Three free tech tools every board needs

The free tools below are easy-to-use time-savers that might make managing your division easier, freeing your time to focus on the initiatives that mean the most to you

By Chad Rummel

Does a simple task like scheduling a time for a conference call drive you crazy? Twenty emails later, and you’ve finally found a time for four people to meet. I doubt many division leaders were elected or appointed to their positions so they could spend time on scheduling conference calls, right? 

The tools below are easy-to-use time-savers that might make managing your division easier, freeing your time to focus on the initiatives that mean the most to you. Most importantly, all these tools are FREE (some offer paid upgrades, but they are not necessary to utilize the tool). 

  1. Dropbox
    The motto for dropbox says it all: “Your files, anywhere.” This is an absolute MUST for any group trying to manage files between individuals who are not on the same computer network. No need to email files back and forth (creating several copies of the same document with different updates). In addition, you can access it from any place you have internet access (work, home, a meeting, etc). Each folder in your “dropbox” can be shared individually, so not everyone has access to everything, unless you grant them access. Another nice feature of dropbox is that you can install it on your desktop and access files as if they were really stored there, via the internet by logging in, or on your smartphone.
     
    One note of advice: You are allowed limited storage on your dropbox, and the idea is that you will purchase more. However, for each person you “invite” to use dropbox who installs it, you earn more storage space. It is possible for one person to easily accumulate enough space to manage all your division’s files. 

  2. Doodle Poll or WhenIsGood
    These sites replace the torture and hundreds of emails that happen when you try to schedule meetings or conference calls. No account is required; you simply enter the dates and times that are options and send out the link. Individuals who have the link enter their name and click the dates that work for them. Additional options are available for upgrading and integrating into your calendar, but I have personally never used them. 

  3. Free Conferencing: Telephone, Webinars, etc. 
    The days of long distance charges are quickly fading, and so should paying for a conference call. If you are willing to have your attendees pay the long-distance charges (or not, if their phone plan provides free long distance), this service is easy to use. With a name and an email, you can have your own conference call number that you can use anytime (no need to schedule ahead of time). In addition, the company also offers free screen-sharing accounts, which works much the same—you give attendees a Web address to look at and you control what they see. When combined, you can easily have access to a free Webinar system. Similar services for online screen sharing include Twiddla and JoinMe.