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19 March 2018

Streamlined Ecosystem of You

By Gordon McKeown

Refine your personal IT ecosystem for maximum professional effectiveness

You want to discover the right productivity tools for your work. There is so much choice and refinement available now such as, for example, all the apps you get with Office 365, Google Apps, Salesforce apps etc. There are countless granular apps you can get for just about any aspect of knowledge work. It can be confusing …

Your personal IT environment changes every few years.

Remember the 1980’s?

  • The Age of Monolithic Systems
  • Lots of manual processes
  • Rigid, bureaucratic processes that reflected the old world of paper and ink

Remember the 1990’s?

  • The Age of MS Windows
  • Not much else going on

  Remember the 2000’s

  • The Age of Mobile Data
  • Some real efficiencies achieved
  • But a lot of broken process and obsession with devices …
  • … at the expense of efficiency

  Remember the decade we’re just finishing?

  • The Age of SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud)
  • Apps for everything
  • BYOD
  • Flexible working (20 years ago, no-one would have believed the extent of home working we have today)
  • Integration in the Cloud
  • Great UX is the norm

Modern systems and security operations enable organisations to operate not just a BYOD policy, but also allow employees to use a vast range of vetted and approved cloud productivity tools. This decade is the age of baffling choice! This is the Age of SMAC++:

  • Frictionless apps
  • Collaboration
  • Smart agents
  • Choice
  • I use the apps that make me more effective; I avoid those that drag
  • My devices at work, at home, on the road
  • I configure and integrate my own IT ecosystem. This is the Age of Personalisation or, more simply, the Age of Me.

So, how then do you figure out which productivity apps you should be using?

It used to be that your IT department would make systems available to you and you had to use them. Now you are offered a menu. Sometimes literally: check out the bundle of productivity apps you get with Office365. Teams and Planner I understand. Not sure about Delve and Flow …

Here is a rule you can apply to identify the right productivity apps for you personally.

Golden Rule of App Utility

Experiment. From time to time, try introducing a new app into your workflow. Once you’ve been using it for a few days or weeks, ask whether makes your work:

Faster: you deliver your work or results on time or better

More solid / less flaky: e.g. you’re less forgetful and better informed

More collaborative: You bring colleagues with you.

High quality: On-time delivery, collaborative effort, fewer or no mistakes, baked through.

Easier: because of flexibility, better scoping, more precision and collaboration.

Leaner and more elegant: This is the art of brevity, so important in business communication. Don’t allow work like, for example, document review, to expand to fill the time available: choose apps and ways of collaborating and communicating that demolish busy work and time-wasting.

What do you use?

I'm interested to learn what your top productivity apps are. The ones you would fight to keep. If you have time, please leave a list in the comments box. Here’s my list:

Evernote: Simple notes. Capture all those snippets of intelligence. To-do lists. My Eisenhower Quadrant. And everything not include in the rest of this list.

Mindmapping Software: Scoping projects and developing ideas. Used it to organise the ideas in this blog.

Trello: Kanban. Casual collaboration. Progressing team sprints.

MS Project: Heavy lifting project management.

Office365: Outlook, Word, Excel, ppt. Been using ppt all my life but had neglected for at least a decade. But recently rediscovered the joy of it: the discipline of brevity. Word for important / formal documents (pre the design input); draft white papers and other collateral; commercial documents such as big sales proposals; etc.

PleaseReview: collaborative document authoring and review. Ideagen acquired PleaseReview last year and the app has since become indispensable to me. It solves the nightmare of managing tracked changes from multiple document reviewers; e.g. on a piece of collateral, a sales proposal, a regulatory submission, a contract or other legal document, etc etc. If you have more than 3 reviewers on a document, you need PleaseReview.

Read our latest whitepaper on the rise of focused collaboration in 2018.


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