Calendar management software has moved in a couple different directions in the last few years, and the crowded field is filled with solutions that offer a wide range of benefits and features. The list below is a partial list that I put together top help you navigate the field. To make it on the list, multiple calendars must be a feature and the ability to share or publish those calendars to others was a must.
As with most things, you get what you pay for, but within the price ranges from free to thousands per month, there are definite best in class selections, as listed below.
Google Calendar, Airset, Cozi, Timebridge, Tungle and Yahoo Calendar mostly work on the principle that you can get a limited functionality for free (users will generally see ads on the screen when managing their calenders) with the option to purchase premium services for additional monthly or annual fees.
- Google Calendar and Yahoo Calendar are very similar and connected to Google or Yahoo email accounts (or other email addresses). They can be very easy to set up. Multiple calendars are formatted nicely, and the intuitive web based interface makes learning and using the system a snap. It is possible to invite any number of users to be able to view your calendar(s) and vice versa.
- Cozi is unique in that its business model makes it both a very strong option for families who are looking for calendar coordination, but a fairly inflexible model for anyone else. It is built around the idea that each member of a family will have their own calendar (or more than one) and that sharing is going on between family members. If this describes your need, then Cozi is definitely the best pick (and at the best price!).
- Airset is a very specific option that will likely not be satisfying at the free service level. Airset is built around a web hosting model: if your organization needs web hosting services then the calendar is a nice feature, but you’ll pay for the web hosting (most likely), for any usage beyond a small web presence with low traffic levels.
- Timebridge and Tungle are not really calendar sharing software, but they both solve the calendar coordination problem in different (and elegant) ways. If you want to see multiple calendars, simply for the purpose of scheduling a meeting, then Timebridge or Tungle offer simple solutions. Timebridge provides additional meeting planning functionality, while Tungle has ease of use advantages for the singular purpose of meeting scheduling.
All of these free solutions offer some kind of calendar sharing between individuals, but they do not allow the establishment of groups of individuals that share certain resources in common. Work groups, sports leagues or volunteer organizations could use these solutions, but people involved in multiple groups could quickly develop a long list of calendars that could become unwieldy. This issue is addressed in different ways by the group sharing solutions listed below.
Group Sharing Solutions
Microsoft Outlook, CalendarWiz and ClearSync all offer solutions which make calendar sharing among groups possible. Unlike the previous free services, which will provide limited setup help and service & support, the following products all have customer service departments, which allows you to speak with a knowledgeable person who can help you become productive with the service.
- Microsoft Outlook: If you are looking for an enterprise solution, you probably are already familiar with Outlook Exchange. Intermedia , among others, has excellent user support and can host your email & calendar sharing from a few hundred dollars to a many thousands of dollars per year, depending on the organization size.
- CalendarWiz: CalendarWiz is focused on web-published calendars, and has nicely designed and powerfully flexible options to arrange your web-published event data in a variety of pleasing formats. If you are a large organization, or are running a large calendar system (e.g. for a community center, performance complex, etc.) then this solution will be something you want to look at.
- ClearSync: ClearSync includes the widest possible feature set for calendar sharing: you can not only share between individuals, but also between nested or overlapping groups. ClearSync’s user interface is not as smooth as some of the aforementioned web based calendars, but its feature set includes flexibility not found in the other services. The ClearSync service includes both native applications (where the data is stored locally on the computer running the software) and server driven web applications, so that your data is available even without Internet access. Even at the highest level of paid service, which includes unlimited phone support, ClearSync represents a bargain to the small office, business, church or non-profit.
This table offers a side by side comparison of the previously summarized services.
How do you currently manage multiple calendars? Do you still use a combination of paper and software based solutions? How important is mobile access to your team? We wan to hear from you, please take some time and let us know what you think in the comments below.
|Written on 1/12/2010 by Elmer Thomas. Elmer Thomas blogs primarily at Thinking Serious which focuses on programming, design, business and productivity content for tech entrepreneurs living in a 2.0 world. That is, when he is not tickling his entrepreneur itch or consulting.||Photo Credit: rox sm|