It would be wonderful if our society board members all had the same operating system, applications and level of expertise. It would make collaboration so much easier. Something as simple as distributing an agenda for an upcoming meeting can be a challenge when it is created on the latest and greatest version of Word but most of the board are using much older versions or a different operating system.
Fortunately we now have several very impressive – and affordable – options. Not only do they make it easy for societies to work together online, they also provide a secure archive to store the information we need to keep. Two platforms immediately come to mind – Dropbox and Evernote. Here’s why . . .
- Both platforms support Windows and Mac desktops along with iOS and Android mobile devices.
- Both are affordable. An annual premium plan for Evernote is $70 and for Dropbox is $99. The society would purchase one account and the board/staff members share the society’s folders from their own accounts. If they don’t already have an account, they can sign up for a free account and use it.
- Both support including photos, PDF documents and links to support your society’s archive needs.
Things get really interesting when you use them for your collaborative efforts. Do you normally create a draft agenda document and email it to each board member to add their topics? How many times does it have to make the rounds before you have a functional agenda? With Evernote, you create a notebook and share it to your staff. When it’s time to build your agenda, create a new note and notify the others to come add their items. Everyone can access Evernote using the device and Evernote app of their choice. It will have the same look and feel, no matter what each member uses to view the agenda note.
Dropbox recently released Paper – a free app for Android and iOS devices. It serves as an editor within the Dropbox platform. Desktop users can access it through their web browsers. Inviting others to participate is easy. Just type @username (using each user’s actual username) and each will be notified that they were mentioned with a link to that document.
Which platform should you use? Whichever platform most of your staff are already using. Create a prime account for the society. Share the needed folder/notebook to the appropriate staff members. Users can work in the society account from their free account. The society creates shared folders/notebooks for meeting management and other collaborative needs and invites the appropriate board/staff members to participate.
Since these two platforms have become favorites in the genealogy world your staff may already be using one or both. Some members will need help getting started, but it won’t take long to introduce them and get them comfortable using it. Your biggest challenge will be changing the routine. Old habits are hard to break.