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Summary:

In today’s world of home-based businesses, geographically dispersed business operations, outsourced services and worldwide marketing activities, scheduling meetings can become a bit of a nightmare. It’s also a world of many calendar programs (Outlook, MS Exchange, Google Calendar, LotusLive (Notes), iCal and Entourage) and diverse platforms […]

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In today’s world of home-based businesses, geographically dispersed business operations, outsourced services and worldwide marketing activities, scheduling meetings can become a bit of a nightmare. It’s also a world of many calendar programs (Outlook, MS Exchange, Google Calendar, LotusLive (Notes), iCal and Entourage) and diverse platforms (Windows, Mac, smartphones). Scheduling a meeting by email exchange can be a tedious and lengthy process at the best of times. Launching today, Tungle aims to make meeting scheduling a much simpler process for all parties.

Initially released two years ago as an Outlook plug-in, the Tungle team used the alpha and beta versions of the platform as a market research tool, as much as a test of the platform itself. Key findings included:

  • it takes too many emails/phone calls to coordinate one meeting
  • participants are dispersed around the globe and across different time zones
  • 60% of meetings are with participants from outside the meeting coordinator’s company
  • 75% of meetings are one-to-one
  • 95% of meetings have four or fewer participants

At the same time they uncovered user interface issues that are addressed in this launch release:

  • users want to be able to use their favorite calendar, productivity or social networking tool, not just Outlook
  • invitees should not be required to register with the service in order to respond to a meeting request
  • invitees require context-related help to guide them through the scheduling process
  • users wanted privacy options for calendar sharing: full details, busy/away status or no sharing

No longer a plug-in, Tungle is now a hosted web service and works with all the common web browsers (including Google Chrome); no download is required. On your initial sign up you are asked to sync your calendar and contacts from whatever program you use (Tungle works with Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple iCal and Entourage for Mac) . You are also asked whether you want to share your calendar, with per-contact privacy controls.

You can then enter the Tungle interface and start the process of scheduling a meeting. Once a meeting is scheduled it is automatically entered into each participant’s calendar.tungleui_homewithsharing500px1

Tungle has added some features in this release to make for a better user experience, including:

  • “Expert” and “Wizard”  modes for meeting scheduling
  • context-sensitive “bubbles” that provide additional guidance to new users responding to a meeting invitation
  • time-zone adjustment for each participant’s geographical location
  • use of Google Maps to find meeting locations (for example, a convenient Starbucks) from within the “Location” field
  • BlackBerry, iPhone and other smartphone compatibility
  • a “Meet With Me” mode, where clicking on a button embedded in a web site or email link immediately takes the visitor into Tungle to schedule a meeting

One of the most interesting things Tungle learned through the beta testing period was that the tool actually makes meetings happen earlier, especially when three or more participants are involved. Using Tungle, the decision on a meeting time is accelerated, because a meeting that may have taken two or three days to schedule with multiple email exchanges can now be set up within a few hours.

I have used the beta version of Tungle to schedule meetings successfully several times over the past few months. Occasionally there have been user interface issues where participants did not understand how to act on the invitation email, but these concerns have all been addressed in this launch release.

Going forward, Tungle plans to incorporate the service into social networking platforms as well as collaboration and conferencing tools such as Webex and GoToMeeting.

Tungle is a free service with plans to offer a “premium” service later this year.

What meeting scheduling tools do you use and why?

  1. Mark Patterson Tuesday, April 21, 2009

    Hi Jim, I actually do use Tungle and that’s because of the sheer simplicity. Mostly I’m booking calls, which I can do in just one email with Tungle, and it even sorts out the whole time zone thing for me. What I like best is that once a call is booked, it goes right into my calendar, so I really don’t have to do anything beyond sending that one email.

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  6. [...] free access to the current feature set moving forward. There aren’t any ads, and while Jim Courtney points to future integration with WebEx or GoToMeeting there don’t seem to be many really compelling pieces to hold in [...]

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  7. [...] own Jim Courtney recently reviewed Tungle, another tool to ease the pain of  scheduling meetings. I’ve yet to find one that really [...]

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  8. [...] Tuesday Tungle was launched to the general public; at the time I published a Web Worker Daily post: Tungle: Schedule Meetings “Your Way” where I covered in some detail the various business and user experience issues the Tungle team had [...]

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  9. Great article Jim, I looked at Tungle and compared them to everyone else in the market. I settled on Setster because they provide all of these basic services plus have integration with the Webs largest payment portals, invoicing with Freshbooks and Book-Keeping services with Intuit’s QuickBooks. Setster is more of a rounded solution for professional service providers.

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  10. [...] Tungle works well with Gmail and Google Calendar and makes scheduling meetings much easier by allowing people from different companies to see available times (see our previous review here). [...]

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