Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Presdo: Online Agenda Whiz for the Busy Diplomat

I once worked in an office where the secretary had no idea how to use the appointment option in Outlook, so setting up one meeting with the boss and a few other folks invariably generated a dozen or so email updates and cancellations in a span of a few hours, not to mention the migraines that came as bonus for the meeting participants trying to sort out which appointment is the correct one.

Given that experience, I was excited to discover Presdo, a quick online scheduler that easily works with the Outlook calendar (as well as Yahoo! Calendar, Google Calendar and Apple iCal). Since most FS users have Outlook loaded in their workstations, and Presdo is an accessible online tool for anyone with Internet connection, this has the potential of making your life easier when it comes to scheduling and tracking your busy schedule. I see particular value of this tool for FSOs who often have appointments and events after hours and during weekends, especially those overseas who do not have access to their Outlook calendars when they are out of the office. I’m looking at this as a weekend complement to Outlook, to ensure that whatever appointments you make outside of the normal workday can easily be integrated into your official appointment calendar at work without skipping a beat.

The company says that Presdo takes the hassle out of trying to find the best time to get together with people by minimizing the annoying ping pong of email, texting, and voicemail when organizing the next team lunch or when trying to grab coffee with a friend. And that’s true since this tool lets you propose one or more time when inviting your guests, making it easier to find the best time for everyone. So you start simply with “what” and with “whom” like -- “Meeting with John, OBC Saturday,” “Movie with Cindy Fri night,” “Coffee with Diplopundit next week” –see below. You can enter the email addresses of all the prospective attendees to your event and you can send the invitation with one click of a mouse (I would like to see an email address import functionality added here).

If you are in the US, you can use the map option, but I find that overseas it is easier to just enter the location for each appointment. A news update from the company did say that Presdo’s location features for those in Europe or Asia are working much better now, but I have not tried it after the new refinement.

Your invitees can accept your initial time, or they can pick from other times if the initial time is not good for them. Presdo keeps track of when everyone wants to get together. It shows you the other best times based on everyone’s input, and you decide if you should change the time of the event. Part of its beauty is you don’t have to switch screen to calendar or email, you can send the desired changes from the same window!

The two things I like best about Presdo are 1) simple, uncluttered interface and 2) it allows you to coordinate events with guests/attendees who are in other time zones. The time that you enter will be shown to them in their local time zone. For example, if you organize an event at 9am in the PST time zone with a guest in the EST time zone, your guest will see the time as 12pm. The same applies if you are a guest suggesting other times for an event. Any time that you enter is always based on the time zone setting of your computer, so you just have to make sure that your computer’s time zone setting has been set to the local time zone where you are and Presdo will do the rest. Neat, huh?

Presdo is founded by Eric Ly, who previously was a co-founder of LinkedIn and was its first chief technology officer. Tech Crunch reported that Ly wrote most of the code himself and bootsrapped the entire site with only $35,000 of his own money and was quoted as saying: “I left LinkedIn on a Friday, and started Presdo on Saturday.” Two years later - Presdo! In the company blog, Ly writes:

“Presdo was started not only to address a need that we all have but also to represent some important ideals about the way people build technology companies. All of us at Presdo use products we love and find indispensable. You and I probably agree on what many of these products are. The products that most excite us offer something refreshing while adding value to our lives. They make us feel good when we use them. When we began Presdo, we set for ourselves not a modest challenge: can we bring useful and interesting products to market that are even better than the best products we admire? And in doing so, can we build a profitable company that enables us to continue to create value for our customers? These are important goals for us.”

A grounded dreamer, what’s not to like? Let me know if this works for you! To read more, click here: http://www.presdo.com/help To sign up for a new account, click here: http://www.presdo.com/

To view a recent screencast on Presdo by Demogirl, click here.

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