmedia.co.uk/pages/cs_ual.htm
Online Booking System: Online Appointment Systems Defined
Available From: http://www.mynextappointment.com/onlinebooking.php
Sensagent: Definition of Appointment scheduling software
Available From : http://dictionary.sensagent.com/appointment+scheduling+software/en-en/
The University of WaiKato - M.S.C Appointment Booking System
Available From: http://wms-soros.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/Departments/Management+Student+Centre/Contact/Programme+Advice.htm
University of Hull - Appointment System for Study Advice Service.
Available From: http://www2.hull.ac.uk/student/studyadvice/howtousetheservice/appointments.aspx