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J TAP

JISC Technology Applications Programme

Electronic Diaries: How they are used, advice for implementation and a review of products
Barry Brown Tom Crawshaw University of Surrey

Report: 20

J ISC Technology Applications Programme


J oint Information Systems Committee

April 1998

Electronic Diaries: How they are used, advice for implementation and a review of products
Barry Brown Tom Crawshaw University of Surrey

The JISC Technology Applications Programme is an initiative of the Joint Information Systems Committee of the Higher Education Funding Councils. For more information contact: Tom Franklin JTAP Programme Manager Computer Building University of Manchester Manchester M13 9PL email: t.franklin@manchester.ac.uk URL: http://www.jtap.ac.uk/

Table of Contents
Executive Summary............................................................................................................................ i 1. Introduction to diary systems .................................................................................................... 1 1.1 What are electronic diaries? ................................................................................................. 1 1.2 What can an electronic diary be used for? ........................................................................... 1 Keeping a diary ......................................................................................................................... 1 Sharing a diary .......................................................................................................................... 2 Viewing free times .................................................................................................................... 2 Booking meetings electronically............................................................................................... 3 Room and resource booking ..................................................................................................... 3 2. Experience from organisations using diary systems ................................................................. 3 3. Experience from the University of Surrey ................................................................................ 4 3.1 Overview and methodology ................................................................................................. 4 3.2 Diary Users at Surrey ........................................................................................................... 5 High Level Management........................................................................................................... 5 Secretaries ................................................................................................................................. 6 Non-academic staff ................................................................................................................... 6 Academic staff .......................................................................................................................... 7 3.3 Lessons Learnt from Surrey ................................................................................................. 7 Training and conventions of use ............................................................................................... 7 Diaries need not be implemented organisation wide to be useful ............................................. 8 Secretaries and managers are the key users of diaries............................................................... 8 Planning a diary implementation............................................................................................... 9 3.4 Questionnaire results ............................................................................................................ 9 4. Product Reviews ..................................................................................................................... 10 4.1 Outlook98........................................................................................................................... 11 4.2 Netscape Calendar.............................................................................................................. 15 4.3 GoldMine 4.0 ..................................................................................................................... 18 4.4 Lotus Notes ........................................................................................................................ 21 4.5 Luigi ................................................................................................................................... 21 4.7 Review Summary ............................................................................................................... 21 5. Conclusion .............................................................................................................................. 23 Appendix A: Questionnaire results.................................................................................................. 24 Appendix B: Useful diary websites (as of April 1998) ................................................................... 25

Abstract
This report discusses the use of electronic diaries at the University of Surrey, along with reviewing the most popular systems currently on the market. Interviews were conducted with fifteen staff members involved with electronic diaries, a selection of users, administrators, and management. This gives an overview of how electronic diaries can be used within a university, and potential problems to be overcome in installation. The results from a questionnaire demonstrate the utility of diary systems even if only a selection of staff use the system. Reviews of four different systems on the market demonstrate that while there is no perfect system, Microsofts Outlook 98 is by far the best client for Windows machines. Outlook can also be accessed by Mac and UNIX users through a web browser.

Keywords
Electronic Diaries, Implementation, Product Review, Study of Use

Executive Summary Electronic diaries are used to keep and share diaries on computers at Surrey. Interviews with users shows them to be highly useful and popular. The main beneficiaries of diaries are heavy users of traditional paper diaries, such as managers, heads of departments, professors and their secretaries. At the very least diaries can save a typical user twenty minutes per week. Additional efficiency savings come from the ability to share diaries with secretaries, to see times when staff are busy, and to better manage time and activities. "Peer pressure" will encourage people to use diaries, so long as managers support electronic diary use, the application is easily available and proper training and support is provided. It is important to provide training so as to teach the correct "conventions of diary use". Electronic diaries need not be rolled out organisation wide to be useful since most meetings are arranged between individuals in the same department or group. There is no perfect diary system. Microsoft Outlook is the best system for windows based machines, with other users accessing their schedules through Outlook's "web access" features.

1.

Introduction to diary systems

1.1 What are electronic diaries? Electronic Diaries are a way of keeping a copy of a diary on a computer. This allows the user to browse their appointments, and mark appointments on electronic diary pages. Since the computer holds the details of each appointment users can be reminded in advance of meetings and appointments. The use of computers also introduces flexibility into the format of diaries, presenting different views, such as by year, month or week. Unlike a paper diary, the computer automatically adds new pages when needed, extra room for each day, and retains copies of diaries for years gone past. While this is useful, the most important advantage of an electronic diary over a paper one is in its ability to be shared. Unlike a paper diary, which is bound to one place, staff can access an electronic diary over a computer network, checking to see when other staff are free. Moreover, staff can share a diary, allowing a secretary to run a managers diary, while still allowing the manager access over the computer network. Electronic diaries held on desktop computers, then, make booking meetings much easier. An electronic diaries allows meetings times to be found, arranged, and confirmed, all from the computer, saving time and bother. While these features are useful, an electronic diary does add some complications. Electronic diaries that are held on desktop computers are not as portable as paper diaries. This has led some companies to develop a range of portable personal organisers the Palm Pilot, Psion and Timex Data Link watch being three of the most popular. These are small portable computers that attempt to provide the functionality of a Filofax in electronic form. While useful, these computers are still perhaps something of a novelty. While diaries held in personal organisers are more portable, they cannot be shared over the network. Compatibility between portable organisers and computer diary packages may dramatically increase the usefulness of using electronic, rather than paper, diaries. 1.2 What can an electronic diary be used for? There are four key uses of electronic diaries: Keeping a diary As mentioned above, an electronic diary lets the user keep track of their appointments in an electronic form. The key advantage here is that the diary can be viewed in many different formats by day or by year, for example. Although a user may put

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information in to the diary on a day by day basis, they can then view their commitments by year when wanting to book holidays, or plan overtime. There is no need to have a separate year planner. In addition, since each diary page is held on the computer, there are none of the space restrictions of small paper diaries. Reminders can be set up so that the computer can alert you before an appointment. Electronic diaries can also be loaded onto personal organisers such as the Pilot and the Psion, so that they can be changed when on the road, and then loaded back onto the desktop machine. Alternatively, diary pages can be printed out and carried around in paper form. Electronic diary programs also allow one to keep track of tasks outstanding with an electronic to-do list. This varies in its complexity, but can useful for time management and balancing different tasks. An electronic diary can help one to be more conscientious about time management. Since the diary is visible by others, it is important that it is kept up to date and correct. Sharing a diary The second usage that electronic diaries offer is the ability to share diaries between other diary users. Since the diary is always on-line, there is never the case of a diary being lost, or being taken away in a briefcase. The diary can be accessed from any computer on the network, so there is no need (in theory) to keep multiple paper copies of the diary. A professor can access their diary, as could their administrator on the other side of campus. Some diary systems can even be accessed across the Internet, making it possible to access the diary from home, with a suitable Internet connection. The ability to share diaries reduces much of the administrative overhead of managing a diary. Secretaries can book meetings without having to notify the manager since they will be able to see it on-line in the diary. For managers, there is also more independence, they can book meetings without having to check with their secretary first. Electronic diaries therefore particularly benefit high level management, such as vice chancellors or professors, who live from their diary. For these high level users it is important that their day is run as efficiently as possible, something which a shared electronic diary can only help. Privacy can be a concern for many users, who might not want their diary to be browsable. Therefore, diaries can be set up with different "permissions" so that other staff can only see the time you are free, rather than the details of your appointments. This protection can be set up on a user by user basis. Viewing free times While these features help in the management of time, electronic diaries also help in booking meetings. Since diaries are on-line, it is possible to view the details of other Electronic Diaries Page 2

staff members free time. This way, it is possible to quickly suggest suitable meeting times. The usual way this is done is by picking a list of meeting participants, and the computer displaying the time where all the participants are free. Again, this is a particular benefit for secretaries and upper management who have very busy diaries. However, it is also useful for other staff in that it can cut down the amount of time spent trying to find suitable meeting slots. Booking meetings electronically Bringing these features together, most systems allow staff to book meetings completely automatically. That is, using the diary to find a free time, and using the system to send invitations to the meeting's attendees. Most systems send these invitations through electronic mail. Microsoft Outlook, which is particularly well integrated into email, even provides buttons on the receivers email asking them if they want to accept or reject that meeting time if an attendee accepts then the meeting is automatically put into their diary. Room and resource booking Another feature is the managing of shared resources, such as laptops or meeting rooms. These resources can be set up in the diary system just as a normal user would be. Staff book 'meetings' with the room or resource, in the normal way they would book it with a person. The computer then manages the booking of resources and prevents double bookings, or problems with allocation. Resources can also be set up so that a secretary can administer that particular resource, using the diary to control which bookings are accepted.

2.

Experience from organisations using diary systems

Two of the best studies of electronic diaries have been conducted by Jonathan Grudin at the University of California 1 . In these he reviewed both the reasons why electronic

Grudin, J. (1989). Why groupware applications fail: problems in design and evaluation. Office: technology and people 4(3): p245-264 and Grudin, J. and L. Palen (1995). "Why Groupware Succeeds: Discretion or Mandate?" in Proceedings of the ECSCW'95. Stockholm, Kluwer Academic Publishers: p263-278. Available on the internet at http://www.ics.uci.edu/~grudin/Papers/ECSCW95/ECSCW.html. Also of interest is Grudin, J. (1988) "Perils and pitfalls", BYTE magazine, December, p261-264

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diaries fail, and the reasons why they succeed, studying a range of organisations including Microsoft and Sun Microsystems. Grudin points out that in many situations electronic diary systems, while available, are not used. An electronic diary installation can easily fail. Grudin concludes that diaries fail when there is a disparity between those who do the work and those who get the benefit. This is what happens when there are only a few electronic diary users. Each new user of the electronic diary has to put effort into keeping their diary up to date, for the benefit of the few users using the system. However, once a "critical mass" is achieved then the benefits come to be more equally distributed. When this critical mass is reached, peer pressure will encourage those who do not use the system to fall into line. Those who use the electronic diary will encourage the staff they book meetings with to use the system, spreading the use of the diary through the organisation. Grudin points out that this "critical mass" need not be across the organisation - if a group who meet frequently all use electronic diaries then this is a "critical mass" in itself. This is backed up by the results from Surrey, discussed below. With a critical mass in a given department or group, pressure on recalcitrant users can build up from every direction - managers, secretaries and peers.

3.

Experience from the University of Surrey

3.1 Overview and methodology Electronic diaries have been used at the University of Surrey for over three years, providing an ideal site to investigate how electronic diaries can be used in an academic environment. There are around 2,500 members of staff at Surrey and over 8,500 students based at a campus site in Guildford, Surrey. While Surrey is moving towards a unified IT support structure, IT support has previously been divided into two different departments. This prevented the university standardising on a single system, resulting in a situation where three different systems are being used simultaneously: Schedule+ (about 300 users), Meeting Maker (about 50) and Now up to date (5). Apart from Now-Up-To-Date all the systems are used within the administration, rather than the academic departments. To obtain an overview of the use of electronic diaries at Surrey, fifteen diary users from throughout the University were interviewed. 11 of these users were on Schedule+, 3 on Meeting Maker and 1 on Now-Up-To-Date. Interviewees were asked to talk about their experiences with the diary systems, and eight users were asked to complete a questionnaire on how often they used the system and what sort of meetings they booked. Interview transcripts and interview notes were used to Electronic Diaries Page 4

produce an overview of the different sorts of diary users, how they used the system, and how to encourage staff to use diary systems. The questionnaire data was then used to produce tables describing what sort of meetings were booked into the system, how they were booked, and how many were booked each week. This is detailed below, along with a rough costing of how much time the electronic diary system saved. 3.2 Diary Users at Surrey To give an overview of how diaries are used at Surrey four types of key user were identified: higher management/academics, secretaries, non-academic management staff and academic staff. These different groups have different needs, use diaries in different ways, and thus need to be targeted in different ways to encourage electronic diary usage. High Level Management Vice chancellors, heads of departments, heads of organisational units and professors all run their work very tightly from their diary. These staff members are the key beneficiaries of an electronic diary system. Any improvement in their diary efficiency is of real tangible benefit. While a saving of 5 or 10 minutes a day would be negligible for most staff, it can be a substantial benefit to a vice chancellor . To these staff, the main benefit in using an electronic diary comes from being able to co-ordinate the diary with their secretary. Rather than the cumbersome arrangement of having two or three paper diaries, everything is kept on the computer. This means that a manager can access their schedule anywhere they have access to the Internet, and a secretary can quickly see when the manager arranges new meetings. The electronic diary, then, works as a tool for co-ordination between secretary and manager. The electronic permissions on the diary are set so that only the secretary and the manager can book meetings, allowing the secretary to control who has access to the manager, and at what time. As staff pointed out to me, managers can have their day fully booked months in advance, so time for meetings has to be 'negotiated' with the secretary. For this, the automatic meeting booking is useless. Since managers also travel considerably, features to print out their diary are important, as is connectivity with hand held personal organisers. Advanced users may request laptops and associated support. Unfortunately, while these people can gain the most benefit from electronic diary systems, they are also the hardest to encourage to use electronic diaries. It is impossible for any management pressure to be put on them, and often they can be quite 'technophobic'. Accordingly, it is essential to plan for one-on-one intensive Electronic Diaries Page 5

training for both managers and their secretaries, along with emphasising the advantages of an electronic system. Management staff who were interviewed said that they were initially very sceptical about electronic diaries, but when they started to use them they were quickly convinced. As one manager put it: "I never thought I would use an electronic diary, but I was convinced within a week and threw the paper diaries away." Secretaries Secretaries are a second major beneficiary of the move to electronic diaries. Much of a secretary's day is taken up with negotiating meeting times, a cumbersome job if there is large attendance list. In this case, electronic diaries come into their own, especially if the people attending the meeting have busy diaries themselves, since time when all staff are free can be found automatically. This ability to share an up-todate diary also means that there is less chance of double bookings. The secretary does not need to keep on checking with their boss to confirm particular meetings. If the manager is away for a length of time, he or she is still in contact with their secretary, through the diary, and is aware of any change to appointments. The diary can also be used as a resource for finding where a manager is, by accessing the diary it is possible to easily see where a particular manager is, and when they will be in or out of the office. Since secretaries are one of the heaviest users of the diary system, it is important to focus attention on convincing them of the utility of the system. Again, there must be a focus on training and support. At Surrey, the secretaries were one of the key elements in convincing other staff to use the system. For a secretary, someone not using the system could be a considerable inconvenience. Accordingly they would exert pressure on those who did not use the system, encouraging them to give the diary system a try. Non-academic staff While universities are often thought of in terms of their academic staff, nonacademic, administrative and managerial staff are just as important. These staff are often more office based than academics, allowing them to maximise the advantages of using a diary system. While not using diaries as heavily as secretaries or managers, the staff I spoke to could have as many as ten or eleven meetings each week, so there were still advantages to using an electronic diary. Some staff also found that the routine of entering their time into the electronic diary helped them with time management. Scheduling all their activities into the diary, forced them to manage their time in a more efficient way. Staff also found the ability to look back in

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their diary a great advantage. Since the electronic diary kept records of all their meetings, they could use it as a record of when they met people, using the search facilities to look back and find the exact dates of previous meetings. Academic staff Academic staff are potentially the hardest users to encourage to use electronic diaries. Often junior research or teaching staff do not use a diary heavily enough to gain much advantage from using an electronic system. In addition, since academics often work away from their computer (unlike office staff) keeping an electronic diary up to date can be an inconvenience. This is exacerbated by the fact that academic staff pride their own independence, and are likely to resist being forced to use a system by senior staff. All staff can also be resistant to new technology, and unwilling to attend training classes and this may be particularly true of academics who may have less immediate IT needs and, therefore, spend less time using computers. This is not to mean that academics cannot find electronic diaries useful. Particularly for those academics with busy diaries or with secretaries who keep diaries for them, the same advantages as for high-level management apply. Professors and heads of department who run busy diaries can benefit greatly from the advantages that electronic diaries can bestow. Academics who closely manage their time would also be likely to find an electronic diary useful. The routine of keeping a diary can help in time management. Amongst university staff, however, it appears that academics are the hardest to encourage to use an electronic diary, since their time tends to be constrained by what is in their diary less than is true for other staff. 3.3 Lessons Learnt from Surrey After giving an overview of the different sorts of staff members in the University, and how they can benefit from an electronic diary, we can now move on to the lessons learnt from the use of diaries at Surrey. This information comes from the interviews that were conducted with those who had managed the implementation of diary systems, along with the experiences of diary users. After discussing three main lessons from Surrey, the results of the questionnaire which staff were given will be discussed. Training and conventions of use Staff emphasised that to encourage diary use it is important that the correct training is provided. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, training can help to overcome hesitancy in learning a new computer system, or problems with learning a new computer interface. Training gives a push to staff to start using the diary system, rather than it just appearing on their desktop. Training can be made mandatory, or at

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least encouraged by management. It is important to note that without training an electronic diary will not be used. It cannot be supplied to users and their use of the system taken for granted. Moreover, in using a diary system staff need to be aware of the correct way in which it is to be used. Since an electronic diary is publicly available over the network, there is a need to be more careful about the conventions of how an electronic diary is used. As an example, when booking a meeting that is in a different site, some distance away, it is necessary to book travel time around the meeting. Otherwise staff could book a meeting straight after the meeting on the different site, giving you no time to get back from the original meeting. Other conventions of use include keeping your diary up-to-date with holidays, and time when you are not free for meetings. This is good diary etiquette, without which staff may attempt to book meetings with you cannot attend. These conventions are fairly straightforward, and quickly learnt if the diary system is being used. By training staff in these conventions before they use the system any problems that might occur can be avoided. Diaries need not be implemented organisation wide to be useful Although the main use of a diary system comes from being able to book meetings with other staff, having the whole university, or even a whole department, on a diary system is not necessary before it is useful. This can be seen by looking at the meetings which Surreys staff booked using the diary system (Appendix one). Over half the meetings booked were with staff in their own group or department (52%). This means that even if a diary system is only installed in one department, it can help staff in half the meetings they book. Accordingly, encouraging particular departments or groups to use the diary system is the most effective way to overcome the need to obtain a "critical mass" of users. Secretaries and managers are the key users of diaries When targeting potential users who would benefit most from using diary systems, secretaries and managers should be at the top of the list. Secretaries take on the burden of booking most meetings, and thus have the most to benefit from sharing diaries with their managers. They can also play a key role in encouraging others to use the diary system, exerting pressure on laggards to encourage them to use the system. Convincing managers and other high-level staff has a dual purpose. Firstly, managers have the most to gain by improvement in the efficiency of how they book their time. Time is the most important resource for senior management, and anything that helps them to manage it better is likely to be popular. Secondly, management have the Electronic Diaries Page 8

power to exert pressure on those below them to get them to use the diary system. This can help to get a momentum behind using a diary system. Managers enforcing use of the system can help in gaining a critical mass of users. Planning a diary implementation While diary systems can be highly useful to staff in a University, their use requires a considerable change in the way staff work and manage their time. For this reason, getting electronic diaries to be widely used is more of a push than a pull operation. Implementation must be planned, with continual encouragement from different directions. Most importantly management must be convinced of the worth and value of electronic diaries. This is not only because managers themselves have much to gain from the use of an electronic diary, but that they can mandate or encourage usage amongst their staff. Secondly, training and support must be in place. Staff must be encouraged to "give diaries a go", and not to be intimidated by the effort involved in learning a new package. Again, encouragement from management can help, along with advertising and methods of increasing awareness. However, it is important to accept that the use of electronic diaries is something which will grow over time, as a "critical mass" is met, and staff encourage each other to use the system. It must also be accepted that not all staff will use an electronic diary, since many use a diary too infrequently for it to be worthwhile. This limits the scope of diary usage.

3.4 Questionnaire results Of the staff interviewed at Surrey, eight were also asked to complete a questionnaire describing the meetings they booked, and how they used the diary system. The results from this are listed in appendix A. These results give an indication of how meetings are booked at Surrey, and the levels of use of the diary system. Note, however, that since the sample size is small these figures should only be taken as an indication of how they diary system is used. Staff were asked questions on how they used the diary system, and then the diary was browsed to note the meetings which had been booked in the preceding two weeks. One result is that all the staff interviewed used the electronic diary system to some extent. Seven out of the eight staff interviewed used it for both keeping their diary, and booking meetings, with the other staff member using the system only to keep track of their diary. This is not to say that other types of diary were not used. Three of the staff interviewed still used paper systems as well as their electronic diary. Paper diaries were keep for members of management who refused to use the electronic system, and still preferred to get their diary in a paper form, or in the form Electronic Diaries Page 9

of a handheld paper "Filofax", for personal appointments. Four other members of staff also used an electronic personal-order system With regard to meetings, the majority of meetings booked were within departments or group. This underlines that diary systems can be useful even if they are only installed in a small group. Using average figures for attendees at meetings, and number of meetings booked electronically, around six appointments per person were made automatically rather than manually per week. At the very least this amounts to a saving of twenty minutes each week per diary user. However, as was mentioned in the interviews, additional time savings also came from the other features of electronic diaries, such as the ability to share diaries with secretaries, to see times when staff were busy, and to better manage time. Although the university uses two different diary systems, for most users this was not a major inconvenience. As mentioned above, staff tend to hold meetings with those in their own department, who at Surrey tended to use the same diary system. However, 2 secretaries spoke at some length about the inconvenience of having the mixed system and 7 of the 8 staff members interviewed though that standardising on one system would be of some benefit to their work.

4.

Product Reviews

After reviewing how the electronic diaries were used at Surrey, we move onto reviewing the different diary systems which are currently on the market. Electronic diary systems were reviewed to assess their suitability for use in a university environment. Microsoft Outlook, Netscape Calendar and Goldmine were reviewed in depth, and three other systems - Meeting Maker, Lotus Notes and Luigi, are briefly reviewed, but rejected because of their unsuitability for an university environment. The packages reviewed offer a wide range of different features, along with the basic scheduling functionality. Some applications describe themselves as "personal information managers", in that they hold a range of information such as addresses or past contacts. The range of facilities offered by each package has been considered, while keeping the meeting scheduling aspects of packages central to the reviews. Three applications were investigated in depth, and three are briefly reviewed. All of the systems reviewed can working over the Internet or internal networks using TCP/IP. The report concludes with a consideration of the comparative merits of the

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three electronic diary systems and assessment of their suitability for widespread use across the university. 4.1 Outlook98

Features Full e-mail facilities Personal calendaring Meeting organiser Address book Post-it style notes facility Daily to-do lists

Client compatibility DOS Windows 95 Windows3.x NT Mac OS

No Yes No Yes No

Server Windows NT only Retail price Offered as free upgrade to Outlook 97, Office 97 and Exchange users. Single licence price not fixed at present.

First impressions Installing and setting up the PC version of Outlook presented no problems. Outlook 98 requires that Internet Explorer 4 is also installed. This can be a time consuming installation, although IE4 is increasingly becoming an essential part of Microsoft Windows. When Microsoft Office 98 is released, Outlook 98 will become part of the standard install. On first impressions the use of Outlook 98 seems slick and the comprehensive help-system should ensure that users can start using the software soon after installation. The different functions supported by Outlook are clearly displayed

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down one side of the screen and the use of each of the modules is pretty straightforward. Outlook is, at a basic level, an e-mail package. The use of e-mail is integral to all components of the software; the contacts database takes the form of an e-mail address book with facilities for storing a wide range of information, the diary facility displays meetings arranged by e-mail and the daily to-do list module displays unread e-mail alongside information from the calendar feature. This means the package is well suited to those who plan to use Outlook for their electronic mail, but may be a problem for those who wish to use another mail client. Compatibility Outlook98 supports an impressive array of communication formats including, POP3, IMAP, LDAP, vCard, vCalendar Text formats and a range of import/export types including DOS, dBASE, Timex data link and all microsoft file formats. This should enable communication with most University software email systems and a growing number of other electronic diary systems. Microsoft do not supply information on compatibility with PDAs generally, or the popular Palm Pilot specifically however the range of formats should support most PC based platforms. The integration of the Vcalendar and Vcard communication protocols allows information to be distributed as email attachments or for download via the web. Vcard is a kind of electronic business card, holding information on users contact details and enables new users to be easily added to contact databases. Vcalendar communicates a range of calendaring and schedule information for importation into compatible PIMs and scheduling packages. Incorporation of these standards guarantees compatibility with other Vcalendar/Vcard compatible software. The POP3 functionality means that Outlook can be used in a standard university environment as both a mail client and a diary system. For the use of scheduling, however, the Outlook server will have to be installed. Cross-platform compatibility is less impressive. Microsoft do not provide a scheduling-aware Outlook client for either Mac or UNIX machines, the Macintosh "Outlook express" or "Outlook 95" clients having no diary component. In a university environment this could be a major handicap. However, Microsoft have recently unveiled "web access" for the Outlook server. This allows a web browser,

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such as Netscape or Internet Explorer, to be used to access mail or diaries held on the server. So long as a Java enable browser is used, nearly the complete functionality of Outlook is offered over the web. This is a lifeline to the other platforms, and works surprisingly well. While non-power PC Macs are not fast enough to run the JAVA code with enough speed, Power-PC and UNIX users can run Outlook diaries using Web-Access. One disadvantage of the web-based access is that Mac users cannot access their diary if they are off-line. If there are a large number of Mac "powerbook" users, this could be a major inconvenience. Web access is successfully used at the London School of Economics to provide access to outlook for Mac users.

Features E-mail Outlook is a well designed email client. The range of facilities on offer for organising messages add a degree of flexibility not offered by other packages. It is possible to automatically filter and sort incoming and outgoing message into different folders using content, sender or category. Facilities for searching messages allow the user to search headers, senders and the body of messages using a number of criteria. Outlook can also import address books, old mailfiles and server connection information from a range of existing mail packages including, Eudora, Outlook 97, Outlook express, Microsoft mail and Netscape. Diary Outlook has a calendar system which is presented in a paper diary format. The current date is displayed with half hour slots into which information can be typed. Other dates can be easily selected using a small calendar to one side of the screen. The diary facility also updates as meetings are arranged, displaying details of meeting agendas and those who have agreed to attend.

Meeting organisation The meeting organisation function within Outlook displays diaries of those required to attend meetings, indicating the times when each person is free. The format of this display allows diaries to be easily compared, although this may be more problematic in cases where several people (in excess of 15 or so) are expected to attend. There is also a facility for automatically selecting time slots when all those required to attend have free-space in their diaries, which may incorporate large meetings more easily. When a suitable time has been determined Outlook automatically notifies all attendees.

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The meeting organiser includes a facility for manually entering e-mail addresses for those not currently included in users address books, or on the server, and invitations can also be sent by fax. These features add a level of flexibility to the meetingplanning functionality of Outlook. The format of e-mail invitations to those requested to attend meetings is basic, with a message sent to each recipient along with buttons asking them to accept or reject the invitation. It is left to the person who organised the meeting to inform other recipients of those who have accepted invitations, although the scheduling of the meeting in the diary is updated automatically. Cost Outlook is supplied as part of the Microsoft Outlook suite and is thus available at a competitive price to academic institutions. Moreover, since Office is standard on many university machines, this makes the system effectively "free" for many users. Verdict Outlook98 is a versatile package which encompasses a range of personal management functions. This may be a drawback for those users who do not wish to use Outlook as a full Personal Information Manager, as the extra functionality gets in the way of the most important features. However, the meeting organisation aspect of Outlook98 is straightforward and operates in an intuitive manner. The procedures for scheduling meetings when all participants have free-diary slots, using pull-down menus, means that the time taken to arrange meetings is minimised. Drawbacks to Outlook include the reliance on Internet Explorer for connection to the Internet and the need to use a web browser to access Outlook for non-PC users.

Pros Ideal for paperless-office users Easy to use meeting-planner Integrated approach to time management Available as an upgrade to Outlook97 Robust, polished feel Integrated Mail Client Microsoft Product Cons May be too complex for casual e-mail users Need to use web-browser for Mac/PC users

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4.2

Netscape Calendar

Features Diary Meeting organiser Task list

Client compatibility DOS Windows 95 Windows3.x NT Mac OS

No Yes No Yes Yes

Server requirements Unix Retail price US$79, or as free upgrade to Netscape Communicator

Installation Installation of Netscape Calendar is incorporated within the new release of Netscape Communicator Professional. Installation of Netscape is straightforward, however the full Communicator suite must be installed to use Calendar, and is fairly resource hungry. To use Calendar to its full potential, Calendar Server is also required. It was unfeasible to obtain Calendar server for this review, however a number of existing reviews describe the use of Calendar in conjunction with the server software. The strength of Calendar when used in conjunction with the Calendar server is the number of users that can be supported. A network of Calendar Servers can support in excess of 100,000 users.

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First impressions Calendar revolves around a flexible diary system, whereby user-definable time slots can be displayed for daily, weekly or monthly periods. The use of the diary is straightforward at a basic level with a simple click and drag system used to designate time slots for particular tasks. Once times have been allotted it is easy to recall and update appointments. However, the on-board help system supplied with Calendar is difficult to navigate. This is problematic as the more advanced uses of calendar are sometimes confusing, indeed some basic tasks such as sending meeting invitations to individuals not included on the main server are complex.

Compatibility Calendar is compatible with a number of client platforms (Windows, Mac and Unix). In addition it will cooperate with most e-mail packages, though is reliant on Calendar server to mediate the communication between users. Integration with other elements of the Netscape professional suite is poor. Calendar runs independently of Navigator (Netscape's web browser) and messenger (Netscape's e-mail package). This proved frustrating as it is not possible to visit web-sites or check whether individuals had responded to messages from within Calendar, requiring the user to independently start and shut-down different packages. Calendar can also communicate with the HP palm top though does not support Palm Pilot or Timex datalink. Reliance on the Calendar server and the omission of standard Vcard and Vcalendar protocols seriously prejudices Calendars compatibility with other PIMS and scheduling applications.

Main features Diary The diary facility is central to calendar. The main display within the package is the diary page showing slots of time accompanied by a description of meetings/appointments. This facility appears basic and the integration with the meeting organisation aspect could be improved by further integrating the diary feature with the procedure for checking colleagues diaries and sending out meeting invitations. As it stands each of these features operates in a standalone way. Calendar cannot be used as a full Personal Information Manager (PIM) in the way that Outlook or Goldmine can, including a database of contact details, to do lists and comprehensive diarying. Without the ability to keep a range of information on contacts the package seems incomplete.

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Meeting organisation While the main focus of Calendar is as a tool for meeting organisation the lack of integration between its parts hinders the ease with which it does this. Different interfaces are used for filling in the diary, checking for colleagues availability, inviting participants and composing invitations. While it is possible to carry out each of these tasks using Calendar it is necessary to skip through a number of different screens to do so. Moreover, Calendar relies heavily on the use of the Calendar server for the list of contacts. This means that it is impossible to arrange meetings with users who use other electronic diary packages. Verdict At first glance Calendars strength seems to be its compatibility with a number of different platforms and the fact that it is not bound to Netscape products at the client end, in the way that Outlook is reliant on Microsoft packages. However, this freedom is short lived as all users need to communicate with the Calendar server. This is impossible if attendees include individuals working in a range of settings. Whereas Outlook is compatible with the emerging standards Vcalendar and vCard, enabling communication with a number of compliant PIMs and diarying systems, Calendar is not. Calendar is, however, a straightforward and simple package. While a criticism of Outlook is that it may be too involved for many users, Calendar is too isolated in terms of other elements of Netscape communicator and other time-organisation packages to be able to do even the simple task of booking meetings well. Pros Ability to handle up to 100,000 contacts Compatibility with a range of platforms/ e-mail applications Cons Lack of integration with other components of Netscape Communicator Reliance on Calendar server, rather than standard protocols, restricts use for arranging meetings with external contacts Poor help system and un-intuitive approach to arranging meetings Lack of integration with personal address books/information management packages

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4.3

GoldMine 4.0

Features Contact manager Diary E-mail post-it style notes facility Database design and management Meeting organiser Client compatibility DOS Windows 95 Windows3.x NT Mac OS Server requirements NT UNIX Retail price US$ 895 for five user network licence

Yes Yes No No No

Installation Goldmine is a complete personal information management suite. As such it is a heavyweight piece of software, using 25mb of hard disk space and putting demands on processor capability which mean that a fairly fast system is required to run smoothly (Pentium 133+). However, considering the size of the package, the installation presented no problems and Goldmine was up and running within ten minutes. First impressions Initial impression of Goldmine were of a well designed and robust feeling package. The array of task bars, buttons and pull down menus are organised in a logical way and soon become familiar. The in-package help system guides the user through most problems with relative ease and incorporates a comprehensive how to feature which gives step by step instructions for basic tasks.

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Compatibility The major downfall of Goldmine is its lack of compatibility with users of other diary systems, or those using Mac based operating systems. Goldmine relies on its own communication standard which limits communication with those who use different platforms to basic e-mail contact. There is a facility within Goldmine to use internet e-mail, however this feels like an after thought and is not developed to the point where group scheduling could be undertaken over the web. However, Goldmine is well adapted to those who use multiple PC based platforms, and particularly those who rely on portable data management tools. Goldmine can communicate with Palm Pilot, Psion and Sharp PDAs and the Timex Data Link. Main Features E-mail The E-mail part of the package felt slightly flimsy and it was impossible to import contact details from another mail package (Netscape mail), however product information assures that it is possible to use a range of other e-mail packages in addition to the in-package default (Eudora, Microsoft and Netscape packages). Diary The time management feature of Goldmine centres around the familiar calendar system incorporating half hour time slots. It was straightforward to enter details into slots and an added feature enables the user to assign contact details, e-mail messages and colour codings to each entry in the diary. This means that the diary feature can be used to co-ordinate the various parts of the package, acting as a springboard into email, the contacts database or the meeting organisation functions. Contact database The contact management aspect of Goldmine is particularly well developed and is obviously designed to operate with large company contact databases, incorporating advanced features such as SQL searches of other databases. Other nice features, but perhaps unnecessary for most users, include the ability to contact, and send text directly to pagers or faxes for database contacts. Meeting organisation Goldmines meeting organisation interface is straightforward enabling the user to choose message recipients from the contacts database, made up of either userdefinable contacts and/or details pulled of the Goldsync server. Goldmine seems to work well with large contact lists and searches can be performed on a number of

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criteria using the SQL search facility. This makes the package well-adapted for meeting organisation in large institutions, such as the University. There is also a function which allows users to define project groups and mailing lists for sending out agendas, minutes or notices of forthcoming meetings. Other useful features include facilities for scheduling recurring meetings, automatically sending notifications to those required to attend. There is a full function included with the package which allows the user to compare diaries of all members of a pre-defined group though, unfortunately, all users need to be using Goldmine as their diary package, relying on the use of Goldmines proprietary server Goldsync. As Goldmine is not compatible with Macintosh computers this restricts its use as a meeting organiser within a multi-platform institution, such as the University. Verdict Goldmine is a solid package with a range of well integrated features. It is designed to be used as a one-stop data management package and works well with large numbers of users. The meeting organisation aspect is less clear and intuitive than that employed by Outlook98. However, Goldmine incorporates a number of useful data management facilities (SQL searches, the ability to define project groups and recurrent meeting slots) which give it the edge over Outlook98. As standard protocols (Vcard and Vcalendar) are not supported, and there is a reliance on the Goldsync server, Goldmine is probably impractical as a university-wide diary system, though may prove useful for departmental groups with complex data-management requirements.

Pros Robust and well laid out users interface Good range of facilities, enabling users to carry out all management/electronic communication from within the one package. contact

Cons Lack of compatibility with other platforms and other diary systems

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Meeting organisation aspect does not feel central to the package Could be too top-heavy for many users

4.4 Lotus Notes Diary features are also part of the "Lotus Notes" groupware system. Lotus Notes is world-wide the leading messaging product, with over twenty million copies installed world-wide, offering groupware, email and scheduling features, all in one product. It is, however, a particularly complex system, and this (along with its cost) makes it impractical for use solely as a diary system. A copy of the "Lotus domino server" costs over $1000, and each client over $50, although this can be reduced with special deals. Notes is, however, cross platform and highly scallable. For those planning a new messaging infrastructure, or a move to the use of a groupware system, Notes is highly recommended. It is not practical , however, as just a diary system.

4.5 Luigi Luigi was planned to be the fourth in-depth system to be reviewed in this document. Unlike the other systems Luigi is based around the use of a centralised web server, on which all the diary information is held. This offers the advantage that custom software need not be installed, since all diary information is accessed through a web browser. However, this means that when "offline" using a portable computer, it is not possible to access your diary. Moreover, the reliability of the server on which Luigi is run is very low. We were unable to access Luigi sufficiently to provide a full review. Since reliability is the most important feature of a diary system, this effectively rules out the use of the Luigi system until this reliability can be corrected. 4.6 Meeting Maker Meeting Maker at first seemed to be an attractive option which potentially overcomes many of the compatibility problems which were the downfall of two of the other systems under review (Goldmine and Calendar). However, initial enquiries showed Meeting Maker to be unsuitable for use by large institutions. The meeting maker server can handle up to 250 clients, however problems with server performance and server maintenance have been reported from sites with over 1000 users, making it impractical for use in universities. 4.7 Review Summary

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The packages under review each centre around different aspects of information management, each offering a range of features and using different systems to organise data. Outlook has e-mail at its centre, Goldmine and Calendar rely on a paper-diary approach while Luigi and Meeting Maker revolve around meetings booked primarily acting as scheduling tools. The variation in type and focus of interface means that preferences for diarying systems may be, largely, a matter of individual taste, a factor which has led to the diversity of systems currently in use at the University. However, accepting this, there are key aspects which need to be addressed by any university-standard meeting organisation package, as discussed in the introduction to product reviews. Each package performed well in a number of the key areas (Calendar and Goldmine can deal with large contact lists, Meeting Maker can deal with cross-platform communication and Luigi is cheap and simple). Further to this, Goldmine may be useful on smaller scale project work where detailed information on contacts, project deadlines and e-mail tracking is desirable and Meeting Maker for small (less than 100) Mac-based project groups. However, the only package that performed well against all key criteria was Outlook 98, enabling users to organise meetings with large numbers of people, quickly and easily. In addition, Outlook98 is compatible with a range of e-mail protocols and platforms, though Mac users are less readily catered for. Because of problems with the ease that Mac users can communicate with Outlook98 it is probably best used in universities where no more than 40 percent of users operate from Macintosh computers. Where there is a predominance of Mac users Netscape Calendar or Meeting Maker should be considered as the proprietary scheduling package, dependant on the number of users supported. One criticism of Outlook 98, which may prove inconvenient, is its reliance on other Microsoft products (NT, Microsoft Office and Internet explorer). However, in the current software climate many staff will be currently using these packages and integration with alternative software is possible for those who do not use Microsoft products. The upside of integration with the Microsoft range of products means that Outlook98, or future similar Microsoft diarying packages, will be long-lived and changes will probably consist of simple upgrades rather than radical changes in software.

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5.

Conclusion

Electronic diaries are a useful part of the computing infrastructure at Surrey, and this suggests they would be useful in other Universities. The main beneficiaries of electronic diaries are those who use diaries most heavily - managers, heads of department, professors, and their secretaries. These individuals often "live from their diary", so any increase in the efficiency of how their diary is managed is likely to result in a tangible saving. Electronic diaries are particularly useful in how they allow a diary to be shared between a secretary and manager. This makes it easier to avoid missed appointments, or double bookings. When planning a successful diaries implementation, it is important to provide sufficient training and support. Unlike single-user applications staff need to follow "conventions of use", such as leaving time round appointments for travelling. Problems can be avoided by teaching "correct usage". The benefits of a diary system are such, however, that when a 'critical mass' of users has developed, then peer pressure will encourage other staff to try using the diary system. The advantages, in better time management and speed of booking meetings, is such that most users find that they prefer an electronic to a paper diary. However, it must be accepted that some staff will never use an electronic system, preferring to keep no diary at all, or a portable paper diary. In summary, electronic diaries are useful to staff and can be successfully implemented, so long a care is take over training, their implementation, and encouraging their use. The recommended application for use across the university, when considered against a number of key criteria, is Microsofts Outlook98.

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Appendix A: Questionnaire results Meetings held (Sample size of 36 meetings) Average (median) number of attendees per meeting Meetings booked electronically Meetings booked manually (but recorded in electronic diary)

4 19 (53%) 17 (47%)

Meetings including people outside university Meetings all in the university Meetings all in group or department

9 (25%) 8 (22%) 19 (52%)

Use of electronic diaries (Sample size of 8 interviewees) Staff who used electronic diary to keep and book meetings 7 (87%) Just to keep diary 1 (12%)

Only kept electronic diary Also kept paper diary also used portable electronic organiser

4 (50%) 3 (37%) 3 (37%)

Average (median) number of meetings per week

Would find whole university on one system VERY useful FAIRLY useful Don't care

4 (50%) 3 (37%) 1 (12%)

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Appendix B: Useful diary websites (as of April 1998) Review of different internet diary systems: http://www.cnet.com/Content/Reviews/Compare/Netpims/ Luigi web site: http://suilven.open.ac.uk:1709/ Download beta of Outlook 98: http://register.microsoft.com/REGWIZ/forms/form290.asp?WizID=277&f=290&f=3 90&f=419&f=639&CP=1&LP=0&FU=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Emicrosoft%2Eco m%2Fmsdownload%2Foutlook98%2Ftrial%2Fdownload%2Ehtm&CU=http%3A%2 F%2Fwww%2Emicrosoft%2Ecom%2Foutlook%2Foutlook%2Fbeta2%2Fdefault%2 Easp Download Netscape Calandar : http://home.netscape.com/comprod/server_central/product/calendar/index.html Grudin's electronic diary study: http://www.ics.uci.edu/~grudin/Papers/ECSCW95/ECSCW.html

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