Online Centres Foundation’s Funding and Partnerships Manager Ben Brown tracks down all sorts of interesting organisations and pots of funding. He often found co-ordinating meetings and other people's diaries tricky, but with the help of Doodle it’s now a doddle!
Why did you look for this tool in the first place? What did you need help with?
I often need to find a time in the diary so I can gather a number of people together for a face-to-face meeting, phone call, conference call, Webinar or a Google Hangout. Trying to coordinate people’s diaries, especially when they work for different organisations, is always a challenge!
How did you find out about the tool?
Through recommendation. Two people on the same day happened to mention Doodle, so I thought I would check it out in a few spare moments during my lunch hour. I’m glad I did!
What is this tool for?
Two key things: Making the free time in your calendar visible to the outside world so they can see when you’re available to take a call or attend an appointment. Which is brilliant because it saves all those ‘can you let me know when you’re free?’ emails.
It also have a neat ‘polling’ feature. This allows you to set up a simple questionnaire asking ‘which of these time periods can you make?’. It collects all the options under one view - without the email ping pong - so you can easily decide on the time that suits everybody.
What do you use it for?
Scheduling meetings, booking appointments and telling people inside and outside the organisation when I am available.
Why has this tool been useful to you?
I like this tool because it frees up time from unnecessary enquiries. It also reduces the amount of administrative email you get when you’re trying to fix up multi-attendee events or meetings. It’s so simple to use!
What have been the benefits of using this tool to you?
It’s saved me time and hassle. It means I am ‘always there’ because anyone can check my availability 24/7 (which is quite important in my job). It’s an elegant solution to a niggly problem, especially if you need to coordinate lots of diaries for meetings and calls.
Is there any cost attached to using this tool?
No, it’s completely FREE!
Are there any online tutorials available?
Yes, there are some introductory videos and help files - but once you have seen the simplicity of the website you’ll realise that you won’t need them, although it is reassuring to know they are there.
How long did it take you to set it up?
Less than five minutes.
Are there any limitations to using this tool?
I haven’t discovered anything yet. I like the fact that it hides the detail of the appointments you already have, so that bit stays private. Maybe one limitation is that work colleagues can’t see the detail either, but then again they have access to my work calendar anyway so that isn’t a problem for me.
Do you have any top tips for using this tool?
Publicise your Doodle account within your email signature. That way, anyone that gets an email from you can click straight into your Doodle calendar to see your availability right away. Make sure that you keep your calendar updated - the service is only as good as the information it’S been given.
Do you have any other recommendations of tools that could help you do something similar?
This is my first use of a scheduler tool like this - but I don’t think I will to try another. It does exactly what it said it would.
Are there any other online tools that you have used that you would recommend and why?
I really like Google Forms and Survey Monkey for producing simple questionnaires.
If you want to create your own social networking site, I can recommend Ning - www.ning.com - you do need to pay for it, but it’s not that expensive and you can get up and running really quickly. I use it for my work with social housing providers - you are welcome to sign up and check it out for yourself: www.digitalhousinghub.ning.com