Scheduling is one of those mundane administrative tasks that no one wants to do; however, failure to develop a systematic way to record important dates and milestones can ruin the best laid plans. A master calendar should include important dates, be automated, and include a tickler system to notify people about upcoming dates. In order to create a master calendar effectively it must be intuitive, efficient, and have well-written procedures for all users.
Designate one person to hold accountability for maintenance and back-up. This person should be responsible for reviewing and entering key dates on the calendar before distribution.
Enter final dates and deadlines. Final dates are perhaps the most important reason to create and maintain a communal master calendar. These dates should stand out and be entered in bold face, colored or all caps.
Work with professionals and support staff to determine the tickler dates prior to deadline. This is dependent of the activity and organization. For instance, you may want to provide a reminder one week prior to a major budgets meeting. However, a group happy hour may only require a reminder one hour before the event. You also will want to build in time for travel if the event is not in the immediate office.
Determine a process for informing users of changes. This can be a formal or informal process. However, it should be clearly outlined in procedures. You also will need to provide a way to confirm the change. This could be a quick email with a confirmation request to all staff or meeting attendees.
Provide an option to include follow-up dates. Follow-up dates are dates which come up as a result of another meeting. That is, they are attached to an original meeting. An example would be an AR (action required) for finance to complete prior to the next meeting. Being able to attach follow-up dates to the original meeting is a good way to automate the process and bring more efficiency to the next meeting or event.
Print out the master calendar on both a daily and weekly basis and distribute. This is optional depending on the organization.
Place the calendar in a central location. This can be online, in a shared file or on a shared bulletin board.
Working as a full-time freelance writer/editor for the past two years, Bradley James Bryant has over 1500 publications on eHow, LIVESTRONG.com and other sites. She has worked for JPMorganChase, SunTrust Investment Bank, Intel Corporation and Harvard University. Bryant has a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from Florida A&M University.