February 21, 2013

Tech Tools We Use Everyday

Recently, I've had several conversations with heads of Episcopal organizations in which they discussed their efforts to work more efficiently through technology. Because of these conversations, I thought I would create a short list of the tech tools that we use everyday at the Episcopal Church Foundation. While this is by no means an exhaustive or expert list, I hope this will encourage folks to share the tools you are using, review your tools, and consider other options. 


More and more, ECF uses Skype to conduct one-on-one video meetings and even conference calls. We use Skype for internal meetings when we are working with off-site employees, and also for meetings with folks from around the Episcopal Church. Being able to see the person you are speaking to is a remarkable improvement over voice-only conversations. Recently, ECF purchased an annual “Group Skype” account for approximately $60 per year allowing us to hold video conference calls with up to 10 people. Click here for Skype’s website.


A free service, this has taken much of the hassle out of scheduling meetings with multiple people. As Brendon Hunter notes in this blog post, “Doodle helps take some of the leg work out of compiling availability, which can get particularly complex for meetings with multiple options of dates and times. Most importantly, using Doodle saves everyone from having to start from scratch when there needs to be a change.” Click here for Doodle’s website.


In many ways, this project management software is at the heart of how ECF’s Leadership Resources area manages to do all that we do. While this is a more significant investment (the basic plan is $24 per month), by using this tool effectively we are able to line out key milestone dates, create to-do lists associated with each date, and assign these tasks to members of our team. While it takes some time and patience to get accustomed to, the end result is one project calendar for an entire team and an easy way to see the key tasks you’re supposed to be doing week by week. Click here for Basecamp’s website.

Google Calendar

Google Calendars allow you easily create a work calendar and then share it with key members of your team. Doing so takes away the difficulty of knowing when the other members are or aren’t available, and you can easily create invitations to schedule meetings. Again, this is a significant time saver for our team. The one caveat: you and your teammates will need to have Gmail accounts.Click here to learn more about Google Calendars.

As I mentioned, this is by no means an exhaustive or expert list, but it begins to describe the free - or minimal cost - tools that we are using to do our work more efficiently. I’d love to hear what you’re using as well!