I recently asked a group of my tech-wavy friends and clients what technology tool offered the biggest boost to their online productivity and below are the responses.
What’s been the best software tool or service that has boosted your productivity and how has it made a difference?
Our team adopted Evernote this year for document collaboration, and having local documents that synch be available on all my devices (laptop to desktop to iPhone) and with designated partners has been great for compressing project development times. (www.evernote.com)
Adding Dropbox for collaboration across multiple distant contributors and multiple desktops and laptops saves emails, calls and copying onto memory sticks!
We use Dropbox to share files among 9 people in multiple locations. We can choose to share a folder among everyone, or we can limit the sharing of particular folders to several people. There are some limitations, and the product is still evolving, but so far, so good.
Frederic M. Wilf, Managing Partner
Baer Crossey LLC
Tool: Office 365
We converted to Office 365 last year, great tool. Not only do we no longer need to maintain an Exchange server, our email is backed up and accessible from anywhere/anytime. It also includes Lync which is an instant messaging application that allows us to easily communicate with one another. We have also helped many other nonprofits move to this same platform.
A tool I have come to love is keepass2. It keeps all your login/password information in a securely encrypted database file. We live in a world where the black hats are trying to steal passwords–and succeeding–from various social networks and other sites. You need to use a different password for every site, especially those that have access to your money or critical information. And if you write them down on paper or in a plain text file, you might as well post them on Facebook.
Advantages of this tool:
• It keeps login id, password, URL, and notes for every entry.
• You only have to remember one password. (Make it a good one!)
• It works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and smart phones.
• You can sync the database file across those with DropBox.
• You don’t have to worry about having your life stolen.
• It uses strong encryption to protect your information.
The reason I chose keepass is that I run several Linux systems as well as Windows, Android, and iPhone. There is a Linux version of keepass available but not of 1password.
Imagine the loss of productivity you will suffer if someone steals your passwords and gets access to you bank, your investment sites, your confidential company data, your professional contacts, etc.
Tool: CloudOn service
In the continuance of great tablet apps, utilizing the CloudOn service, along with a file sharing utility like Dropbox, you now have the ability to use Microsoft Office products (e.g. Excel, Word) on the iPad relatively seamlessly…instead of importing into a generic editting tool (i.e. Documents on the Go), you can create, read, and/or edit with the real Microsoft product that still has a very wide range of functionality.
For me, this was yet another piece of the puzzle making a tablet an all-in-one business service/productivity tool.
Lon Burke, Director, Business Innovation and Integration
The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Snagit for capturing and editing images, video and text from websites. About $50 one-time purchase cost for basic version after 30-day free trial. No credit card required for free trial when I downloaded.
Jory Barrad, @Barrad
My project teams tend to be virtual and across geographies. We have begun using Podio (www.podio.com) for every day project collaboration and task management. It works across mobile devices, tablets and PC and has helped improve our productivity and confidence in people taking accountability for getting stuff done on time or escalating issues.
Because I often work in mixed systems, my other favorite tool is VirtualBox. I can run various flavors of Windows on my Linux box or vice versa. I can build a test environment where I can reset the hard drive to its initial state between every test. I can investigate potential virus emails or websites in a safe “boxed” environment that I can reset or throw away without risk of damage to my actual system. I can set up a Windows-based VPN (on a Linux box) to a company’s network while keeping it isolated from my local systems. Altogether a very useful tool.