Office 365 – OneNote: From phone to collaboration bliss

I’m not one who usually geeks out on new tech as it seems to me most ‘advances’ are minor mods that aren’t all that exciting or do me any good. I do like to tinker with different tech to see if it will help speed up development or collaboration with my team. You never know when you’ll come across something that helps.

We employ the Office 365 suite at work, though not as thoroughly as I believe we could. Given that, I take any opportunity to make use of it. From SharePoint online for organizing  important documents, schedules and other resources for my team to the new ‘Planner’ software recently rolled out for task tracking. One really neat benefit in O365 that I found is the cloud aspect of connecting data and applications easily.

Scenario: Multi-team collaboration on a whiteboard.

Typically, we would work something out on the whiteboard and either hand write the notes, type it out or take pictures. Afterwards, go back to our desks and email around with our notes and try to sync them up. Usually, we can agree on the output. If there are any pictures taken, they have to be emailed or downloaded from a cloud backup….Lots of extra steps.

NOW: Office 365 and OneNote

This definitely speeds things up and reduces any questions as to accuracy.

I downloaded the OneNote app for my Android phone (I believe there are versions for other platforms as well) and logged into my O365 account for work. I created a new page to work with (fig 1).

1note_1 Fig. 1: creating a new OneNote Section.

Once in the section, you can see the new section and how it relates to any other notes you have.

1note_31note_2

In the upload example section, click on the camera icon to add any related images that you need to share.

1note_4

Once you have you images, you can add text and name the page for the section.

1note_5

This is my favorite part – This page can be viewed from the web-based OneNote or your desktop version (if connected).

1note_online  Online

 

1note_desktop  Desktop

Now, anyone who is connected to that OneNote can collaborate on the Notes taken – Single source of information!

Hope you found this helpful – Enjoy!

TG

First Post!

I’m going to start off with a little something I use at work to keep track of the requests my team and I are working on.

Based on the ‘Kanban’ priciples, I use one of my cubicle windows as a board with sticky notes to  easily represent what is going on with my team. Below is a snapshot of my board.

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The way I have it set up, There is color-coding for the different departments we support. Working from Right-to-Left (I only do this because of the location of the wall, i’d rather go left to right):

  • Ideas: Thoughts to use later but don’t have time at the moment. Sometimes a random thought will be of benefit to someone else.
  • To-Do: Requests that will need to be done. Typically, they’re in the To-Do until the priority moves or resources become available.
  • In Progress: What the team is working on “Right Now”. I try to group by priority/assigned/department depending on how things are moving.
  • Testing: Anything that is out of our hands and needs to be approved to be moved to production or back into the in progress queue.
  • Complete: The request is done! It’s nice to see progress with everything going on.

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How the note is laid out:

  • The upper left highlights the Department the request is for.
  • The upper right displays the request number. I use this number to reference any documentation written up as well as a secondary list of requests to the team.
  • The center boasts a short but meaningful title so I can quickly recall what it is about.
  • The bottom right is usually the initials of the person assigned to the request.

For as small as my team is and the relatively low complexity of the requests we get, I’ve found this method to work really well. It has evolved and will continue to do so as time goes on. I personally prefer it to the endless spreadsheet solutions that I’ve encountered from others around me, which brings up an interesting benefit. Since this is not the norm and highly visible, it gets people talking and in some cases inspires others to get more organized. This is nice, since it’s a part of my job to improve processes!

Just search the web for Kanban and see how it works.