From Drudgery to Delight

A feature-rich meeting planner and polling application promises more efficient, effective meetings

Photo: Al MacKinnon, Kyle Mayer and Barney Lawn of CoreSolutions Software Inc.

SOMETIMES, THE ONLY way to call a meeting is to call a meeting to discuss it—a vicious circle of communication hell.

Beyond brute force emailing and texting, there are software solutions to simplify the process. But a couple of years ago, when Al MacKinnon suddenly found himself scheduling a plethora of meetings, he decided there had to be a better way.

“I found the process challenging and time-consuming,” he recalls. “The products out there, like Doodle and Meeting Wizard, had weak interfaces. They just weren’t all that good.”

“I was on a lot of boards, organizing a lot of meetings that required real structure and a quorum. It was frustrating. I knew it could be improved” —Al MacKinnon

MacKinnon is a former partner at Protek Integrated Business Services. When the partners sold the business, he took some time to think about his next move.

“I call that Al Between Careers,” he laughs. “I was on a lot of boards, organizing a lot of meetings that required real structure and a quorum. It was ­frustrating. I knew it could be improved.”

Late in 2015, he joined CoreSolutions Software Inc., the venerable software developer created by Barney Lawn nearly three decades ago. “I talked to Barney about this idea. He liked it and encouraged me to develop it.”

The result is a CoreUM (rhymes with quorum), released in June, a product that promises to help organizers set up meetings in two easy steps. CoreUM comes in three levels, starting with free. The step above that is VIP, at US$29 per year after an initial month of free use. It’s ad-free and includes a quorum organizing function.

A step above that is where the product really shines, giving organizations the opportunity to brand CoreUM as their own, integrating it with their corporate communications when reaching out to clients and others outside their organization to schedule meetings. The corporate level is US$299 per year, going up slightly for larger organizations with more than 100 users.

“And of course, it is backed up with the same support system we offer for all our products, so you never have to worry about getting help if you need it,” says marketing manager, Kyle Mayer.

“You can use this to organize meetings, golf games, reunions—­anything where you need to coordinate people’s schedules,” MacKinnon says. “I think it’s particularly useful in sales, where you want to keep momentum going on any event.”

Meeting organizers simply enter a few suggested dates and times along with any notes about the meeting. The app emails everyone invited and asks them to vote on their preferred time. With the responses, it sets a time and can issue calendar invites. It can also track attendance for board meetings and manage quorum requirements.

“It’s the solution I was looking for a few years ago,” MacKinnon says.  Christopher Clark