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iOS ecosystem improves collaboration and productivity

Guest blogger Michael St. Pierre is the is the President of Morris Catholic High School, a coeducational college preparatory school in Denville, NJ., with 460 students in grades 9-12.He blogs at www.thedailysaint.com.

Prior to last year, our Admissions Team worked out of a cramped space that was broken up into several small, outdated work spaces. If folks wanted to collaborate, they had to either schedule a meeting or pick up the phone. In no time, we realized that the way we were working wasn't working.

We began to design a new workspace that would be more open and allow each member to collaborate on a moment's notice. The walls came down and multipurpose furniture went in. This was the easy part- what we needed next was an ecosystem of software and tools that would enable our workflow to move projects forward.

We found that in iOS and in iOS devices, using a combination of iPod touches (for office staff), iPads (for area directors) and iPhones to stay connected. Wherever we are on campus, we can get in touch with one another and iOS 5.0's iMessage makes it easier than ever. Our hope was to make work as frictionless as possible, so with tools in hand, we sought out software that would complete our journey. Apple's App Store provided more than a few options from which to choose.

DropBox has become an essential tool, whether on the Web or in a desktop setting. Now we share folders when a brochure is being designed or a promotional poster is being considered. Instead of putting a Powerpoint deck of slides on a flash drive, we leave it in DropBox and several members of the team can provide input. DropBox is completely free and has been flawless thus far.

The next app that has become indispensable is Nozbe, a classic GTD (Getting Things Done by David Allen, Penguin Press, 2002) app that is available either on the Web or on any iOS device. Nozbe's new desktop app is a companion product which syncs well with the mobile versions. The company offers a "family" or "team" account, depending on the size of the group. We opted for the former and now share projects, delegate tasks and post comments to one another. Best of all, Nozbe syncs with DropBox for the times when we want to add a document to a project list.

We recently deployed iPads to our 8th graders and provided some office support for the project. We shared research and data prior to the launch and refined our use policy via Nozbe.

As a result of both DropBox and Nozbe, our meetings are fewer and when we do meet, things move more quickly. As we now have more communication in between meetings, we are continually updating one another and collaborating so that we can get more done. Not surprisingly, as we communicate more, our collective trust level has increased.

We're open to adding other apps to our ecosystem of iOS tools but for now, DropBox and Nozbe have met our needs quite nicely. The combination of technology and physical space redesign have taken our team to new levels of productivity.