16 Comments

Summary:

Tired of constant e-mail and phone tag when you’re trying to get meetings set up? If you’re willing to give up a bit of control over your calendar, you can turn to the internet for an answer. By putting your availability out there for all to […]

Tired of constant e-mail and phone tag when you’re trying to get meetings set up? If you’re willing to give up a bit of control over your calendar, you can turn to the internet for an answer. By putting your availability out there for all to see and making it possible for people to grab the times they want, you can implement a self-service approach to setting up meetings. Here are three ways to go about that.

Acuity Scheduling: This hosted offering is aimed at professionals selling fixed-length blocks of time. For example, an accountant might set up appointment types for “initial consultation,” “routine visit,” and “full audit.” You can specify the length of time and billing rate for each appointment type, and create custom forms for users to fill out when they schedule an appointment. Acuity Scheduling also lets you enter your own schedule (including blocked-out days and times, and whether you can handle multiple simultaneous appointments) and then takes care of making sure that you’re not overbooked. You use the web site to see what’s been scheduled for the upcoming week or month. Their free plan lets you schedule 1,000 appointments; for $10/month, you get unlimited use as well as secure credit card processing for payments from your clients.

Doodle: Doodle aims to solve the “when is a good time for everyone?” problem that plagues organizing any meeting with more than three or four people. Anyone can go to the Doodle home page and start a new poll with a title and description (like “Monthly meeting of the sheep-counting club”), and then pick a selection of potential dates and times. Doodle will generate a unique URL that presents a web form containing checkboxes for each possible appointment slot. Give the URL to each participant, and they can visit and check the boxes for the times that are good for them. Doodle will track which dates are optimal, though a simple look a the poll page and its red/green tracking makes it obvious who can attend when.

Wiki: For the ultimate open scheduling experience, you can follow in the footsteps of Amazon Web Evangelist Jeff Barr, who has been using a series of public wiki pages to schedule meetings during business trips. If you want to get on Jeff’s schedule, you just edit yourself in (and wait for an e-mail confirmation; he’s not that crazy). It sounds impossibly idealistic, but apparently it’s been working quite well for Jeff; the self-healing properties of wikis are well-known, and if you’re in a job that includes large amounts of customer touch time with tech-savvy customers this could be an interesting alternative to explore.

  1. I dun believe the web or internet will have all the answers for all our every problems. But to set up meeting… I would Create Goups for each project I work on, get everyone in one common chat room, e.g Basecamp. That way it’s idiot proof that we have a meeting this afternoon. :P

    Share
  2. iPolipo is designed to solve this problem. Multiple people can share their calendars and look up available time slots. It then syncs calendars and appointments to your desktop. It only works with Outlook on Windows, unfortunately.

    http://www.ipolipo.com/

    Share
  3. I’ve enjoyed using 30Boxes for this. I can just email a link to my public calendar, or to my calendar with items that are tagged in for only a specific thing. My schedule is much more loose that most, but it’s worked pretty well.

    Share
  4. [...] 3 Ways to Web-Enable Your Schedule: By putting your availability out there for all to see and making it possible for people to grab the times they want, you can implement a self-service approach to setting up meetings. Here are three ways to go about that. continue reading. [...]

    Share
  5. I use 30boxes as well and just hand out the public link or sow my events on my site.

    Share
  6. First, thanks to Adam for mentioning about iPolipo. The service is in public beta starting yesterday. So, it’s exciting for us over here.

    One quick thing. To use iPolipo, the person sharing the calendar needs Outlook. However, the person booking the meeting needs only a browser.

    http://www.ipolipo.com

    Best,
    Raj

    Share
  7. I use google calendar and dotproject and ajax IM, thats all I need.

    Share
  8. Let me suggest you try http://www.timetomeet.info which I’ve been successfully using to organise my meetings for about 4 months. It’s entirely browser based and you simply mark up on the Ajax calendar the slots you want to offer to meeting invitees. To assist you to identify free slots in your own calendar you can import your own calendar from ical services such as Airset or Google. Then, you simply email a link from within the application or within your own email service to the invitees. They log in and either select from any of the times you offered or specify times that suit them. The service works for multiple attendees and is incredibly easy to use. And yes, I’m a big fan of the service as it’s made organising meeting considerably easier and no, I’m not an investor or linked with the company.

    Share
  9. [...] (although that’s important too). Get out and about and hit the conference rooms hard. Try web-enabling your schedule to make sure those who want to meet with you get a chance to and to make multi-person meetings easy [...]

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post