10 Calendar And Schedule Management Tips For SMBs
SMBs face multiple challenges as they navigate growth and improve productivity, here are a few tips to help manage calendars and schedules!
A small or medium business is often a start-up or a boutique business that relies heavily on achieving the highest return from the least amount of resources. The companies are characterized by tight pockets and high goals particularly stressed upon by investors. In a scenario such as this, companies aim at achieving the maximum possible productivity within every minute of work done. Here are 10 tips to ensure your business is utilizing its highest potential :
Tip #1: Calendar app
Most organizations work on a business suite that includes a calendar application integrated with other applications such as email, contacts, notes, etc. This integrated application, thus, forms the basis of schedule planning for the teams. A simple trick to ensure all team members can coordinate schedules without a hitch is to make one calendar application the primary application for scheduling. It helps overcome incompatibilities and allows a single platform view of the employee's schedules.
On an individual level, calendar applications help users simplify scheduling through a host of features, one of which is color-coding. Classify broad topics that take up your time and assign colors to each while scheduling a chunk of your time for the said activity. This is often ignored but is a useful feature as it helps users glance through their schedules and get an idea of where they spend most of their time.
Tip #2: Scheduling app
A scheduling application such as Appointo, helps most small and medium-sized businesses manage client appointments through an easy-to-navigate platform. Businesses can automate appointment booking for customers by integrating Appointo's booking module into websites or applications. As Appointo captures all necessary client data required for booking an appointment, the company can assign supervision and management tasks related to appointments without adding additional resources to the team. Scheduling applications also help simplify appointment modifications, reminders, feedback collection, etc.
Tip #3: Integrations
The company's technology stack, if used in silos, is as effective as employees working in their departments without coordination. Integrations among applications help a smoother flow of information across business processes to identify, classify, analyze, and store data which in turn helps quicker and more accurate decision-making across departments. Integrating the calendar application, the scheduling application, mail servers, message, and chat applications, and other central software solutions ensure the flow of information that would help boost productivity in your business.
Tip #4: Time management technique
Time management is an age-old challenge with a ton of research by multiple experts available in the market. Every employee in the company has a style of working and is most productive following their unique system. It is thus, necessary that everyone find a unique solution to optimize their schedules. A blog published by the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences talks about 9 time management techniques that people can choose from to overcome scheduling challenges. It is best if the company helps employees explore and select the right time management technique through workshops, discussions, and announcements.
Tip #5: Meeting length
Meetings are the necessary evil that many companies, especially SMBs face. Since SMBs are growing businesses with more work and less staff, the management is perennially required to discuss the future and make strategic decisions while managing execution simultaneously. Let's take an example of the head of operations at a local chain of restaurants who aims to introduce innovative options on the menu while ensuring the day-to-day operations are smooth. The person would always be in and out of meetings trying to spearhead innovations in the business while also fighting fires on the ground since daily challenges keep cropping up as they tend to do. In such cases, determining the perfect meeting length helps manage the schedules of all participating employees. The meeting scheduler must ensure that the meeting duration is in line with the agenda of the meeting.
Tip #6 Buffer time
For many critical meetings and appointments in the schedule, the activity/event on the agenda warrants priority treatment. Whether it be an emergency or an annual strategy meet or even a new project launch, the schedule needs to be prepared taking into consideration all contingencies. This requires the scheduler to account for buffer time while blocking calendar slots for all participants. Buffer times help participants ensure that critical events are given the time and attention required to help businesses take correct and timely decisions.
Tip #7: Follow up meetings
Routine schedules, scrums, and project meet-ups are usually scheduled at frequently recurring intervals, although this is not true for most other activities. The meeting scheduler is required to not only maintain the notes of the meeting discussion but also to schedule follow-ups as and when necessary. A quick tip to stay on top of things is to schedule follow-ups when the participants are available or in the meeting itself rather than waiting after the meeting to match availabilities and send across meeting invites.
Tip #8: Notifications and reminders
The technologically advanced generation is now used to automated follow-ups, reminders, and notifications for every event in life. The scheduling plan loses value and importance if not followed up with a reminder or a notification. While most calendar applications have built-in notification triggers and automated reminder emails, so do scheduling applications such as Appointo. These reminder emails, messages, and push notifications can be customized to ensure all recipients receive them just in time for them to prepare and respond to the meeting. This ultimately helps reduce no-shows and last-minute cancellations leading to a better-managed schedule.
Tip #9: MoM email
Post every meeting, discussion, or event, the scheduler must send across curated minutes of the meeting. These are short lists that summarize the discussions that take place in the meeting as well as highlight the decisions and actions to be taken post the meetings. While MoMs were traditionally jotted down and sent across as lengthy emails, converting the content into to-do lists assigned to responsible individuals and updated with deadlines, reminders, and details of the task is a much more productive way to ensure the activity gets done. Many business software suites have built-in to-do applications if not many project management tools are available in the market to help you achieve the same results.
Tip #10: Advanced planning
While we speak about scheduling, we cannot overlook the time required to plan the scheduling. Most businesses see spikes in business at certain times in the year and plan activities according to these predictions. Scheduling activities require similar research, understanding, and predictions to be planned correctly and in time. This requires that the teams plan some time out - either annually or quarterly- to schedule the upcoming activities for the business. The scheduling participants must keep in mind the companies strategic goals, priorities, routine, and bandwidth when planning. As we all are aware - Well planned is half done!
As you embark on a journey to accomplish your dreams and overcome business challenges and reach greater heights, hopefully, some of these tips will prove helpful to optimize and grow your business. Small and medium businesses, as witnessed in the global pandemic, are the most vulnerable to unknown events and circumstances. It is thus, important that your company capitalize and improve at every level.
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