DAILY INSIGHT: My workflow as CIO

By David Andrade, CIO Advisor

I am the CIO for an urban public school district. We have more than 21,000 students, 3,500 faculty and staff, 40 buildings, 15,000 devices, a full data center and fiber network, and an IT department staff of 15. We manage multiple large IT projects at once, including desktops, Chromebooks, SMARTboards, network upgrades, Kronos, printers, new school construction, multiple network applications and software, and also consult on all technology issues and purchases in the district.

Over the last year, I have developed a very specific workflow to help stay organized and on schedule.

When I wake up, I check emails for any critical issues (sent from monitoring software) or emergent needs. When I arrive at work, I login to my computer and check emails again, along with my calendar and tasks for the day. Then I check in with my staff and network engineers and technicians to discuss tasks and projects for the day, and anything they need from me.

I monitor the work orders in Track-It, which is our help desk software. I review work orders and reassign, add notes, comment, and address issues as needed.

Throughout the day I answer emails, monitor Track-It, communicate with my staff on projects, consult with other district and school staff, work with vendors, manage projects, and more.

At the end of the day, I review the current day and make notes for the next day: tasks, follow-ups, and priorities. I check with my staff and make notes on their projects.

The main tool that I use for all of this is Evernote. I use Evernote for, well, everything. I have project management notes with schedules, tasks, attached files and more. I clip news articles for review, vendor websites, and all my contacts. I clip emails, with the attachments, from Outlook, notes, tech reference, personnel files, etc. You name it, it's all in Evernote for one-stop access, from any device, anywhere.

I have notebooks setup for projects, personnel, vendors, reference notes, tasks, contacts, to do later, to read later, etc. I have a main note, Project/Task Management, that I use as my task list. I can reorganize the tasks based on priority. Each task links to another note with more details. I have this note divided up with Follow Up, Priority 1, Priority 2 and Priority 3 tasks. These get moved around a lot as priorities change.

By linking to other notes, my task list is clean, but each task is linked to more details.

Each note also has attached files as needed: quotes, specs, spreadsheets, documents, and more. I also clip emails using the Evernote clipper for Outlook; it clips the email chain, along with attachments. I can then merge or link this note to other project notes and keep everything in one place. Instead of emails in Outlook, notes in Evernote, and files on my computer, everything is in one place in Evernote.

I also have meeting notes, personnel files, schedules, and reference files and notes in Evernote. I clip websites and documents from online with the Evernote clipper and save them to the proper notebook. I use Evernote Clearly to clean up the page before I clip it. You can also clip online PDF documents directly into Evernote.

I forward emails or send files and notes from other apps to Evernote via email. You get a special email address to use.

The other nice thing about Evernote is that you can share notes with others, even if they don't have an Evernote account, for them to view. It is very easy to do. You can also share notes with others who have Evernote accounts and allow them to edit them.

I use the Evernote Scanner from Fujitsu (the Fujitsu ScanSnap scanners work too) for one-click scanning into Evernote. All paper documents, print magazine articles, print brochures, conference materials, etc., gets scanned into Evernote and organized.

I handle meeting notes in a variety of ways. I may type directly into Evernote, do an audio recording into Evernote, Livescribe Pen directly into Evernote, scan handwritten notes into Evernote, or take notes with other apps and copy them into Evernote.

By keeping everything in Evernote, I can link or merge items, organize them by notebook and tags, easily search them and access everything—notes, emails, clippings, and files—in one place, from any device or computer. I use the Windows desktop app at work and on my home laptop and then access my data with the Android App on my HTC One and Nexus 7, and the web app on my Chromebook and at other computers.

Evernote is available in free and premium versions. The premium version allows you to upload more data each month, have offline notes in the apps, and more. It's well worth it.

Here is a redacted image of my main Project Management note and notebook. You can also see the other notebooks I have on the left.

David Andrade is CIO for an urban school district in Connecticut. He blogs at Educational Technology Guy, where this is cross posted.