Productivity software

Top 5 Free Google Apps Add-ons For Work

3. TripIt Travel Organizer

Tracking the travel plans of colleagues can be a nightmare. Google Calendar lets employees share information about when they will be out of the office, but specific details of travel plans are often shared in hasty e-mails--if the individual even remembers to send one.

The TripIt Travel Organizer app integrates the functionality of the excellent TripIt Website with Google Apps. TripIt not only tracks travel arrangements, such as flights and hotels, but also links into practically every kind of social networking and e-mail service so the information can be shared.

Once installed, the Travel Organizer app can sweep your inbox automatically for travel confirmation e-mails sent from the likes of booking services, hotels, and airlines. It then automatically creates a travel plan on the TripIt Website, including calendar events, which are published to your organization's Google Calendar.

Upon first installing the app you'll be invited to create a TripIt group for your organization, to which any further users who install the app are automatically added. This allows everybody to monitor the travel arrangements of others via the TripIt Website. It even features a map showing the current location of staff member.

4. RapidTASK

Every business manager has to embrace project management, at some point but it's not an easy learning curve getting to grips with specialized software like Microsoft Project. The RapidTASK app makes life a little easier by building project management around a to-do list, and nearly all of us have mastered those. As you might expect, RapidTASK allows the sharing of to-do tasks among members of your domain, and you can assign tasks to colleagues.

Upon installation you'll need to setup RapidTASK to integrate with your Google Apps calendar, so the due dates of tasks are automatically added. If you want RapidTASK to send e-mails automatically to colleagues when tasks are assigned, this must also be configured.

To do so, start RapidTASK (like all apps, find it on the More menu at the top left on any Google Apps page), and then click the Settings link at the top right of the RapidTASK window. Click the Email Settings tab and put a check alongside Send Confirmations When You Create New Task via Email. Click the Save Changes button, and then click the Google Apps Integration tab and click the confirmation links next to Sent Task and Received Tasks.

To get the most from RapidTASK in an organization, each of your colleagues in the domain will need to install it and configure it as mentioned.

5. YouCanBook.Me

Designed for anybody whose work involves appointments with clients, YouCanBook.Me ties in with the Website of the same name and offers a page where anybody can click on a calendar date and time in order to book an appointment with you. Appointments then automatically appear on your Google Apps calendar, and you'll also receive an e-mail containing details of the dates and times.

You can also configure the service to e-mail or SMS your clients to both confirm appointments, and also remind them via e-mail or SMS of impending appointments as the time approaches.

It's simple and extremely easy to use for both your clients and yourself, although you will obviously have to ensure you pass on the booking link only to those you trust; the opportunity to mischievously book up all your calendar slots might be too much for some.

The calendar view people use to book appointments is a little primitive, but can be personalized--just click the YouCanBook.Me link under the More menu of any Google Apps page.

Keir Thomas has been writing about computing since the last century, and more recently has written several best-selling books. You can learn more about him at http://keirthomas.com.

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