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Case Study #2: Conference Room Reservation System

This is an advanced case study that involves scheduling complexities and other elaborate requirements, representative of a real-world modeling challenge. It's best suited to an instructor-led group modeling exercise rather than as an individual exercise for a beginning-level modeler.


We've been asked to develop an automated Conference Room Reservation System (CRRS) for our organization.

  • A total of a dozen conference rooms are scattered across the four different buildings that comprise our facility. These rooms differ in terms of their seating capacities as well as what audiovisual (A/V) equipment is permanently installed in each room.

  • Each of these rooms is overseen by a different administrative staff member, known as a Conference Room Coordinator.

  • Reservations are presently being recorded manually by the various Conference Room Coordinators. The name of the person reserving the room, as well as his or her telephone number, is jotted by hand in an appointment book; the start and stop time of the meeting is also noted.

  • A separate, central organization called the A/V Equipment Group provides "loaner" A/V equipment to supplement any equipment that may be permanently installed in a given conference room. Equipment that is available for temporary use through this group includes conventional overhead projectors, televisions, VCRs, LCD projectors for use with PCs, electronic whiteboards, laptop computers, tape recorders, and slide projectors. Personnel from this group deliver equipment directly to the locale where it's needed, and pick it up after the meeting is concluded.

The following problems have been noted regarding the present manual system:

  • At present, no supplemental information regarding the number of attendees or planned A/V equipment usage is being noted by the Conference Room Coordinators for a given meeting.

    • If someone planning a meeting involving only 4 people schedules a room with the capacity for 20, the excess capacity in that room will be wasted. Meanwhile, someone truly needing a room for 20 people will be left short.

    • Meeting planners must also be responsible for separately coordinating with the A/V Equipment Group; if they forget to do so, panic often ensues as folks scramble to arrange necessary equipment at the last minute.

  • Whenever a given room's Coordinator is away from his or her desk, information about that room's availability is inaccessible, unless the inquirer wishes to walk to the Coordinator's office and inspect the appointment book directly. However, due to the size of the office complex, this isn't practical, so inquirers typically leave a voicemail message or send an email to the Coordinator, who gets back to them at a later point in time.

  • People are lax about canceling reservations when a room is no longer needed, so rooms often sit vacant that could otherwise be put to good use. Similarly, they often forget to cancel A/V equipment reservations.

  • Pertinent information about the rooms (e.g., their seating capacity, whether or not they have a white board, whether or not they have built-in A/V facilities, whether or not they are "wired" into the company's LAN) isn't presently published anywhere. Someone unfamiliar with the amenities of the various rooms often winds up having to call all 12 of the Conference Room Coordinators in search of an appropriate meeting location.

Goals for the System

We've been asked by management to design a system for providing online, automated conference room and equipment scheduling to remedy the problems of the current manual approach. The goals of this project are to provide the ability for any employee to directly connect into the system to perform the following tasks:

  • If the user is interested in scheduling a room for a meeting, he or she will be required to complete an online questionnaire regarding the parameters of the meeting, to include

    • The scheduler's name, title, department, and telephone number

    • The number of attendees anticipated

    • A date range, indicating the earliest and latest acceptable date for the meeting

    • The length of time that the room will be required, in half-hour increments

    • An earliest acceptable start time and latest acceptable stop time

    • A list of all A/V equipment required

  • As soon as this questionnaire is completed, the system will present the user with a list of all available suitable room alternatives. The user will be able to select from these options to reserve a room, or change his or her criteria and repeat the search.


Note that the system need not "remember" these criteria after the user logs off.

  • When confirming a reservation, the user must designate a subject or purpose for the meeting, such as "Demo of CRRS Prototype."

  • After a room has been selected, the system will then determine what "loaner" A/V equipment will be needed to supplement the equipment that is permanently installed in that room, and will automatically arrange for its delivery.


For purposes of this case study, we won't worry about running out of equipment—we'll assume an infinite supply of everything—although in real life this would also have to be a consideration.

  • If no rooms meeting the user's requirements are available, the user will be presented with a list of suitable rooms with the number of people waitlisted for each. The user will be able to optionally place his or her name at the end of the waiting list for one of these rooms.

    • When such a request is posted, the system is to send a courtesy email to the person holding that room's reservation, asking that person to rethink his or her need for the room.

    • Should the room on the waiting list become available, it will automatically be temporarily reserved for the first person on the waiting list. An email message is to be sent automatically to the requestor, giving that person 72 hours to confirm his or her selection before the room is either (a) reassigned (again, temporarily) to the next person on the waiting list or (b) becomes generally available if the waiting list has been exhausted.

  • A user should be permitted to query the system as to who has a particular room reserved at a given date and time, or to perform a search for a given meeting that the user is to attend based on (a) scheduler or (b) subject.

  • The user must be able to cancel a room reservation at any time, whether confirmed or waitlisted.

  • The A/V Equipment Group wishes to periodically run a report, sorted by equipment type, indicating how many times a given piece of equipment was used over a 12-month period.

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