I’m Susan Kistler, AEA’s Executive Director, and the author of each Saturday’s aea365 Tip. One challenge we have in the AEA office, that is echoed across those working with groups in almost any context, is scheduling meetings (or scheduling focus groups or scheduling planning sessions, etc). Challenges include: (1) when we did this by hand with a spreadsheet, even the most diligent made mistakes; (2) it was time consuming and involved a lot of hand-entry, and correction and checking on time zones; and (3) potential attendees varied considerably in terms of the times that they would give (some giving only their convenient times, other giving all possible times including those that would require some wiggling around to make work).
We went in search of a software solution and found a number of time scheduling products on the market. After trying out three, we settled on one that has been a godsend.
Rad Resource: When is Good is a web-based tool that allows you to identify possible times for a meeting across multiple dates, and then send a link to your attendees so that they may choose which times are best. Attendees can click through and identify their available times in their own time zones. So far, these functionalities are common across multiple products and When Is Good does them very nicely in their free version with no signup fees and no registration needed. If you register, you can then create a dashboard where you can manage multiple scheduling events at once, all still free. Thus, the free version solved challenges #1 and #2 from above and was incredibly useful. However, what really made it stand out, for our office, was that when you pay for the premium version, at 5 pounds a year (about US$6.50), your attendees can choose those times that are best, ok, or possible but not ideal. This addressed challenge #3 and has greatly increased the range of times that our colleagues indicate availability, increasing the likelihood that we can identify a common time even across a large group.
Rad Resource: XE.com is an easy to use currency converter site. When Is Good is developed by a family-run software company in the UK (we’ve corresponded with the very nice developer to ask a question or two). Their payment options are all in pounds. Wanting to be sure that we were clear about the extent of our investment, XE allowed for a quick check-in and confirmation that we could, indeed, afford $6.50 for a year of When Is Good.
The above opinions are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of AEA.