If you need to keep your start-up costs down, or you want to collaborate with people who don’t share the same exchange server as you, you may be interested to know about Google Calendar.
It’s a very clever collaborative tool, with some really smart features, and it will also sync with your iPod Touch/iPhone and your Outlook.
I can view several Google calendars when I open the application on the internet, two of them are mine, the rest are owned by clients who have granted me access.
Access to Google Calendars
You can control how much access you grant to your calendar, you can allow people to just view your calendar, you can allow people to view and edit your calendar, or finally you can allow people to view, edit and edit permissions on your calendar. Edit permissions is where someone has the authority to share your calendar with others on your behalf.
So why would you want to share your calendar?
Does your team in the office need to know where you are each day? Do you need someone else to book appointments on your behalf? Would you like an email or text reminder of your appointment? Do you need to collaborate with a colleague on projects and need to be able to see what is happening? You could be out on the road or out with Clients and your partner at home can still update your diary for you.
How do I share my calendar?
In the top right of the screen you will see the word settings – click on this, then click on the tab that says calendars. Under the word sharing at the right of your calendar name you will see the phrase Share this Calendar, click on this and it now allows you to enter the email address of the person you are sharing the calendar with. In permission settings you choose how much access that person has. Choose the one that is right for your needs and then click on the “Add Person” button. Remember to save.
So Google will email me and SMS me?
One of the best features about Google Calendar for me is that I can set notifications. This can either be done as a default under the notifications tab of the settings menu, or you can select the notifications each time you make a calendar entry. You can choose from SMS, Pop Up and Email, and can set them in minutes, hours, days or weeks. I love this feature.
So how do I use Google Calendar?
I have a personal Google Calendar which I sync with my Outlook calendar, this is where I store birthdays, anniversaries etc and set reminders for one or two weeks before to remind me in time to buy and post presents.
I then have a business calendar where I record which Clients I am working for in each part of the day so it is more like a time planner for me.
I have several client calendars so that I can book appointments in for them without having to wait and see if they are free and calling people back, it makes it appear even more so that I am based in the clients office, and gives a more professional feel to the appointment booking process. I can set reminders for my clients so that they know a day or two in advance of the meeting, and enter notes in the appointment so that they know everything they need to know for the meeting.
It could be a reminder for a client to renew car insurance, car tax or even that one of their clients is having a birthday. It really depends on what the client needs from his calendar.
So how does Google sync?
If you want to sync your google calendar then just visit this page: http://www.google.com/support/calendar/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=89955
You will need to download some software but once it has been done it works seamlessly in the background.
I also downloaded a Google Calendar app for my iPod Touch which gives me access to all the calendars I can view on Google Calendar.
Won’t I get confused with more than one calendar?
Each calendar on Google has its own colour so it is very easy to use without getting confused, you can switch the calendars on or off selectively so you can view specific calendars or all the calendars.
So what is this going to cost?
This is the best part of all – Google Calendar is free to use. For larger businesses Google Apps provides a paid for solution for collaboration, but for a lot of small companies this is ideal.
Do have a look at Google
Calendar, it really is one of my favourite collaboration tools, and don’t
hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.