Top Tech Tools for Associations

Image Credit: William Iven
Image Credit: William Iven

By Anna Morris, account associate

The Apple-invented adage “There’s an app for that” has never rung truer than in 2015 where there are apps, websites, and tools to assist any process or task imaginable. But sorting through all of the available “tech tools” out there can get just as overwhelming as managing your work day itself. To get you started, we polled our staff to pick their favorite tools that help in various areas of their day.

If you want to improve your organization, check out…

  • Basecamp – Working in association management often means you will have multiple clients with multiple upcoming events and multiple pressing deadlines. Multiply the multiples and you are left with a lot of to-do items to keep track of! Basecamp is a great project management tool that lets you create different “project buckets,” each with its own set of categories and to-do items with attached deadlines. Managers can create items and assign them to specific team members. Team members can comment on existing to-do items to ask questions or mark them as completed. You can even choose to view your outstanding action items for all projects at one—or just focus in on a specific section. This tool is a must-have for staying organized on a daily basis.
  • Google Calendar – Many other calendar tools and apps exist, but the tried-and-true Google Calendar platform is still one of our favorites. It allows you to make multiple calendars—each color-coded differently—and share each calendar with specified people. If you work with multiple clients, having one calendar for each client and adding the appropriate team members is a great way to keep people in the loop without cluttering their calendars with events that don’t apply to them. Add in the fact that Google Calendar seamlessly integrates with most smartphone calendars and you’re good to go. Think you’re a G-Cal pro? Check out these tips for more ways to maximize your calendar efficiency.

If you want to enhance team collaboration, use…

  • Dropbox – Dropbox became known as a tool to easily create shared folders and allow users to access large files from multiple computers. Recently, however, Dropbox changed the game by adding the Dropbox Badge that lets users edit Microsoft Office documents without leaving the Dropbox platform. This way, instead of having to download a file, edit it, and re-upload it, team members will always have access to the most recent version of a file and can see if someone on their team is currently editing it. This is a great resource for committee work projects.
  • Google Docs – Google has integrated their document-editing platform with Google Drive to let you store, share, and edit documents all from the same place. While these capabilities are similar to those of Dropbox, one of Google’s coolest features is Google Forms—with Forms you can quickly create easy-to-format surveys and have results automatically collected in a spreadsheet. This tool is great for quick surveys like collecting t-shirt sizes for conference attendees or collecting updated credentials for their name badges, where organizing the results is important but it would be too time consuming to set up a survey on a more extensive platform. If you are new to Google Docs, check out Google’s support page here for some handy overviews.

If you pull your hair out while scheduling meetings, try…

  • Meeting Wizard – Have you ever tried to schedule a board meeting with 20 people and tried to keep track of the best time in your head as multiple responses and conflicts come pouring in? Meeting Wizard eliminates the need for that mental strain by providing an interface for you to propose times, review responses, and then confirm the appointment with all attendees. Check out the Quick Start tool to take the stress out of planning your next meeting.

If all of your social media accounts are making you crazy, check out…

  • HootSuite – HootSuite lets you combine your social media profiles including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ into one place. The free version allows for just 3 accounts, but the Pro subscription includes 50 social profiles for $9.99/month which should cover the needs of at least 10 association clients, meaning you could budget it in for just $1 per month per client. There are countless documented benefits to integrating social media into your marketing plan—here are 10—and employing a quality tool to help keep track of the various platforms is a great way to keep your head on straight.
  • TweetDeck – TweetDeck is similar to HootSuite but focuses just on Twitter, as the name implies. You can create columns for different handles, hashtags, or trending topics in order to stay on top of the approximately 500 million Tweets sent per day. This tool is especially useful on-site at a conference, where you can keep track of your event hashtag and respond to various threads of conversation in different columns.

If your daily work could use a design makeover, use…

  • Canva – Many design experts swear by Photoshop with its multitude of features and edit options, but it has a steep learning curve and the interface can be overwhelming for the casual user. Alternatively, Canva is a user-friendly tool that offers a platform to quickly design and export eye-catching graphics for things like social media posts or membership newsletters. It also hosts a Design School with tutorials to actually walk you through design fundamentals. If you’ve ever been super impressed by the branding of a conference or social media site, this is your chance to produce something equally impressive on your own. (Hint: The graphic for this post was made with Canva!)

If you want help keeping sight of the bigger picture, check out…

  • Grid Diary – Grid Diary is “the simplest way to get started with keeping a diary,” and overall is a user-friendly interface for keeping track of the little things throughout your day or week. With prompts for entering time with family, friends, and exercise in addition to work accomplishments, it’s a great way to remind us of the things we do outside of the work day to help make sure we are balancing our schedules appropriately. Unlike many of the other tech tools we have listed, Grid Diary is exclusively a smartphone app, so if you keep your phone nearby you will have easy access to keeping track of progress big or small throughout the day.

Those are our top tips for maximizing efficiency and productivity every day! What are you favorite tech tools we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Want to know more about association management? Contact us to find out more about what IMI Association Executives can do for your organization.

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