Setting up a calendar for your business, team, or organization? Check out these 5 keys for choosing the right calendar software. It isn’t a matter of one-size-fits-all. Know what you need, how you will use the calendar, and which features matter; then you can make the best choice for your purposes.
With so many calendar software options, it’s a time-consuming process to sort through them all. You can spend hours comparing different calendars. Then you have to make a decision, and hope it’s the best one.
Here are some tips to help you sort through the calendar software available, and make a confident decision about which one will work best for your needs.
1. Focus on the right software for your needs.
The most popular or well-known calendar software may seem like the best choice. However, if it doesn’t fit your specific calendar needs, it won’t be the best choice for you.
The same is true for that great software or calendar app that your friend, spouse, family member, or colleague might recommend. Consider your own work preferences, the information you have to manage, and how you want to use the calendar.
Recommendations and reviews can be helpful, but in the end you are the one who is using the calendar. So choose one that feels good, makes sense, and works the way you need it to work.
2. Define the main purpose for your calendar.
This seems pretty easy, right? Calendar software is for managing a calendar (or schedule).
However, managing a calendar can mean many different things:
- Allowing multiple team members to add, modify, and work with the calendar for ongoing projects.
- Setting up appointments, schedules, and resources that clients can access (but not allowing them to change the calendar).
- Having employees input their availability/open hours, and scheduling shifts on a sub-calendar that all employees can view.
- Adding events, activities, and other opportunities to a community or group calendar that can be publicly viewed on a website or social site.
- Tracking information (such as deliveries, inventory, service records, etc.) on an organizational calendar that can be searched and used for reports and management.
- Managing the schedule for crew members, materials, equipment, etc., with variables such as weather conditions, site readiness, and other dependencies.
Take the time to define the main purpose for your calendar. Think about what you want to do, manage, and keep track of on the calendar. Think about who needs to access the calendar, and how you need to use data from the calendar.
3. Make a list of features you want in a calendar.
Most calendar softwares have a similar set of basic features. But more specific or advanced features can vary greatly. When comparing calendars, how do you know which features matter most to you, and which are not so important?
Start with knowing the purpose for your calendar. Once you know that, it’s easier to see which features are important and which are not.
For example, if you need multiple team members to access and use the calendar, then security is important. You need features (such as access permission levels) which make it easy for you to keep your calendar secure while allowing employees to do what they need to do.
On the other hand, perhaps you want to use your calendar to share and promote events to the public or to large groups. In that case, look for calendar features that make it easy to keep all the event information in one place and share events easily in multiple ways.
Try writing a list of the calendar features you need. If you have more than 5 features, then sort them according to priority. Think about the must-have features versus the nice-to-have features: this distinction can help you choose the calendar that will work best for you. You can see an overview of Teamup’s features here.
4. Look for real (calendar) user experiences.
Can you find real stories of how people are using a particular calendar software? If so, these real user stories are a great way to determine several important things about a calendar:
- Is the calendar flexible enough to work in different ways for different needs?
- Do the calendar features work well/as expected for people using the calendar?
- Are there any hidden quirks or surprises that come up with regular use?
- Is there clear documentation and an active support team when users need help working with the calendar?
5. Think through a daily work scenario.
Setting up a calendar can be a complex and intimidating job.
Instead of thinking about how you would set up the whole calendar, think through a simple, normal work scenario. What’s something that you handle in a normal day? How would you translate that management or task or scheduling to the calendar you’re considering?
If you can clearly see how a common scenario would work, try another. Go through a few common tasks or management needs and consider these elements:
- Who needs to input this information on the calendar?
- Who needs to see or access this information?
- What format does the information come in? (Files to upload, text to enter, map locations, time stamps, notes, etc.)
- How long does this information remain important?
- How secure does this information need to be?
Final tips for choosing calendar software
As you explore the options in calendar software, remember that there is no perfect software. But there is a calendar that can work well for you.
To choose the calendar that’s a best fit, consider these questions:
- What can you be flexible about?
- What can you not be flexible about?
- Which features matter most?
- Which features are not important?
- How will you use the calendar most (laptop/mobile/both)?
- Who needs to use the calendar, and how will they use it most?
- Will this calendar work for me in most of my work scenarios and needs?
The more you can understand and clarify your own needs, the easier it is to see which calendar option will meet them best.