Collaboration with clients is a high priority with VAs. There are a bevy of tools out there that we all talk about and try, some of them actually work for us! How do YOU evaluate a collaboration tool and decide to use it?
I like to look at what those in my AssistU community say about them by posting some queries in our forum. This eliminates some and puts others in the forefront to be investigated further.
I’ve done several posts regarding Google calendar’s 2-way calendar sync and Plaxo with its many features. This week, I’ve also looked into SyncMyCal, OggSync, ShareO and gSyncIt.
Although this may not be my last posting on this subject (there are always new tools coming out), here’s a synopsis of the pros and cons as I’ve experienced them. For the purposes of this posting, I evaluated these apps for two criteria: ability to update/add to/change calendar appointments and the same for contacts.
This is my hands-down winner. What it does:
- ability to add or remove appointments via a web log-in and they will show up in my client’s Outlook calendar. Note: the client has to have Plaxo for Windows installed for this to work (of course).
- same for contacts. I update/add/delete a contact and it will sync with Outlook. Tasks will also sync, but I haven’t figured out how to put them in categories as you can in Outlook.
- A big plus with Plaxo is that it offers ‘sync points’. That is, if you or your client has a Yahoo, Google or other mail account, Plaxo offers these sync points you can set up where your calendar and contact information can be synced with Plaxo. The thing that we need to remember is that it is only a 1-way sync. That is it will read changes only from Google to Plaxo. In addition, it only recognizes and updates if you add or delete a contact. If you open an existing contact in Google or Plaxo and change a phone number, it will not be changed in the other application.
- If you have others in your address book who also use Plaxo, you will automatically get updated contact information on them whenever they update their own contact information. Nice.
Plaxo also has the increasingly popular Pulse feature – another social networking tool to use. There are many other features that remind me of Facebook.
Since Google implemented their great 2-way calendar sync to use with Outlook, I can heartily recommend using this if you only need calendar syncing with Outlook (not contacts). What it does:
- Download the small program from Google and spend a few minutes getting the tool set up in your Outlook and you’re ready to go! Configure it to sync at intervals set by you and you can see the little icon working in your Outlook.
- It will sync only your primary Google calendar
- If you use Google calendar with Plaxo, you can add more than one calendar as a sync point (another plus for Plaxo)
- Contacts are not synced AT ALL. This means if you add a contact to your Google contacts, it will never appear in your Outlook contacts. You can do an initial export from Outlook and import your contacts into Google.
- Now, as you’ve already read above, if you use Google with Plaxo, you will have the 1-way syncing.
These next few I have never tried, so I really can’t review them, I’ll just give a little information based on my research.
Check out their website. They say calendars, contacts, tasks and the inbox can all be shared. This is not a free program. This program got very poor reviews on the AssistU forums, so I’m staying away from it.
This is a program that syncs your calendar between Google and Outlook. It will also sync them with your mobile device. It will sync multiple Google calendars (which Google doesn’t do). There is a free and a pro version. It looked harder to set up—you have to go deep into your Outlook settings to get it set up. I really don’t need the mobile syncing part, so I just wasn’t interested in this one.
gSyncIt – updated on 7-26-2010 after receiving a comment from Dave at gSyncIt
I am the author of gSyncit and find that the Lynn’s take on my product is unjustified. She fails to draw her own conclusion of my product and opts to take the viewpoint of a _single_ user experience failing to take into consideration that the user perhaps didn’t configure the product correctly!
I encourage any user looking for a powerful and inexpensive sync solution to check out gSyncit. For $15 you can sync calendars, contacts, notes, and tasks with Google and ultimately with most mobile devices.
Dave, I’m glad you took time to write about your product. I’ve spent a little time re-looking at your website http://www.daveswebsite.com and see you’ve had quite a few software upgrades since I wrote about it nearly 2 years ago.
Doing several searches, I only found good things being said about your software – 2 reviews are below as well as I see you have links to reviews right on your home page.
I’m glad your software is becoming more popular and I’m happy to post this update in my original column as well as here in the comment section.
This program looks very new and it says it syncs multiple Google calendars with Outlook AND it syncs the contacts as well. When something is that new and from a source I don’t know, I’m reticent to use it. One reviewer wrote in saying after he installed it, he lost everything on his calendar and instead got someone else’s appointments put in his calendar instead – sheesh!
Here is another program that will sync your Google to your Outlook calendar. There is a free lite version and a paid version. With the paid version, you will get 2-way contact syncing. SyncMyCal has been around for awhile and seems to have pretty good reviews.
To summarize – it seems to me that these last three programs really aren’t necessary with the advent of Google’s 2-way calendar sync unless you have multiple Google calendars you need to sync, or you need to keep your contacts synced between Outlook and Google.
Plaxo will sync calendars, contacts and tasks – all for free. There are premium features you can check out though.
For myself, using Plaxo in conjunction with Google calendar works pretty well for me. I realize there are other possibilities out there as well – feel free to share.