Calendars can do much more than ensure you're on time for meetings. They can be a central location for project and event materials and knowledge, inform best practices, even assist with corporate administration.
There are a lot of parallels between a company's file sharing and calendar sharing needs. They're both critical for any company bigger than one person, especially as business grows. And there's a lot more to good file or calendar sharing tools than just keeping information synced in one place.
Calendars help you do it all
Good calendar sharing keeps projects, events, meetings, and social occasions organized, in one place, and up to date. It enables flexible access for everyone who needs it, but access that is customizable depending on what people need to know or contribute. And it needs to seamlessly integrate with other tools, including those used outside of your organization.
A robust and flexible shared calendar application can also be a valuable administrative tool. For example, many companies require staff to request vacation or log sick days on separate, often convoluted network sites. With solutions that have a moderation function, like Igloo's Calendars, booking a day off is as simple as creating a calendar item, which your manager can then approve.
With RSVP functionality, flexible channel assignments, and colour-coding, you also get the ability to see at-a-glance who's at that trade show or out of office this week. Color-coding is extra useful when you're displaying several different calendar channels at once. Igloo Calendars' multiple views also help you peruse information from one or more calendars at the level of granularity you need, from various widget designs to full-page layout.
Calendars are the hub of business
Calendars can be more than just a place to record events. A smarter perspective is the calendar as a hub, the central repository for all the information about events, projects, meetings, etc. or series of those events. Not just when and where it will happen (with login info, etc.), but with links to relevant documents, from white papers to PowerPoint decks to videos. It's also the meeting place for all those involved in a given project or event, but provides for different needs and roles with editing and access flexibility.
Calendars are a valuable collection point for information after events, too. There's ensuring the aforementioned documentation is collected, but it's also a great place to gather feedback. Request ratings for the event from attendees (internal or external). Get more detailed input in comments. Develop a list of followup questions, like after a town hall meeting. Collect survey responses. Add related content to what was discussed in a meeting. This information is especially invaluable for series of events, as it enables teams to iterate and make the experience better every time.
When a calendar is not just a calendar
Igloo's intranet solution is modular, and designed for all apps to work together. So when you're in your calendar, file sharing, wikis, and other tools are right there for you as well. Thanks to related content links, you're not attaching static documents to calendar events, but linking to versions that you know are always the most up to date.
As important as it is for all of Igloo's apps to work together, it's also important for Calendars to play well with other tools. Outlook or Google Calendar might be in use in your organization, or for those with whom you need to book meetings or events. So Igloo provides integration with those services to ensure everyone is kept in the loop. And as with all of Igloo's apps, Calendars are as easy to read and use from your phone or tablet as from your desktop.
A handy way to prevent duplicating your efforts is to invite the relevant Igloo Calendar (each has its own email address) as an attendee to an event when creating it in Outlook or Gmail. That way the event gets created and automatically updated in all relevant calendars at once. It lowers the barrier to entry for individual comfortable with their existing tools, gradually integrating them into your social intranet.
Calendars can help facilitate conversations as well. People can post comments or questions about upcoming events, so no one's left scrambling minutes before a major client meeting, webinar, or article deadline. And as noted, all of an event's post-mortem content is kept together in one place.
People never stop being busy, and after one project is completed they quickly move on to the next. Gathering files and information during the project, and immediately after, is critical to retaining that knowledge for future use. If someone is tardy in getting their updates in, anis a quick and easy way to remind them. Calendar permission assignments are also flexible, so the team can discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly without external attendees or customers being privy to it.
Many company events recur, and projects evolve between status meetings. Fortunately, Igloo has plenty of ways to keep you up to date. You can follow calendars or specific events and customize notifications, so any time the information changes, you'll know. Never show up on Wednesday for Thursday's meeting with Monday's agenda.
Everyone hates a cryptic meeting invitation. We're not inclined to take time out of our busy day for Bob's minimalist "quick chat" meeting. Or we receive an invitation asking us to review materials beforehand... but we're given no indication of what they're called or where to find them. Igloo vanquishes the cryptic invitation, or at least makes it a no-brainer to include everything your attendees need to know.
When creating invitations you can add summaries, rich text descriptions (including images or video), and add attachments. (Outlook users won't get all of it, but will receive the summary, description text, and link to the calendar event which includes these resources) These features can both help ensure that only the people who need to be at the meeting are present, and help you work through the agenda faster and wrap things up, which makes everyone happier.
Many of us are so used to wrestling with corporate calendars that we don't think about how they could make our lives easier. But good calendar sharing is as critical - maybe more - than good file sharing for organizations as business grows. And including extensive and robust integration with other tools and systems, as well as social features, makes calendars truly a communications and collaboration hub for organizations.