Have you ever experienced a daily frustration, knowing in your gut that there must be a better way, but not actively looked for a solution? Then, out of the blue, a solution falls into your lap, and you can practically hear the chorus of “Hallejuah”? You get that warm and fuzzy feeling that the problem is going to go away, and life will be that much simpler from here on out?
That’s how I felt when an email arrived in my inbox that, among other things, invited me to schedule a meeting with this gentleman using a service called Tungle.me.
I spend a good portion of my time at work meeting with people from outside my company. They’re coming from companies all over the world, making scheduling these meetings (phone calls, usually) difficult. Frequently, this means email exchanges between me and the person I’m trying to meet with, each of us offering up available dates and times, doing time zone conversions to make sure that we don’t have our wires crossed, and spending nearly as much time trying to lock down WHEN the meeting will occur as we do having the meeting itself.
I’m also working around the meetings scheduled within my company, where we use a Microsoft Exchange server to manage our calendars. Keeping everything in sync, from my iCal desktop software to my iPhone to my iPad, is always a bit of a challenge. It always seems so seamless, and 95% of the time, everything works as expected… but those times when scheduling goes awry, hoo-boy, it can really screw up your day, or even your week.
Tungle.me is a free personal scheduling application that makes scheduling meetings easy – across companies, calendar systems and time zones – by automatically preventing double bookings, adjusting for time zones and eliminating the endless back and forth emailing of finding a time to meet.
Tungle.me is not a new company bursting on the scene. They’ve been in business since 2006, they’ve secured two rounds of venture funding, and they launched the service in 2008. Apparently they generated quite the buzz at SXSW this year, and they’re not the only application in this space.
But they’re new to me, and I’m eagerly looking forward to using their service for making my life that little bit easier. In theory, at least. I only signed up for it late Friday afternoon. I’ll have to give it some time to see if Tungle.me’s actual value for me lives up to the promise.
Tungle.me’s introduction video had me hooked within the first 20 seconds. “No double bookings, no time zone mishaps, no more email ping pong.” I particularly love the term “email ping pong”, terrifically apropos.
All of the demonstration with Gmail and Google Calendar had me a bit concerned, but those concerns were alleviated soon enough when I saw that there were integrations with iCal, in addition to MS Outlook.
In my case, since Exchange is the source of truth for my meetings, there are couple of hoops that I’ll have to jump through, but nothing unreasonable. The workflow is as follows:
- Download and install the Tungle Mac Connector, which can talk to both iCal and Microsoft Entourage
- I configured the Mac Connector to sync with my MobileMe calendar and my Exchange calendar. Downside with Exchange is that it’s a read-only option – Tungle can read the Exchange calendar within iCal, but not write back to it. That’s going to be a bit of a hurdle for me, see #4 for why.
- My calendar entries sync over to my Tungle.me account, and now the world can see my availability at http://tungle.me/jnassi.
- If I accept meetings through Tungle.me, they’ll come into my MobileMe calendar, and then I’ll have to manually move them over to Exchange in order for my co-workers to see that I’m not available at those times.
- All-day events in Exchange don’t show up in Tungle.me, so I need to create a 12:00am – 11:59pm meeting in Exchange in order to block out the time in Tungle.me. Another minor hassle when marking down travel, company holidays or personal days.
We’ll see how it works out when the rubber hits the road this week, and I use Tungle.me to schedule some upcoming meetings with 3rd parties. I’m optimistic!
Icing On The Cake
About three hours after signing up for Tungle.me, I received an email from Marc Gingras, the CEO of the company, welcoming me to the service. His email introduced himself, as well as introduced the head of their support, copied on the email. Marc’s email not only included his own Tungle account but also his mobile telephone number.
How many CEOs do that?
Talk about Social CRM, engaging with the customer on their terms.
Talk about being open.
That’s impressive. Kudos to you, Marc.