Improving Task Management While Covering Your Rear End
I am awful at a lot of things. Baseball is one of them. Fighting games like Street Fighter is another. The only thing I am awful at that has really bothered me to any extent is my time and project management skills.
When faced with a large project and a list of tasks, I used to not know where to start. I would jump around from screen to screen, working on one thing before the next, then maybe go back to the screen I was working on before because I forgot something. Eventually, I got fed up.
Tired of being so anxious all the time, I took everything bothering me about my misgivings and did away with the excuses. I asked myself, “what would a project manager do?” Here’s how I fixed (some of) my issue, made my life easier and covered my behind by applying our project process to my day-to-day life. It’s only five things, stay with me here.
Find a tool you’re going to use every single day
It doesn’t matter if it’s an app, a notebook, or a series of messages sent by carrier pigeons. As long as you have something that you can refer to when you complete a task, and you know it’s something you will use over and over again, you’re good to go.
I take notes in an app called Notion, which allows me to make task boards, lay content out differently, add images, edit from anywhere, the list goes on. While it’s not free, the important thing is that it has everything that I need to make a to-do list of sorts. If you’d rather use sticky notes or the same pocket-sized notebook that you’ve been using since college, that’s fine. Whatever works for you.
I’ve found that the easiest way to change your habits is to slightly tweak the habits you already have. It’s the same idea as picking up around the house as you go along to avoid a larger cleanup process later on. Baby steps.
What I do:
Every day I come into work, I open Notion. I have everything laid out on a calendar, and can add new pages for each day. I also have each page tagged with the project that it’s related to. If I am working on Valacta and I have a meeting with them, my page can immediately be attached to that project.
For EVERY task, write down the requirements. And then check them.
When you add a task to your list, make sure you write down or otherwise have a record of the requirements that would go along with that task. Designing a login screen? Write down the fields, text, and any visual assets that need to go into that screen. Need to take out the trash? Jot down each room with a garbage bin and get to work.
What’s important from this self-created inventory is that you have a detailed record of what was asked. Even better? Now, you can go over that list with someone else and verify that everything written down was accurate, asking questions along the way. In a work environment, you would go over this list with your actual project manager. At home, you could go over the list with your significant other, your roommate, your cat, or just read through it again and check for yourself.
What I do:
If you’ve used Trello, JIRA, or other project-based task management software tools, this might seem familiar. I start with a task board that has three simple columns: Not Started, In Progress, and Completed. Whenever I have a new request, I create a task card with a detailed description in the Not Started column, to be moved forward later.
Ah, the feeling of crossing something off of your list. Of moving the ticket to the Completed column. Of that distinctive checkmark motion. Very few things are as satisfying as completing a task. One of those few things just so happens to be crossing that task off of a list. Make sure you do so and take a moment to pat yourself on the back. No, really. Do it. It’ll feel great.
Something change? Back to the task board
Whenever something you’ve completed has been marked as complete, and then it gets sent back to you with edits or new requirements, that’s perfectly fine! No one gets every single thing perfect every single time (if you do, you aren’t reading this blog).
A trick I do to track changes on a task card is to add all the client feedback as a comment. Unlike descriptions, adding a comment will keep track of when they were submitted. With edits to an established task, knowing exactly when something was submitted is more important than I have space to type here. You want to be able to turn back time and see what comments were made by whom and why in case there’s ever a question of “why did you do this?” It’s happened before. It will happen again. Being ready for it is the best defense you can ask for.
Trust the process. When that doesn’t work, iterate on the process. Never beat yourself up
Like I said before, no one gets every single thing perfect every single time. Moreso when it’s the first time you’re trying a new process or tactic. Not everything will go smoothly. Heck, maybe everything will crash and burn.
As hard as it may be, it is worth it to step back and take a look at what worked, what didn’t work, and what you can do to fix it all the next go-round. If something I said doesn’t fit your style, but it inspired another idea? GREAT! Take that idea, run with it, and share it with the rest of the world. Why do you think I’m here writing this and you’re there, reading it?
Experience Designer Nelson W Johnson can often be found spending his time drawing, hosting a gaming podcast & hanging with his cats. With a passion for technology and an obsession with floral shirts, he loves finding design solutions to users’ technological woes.
Successful Mobile Solutions are often praised for their simplicity and intuitiveness, while this is very true this part of the solution is often one component of the entire ecosystem. Mobile Solutions are very much like icebergs where the Presentation Layer (Often referred to as the App) is the tip of the Iceberg. Although this analogy has been overused over the years, I find it to be a very accurate representation of a Comprehensive Mobile Solution. Under the surface of the successful App or Series of Apps, we often find well thought out Application Distribution and Delivery, Service & Integration, as well as Structured Data and Infrastructure Layers. All these components serve to make up a great Mobile Solution. Picture again the Iceberg, and I am sure you will imagine the water around it, that is the Security Layer, something I have been covering in my most recent posts.
Although I can go into great detail about any one layer mentioned above, it is the security layer that I have emphasized most of my posts on over the last few weeks and the one I want to close out on today. In order to have a great solution, we need to identify the right combination of people, processes, and technology, and I realized that most of my posts speak to the process and people aspect of security and omit the technology aspect.
One of the reasons for omitting technology is because there are several great solutions in the market place and narrowing down my security recommendations to just a few does not do the marketplace justice. Picture Mobile Security to be like the home page of your phone; if your phone is like mine no two apps are built by the same company (Unless you count the text and phone app), the reason for this is because we look for best in class solutions that can help us solve our unique needs. Similar to this is the Mobile Security Market Place. That being said, I do want to mention a few products, in no particular order, that Shockoe has had the opportunity to work with and deploy for several clients over the last few months.
One of the first security questions we normally get is “How can we protect the data on an app deployed on an employee device”. While the answer to this is not simply a solution can be found in one of my previous posts (SDK vs Wrapping). Some of the solutions we have worked with include Mocana, Air-Watch, Good, and Citrix.
Mocana is a unique application in that it is a leading Mobile App Protection Platform; this company is strictly focused on providing a simple yet secure solution to wrap Enterprise Mobile Apps without the Big Enterprise Systems. Although one of the primary focuses for Mocana is Secure App wrapping, it does this job second to none and as such is a strong competitor in the marketplace. One of the benefits to this company is its customer service, working with Mocana, Shockoe was able to develop an Appcelerator Titanium Module that can be used with all Titanium Apps.
Air-Watch is one of the most well know Enterprise Mobility Management suites in the marketplace. Although acquired by VMware in 2014, this acquisition only served to strengthen its foothold on the market. Air-watch continues to innovate like no other company in the market and offers a comprehensive suite of Mobility Management products, including the option to use an SDK or Wrapper. Outside of the level of security offered by the products, one of the things that interested us the most in our dealings with Air-Watch was the console; the step-by-step approach helps IT administrators become productive with the tools extremely quick. Again, the level of service provided by this company is always helpful when the security situations cannot be resolved. We find that Air-Watch has been a great fit for those companies looking for a comprehensive EMM solution on multiple platforms.
Last, and certainly not least is Good Work, a recent introduction by Good Technology in an effort to replace Good for Enterprise. The Good Platform has been around for a very long time and is great for organizations that have strict policies on devices and/or are working on a BYOD policy. Be on the lookout for an announcement from Shockoe for a new Good Module that can be used with cross-platform solutions such as Appcelerator.
While these three solutions only represent a small subset of Mobile Security Technology Vendors, they are ones we have worked with closely over the last few months. The key to selecting the best suite of solutions comes down to understanding your businesses short and long term Mobile needs.
As we stated last week, protecting company data and a user’s personal information is essential when building Mobile Solutions. One of the questions we are often asked is; “When selecting a method to protect data (Containerizing), which is better using an SDK or Wrapper?”
There are benefits to both and more often than not, companies can use both methods depending on the mobile solution and content. To containerize an app essentially means enabling security around specific rules, authorization, or content a business wants protected – In some cases it might be specific to the app while in others it might be specific to the device. Containerizing Enterprise Apps is a great strategy to protect corporate data while not touching personal data.
As I mentioned above, there are two primary methods of securing mobile app’s data, and content – Software Development Kits (SDKs) and App Wrapping. While the concept behind each can is the same, understanding the scenarios of when to use one vs. the other is essential to determining which is best for a business. Depending on the Security Vendor, both wrapping and the SDK should accomplish the following: Data Encryption, Prevent the cutting or copying of data, App-Level VPNs, & Device Integrity Checks. Furthermore either of these methods can be used to validate user authentication and allow system admins the ability to gain control of the app or remote wipe specific content or the entire app from a user’s device.
The key to determining what strategy to uses lies in your company’s ability to access the Mobile App Source Code. The SDK method to containerize individual apps requires app developers to have access to the app source code in order to integrate the SDK. One benefit of the SDK method is that it does give software developers the added option to choose to use custom components or methods prescribed in the SDK for securing the app. On the other hand the major challenge in the SDK method is that Software providers often need to create and maintain multiple versions of the same app to support multiple security solutions and/or deployments thus making the maintenance and total cost of ownership (TCO) for the SDK method more expensive. A firm understanding of the source code and developer skills, which could vary, based on the platform, are also required for this method.
Conversely, app wrapping methods do not require any changes to the app’s code and are more cost effective. App wrapping does not require any developer skills, but has more limited security features, in most cases. A power user or system admin would upload the APK or IPA to the Security Vendor’s Solution to enable the app wrapper, and proceed to distribute the app through appropriate methods. In most cases, businesses can only use the wrapper when they do not consume a shared service and do not have access to the source code.
To learn more on this topic and how to strategically select the best option for your business Contact Us
CIOs in top performing companies recognize the benefits mobility brings to their salesforce. In 2014, we have seen an increased demand for mobile applications to enable corporate sales teams. From planning to face-to-face meetings to post-call follow-ups, sales enablement solutions can be designed to streamline and support every step of the sales process.
Companies find it hard to achieve these benefits without a true mobile strategy, but if implemented correctly, we have seen the following benefits:
Pre-Sales Planning: A customized mobile sales solution can point your sales force to sales tools, product information, and customer information, and calculators for specific selling situation.
Higher Customer Engagement: Mobile solutions can enable data-driven decision support and assessment tools make it easier to deliver targeted, expert advice in consultative selling situations.
Faster Customer Follow-Up: In a world were speed and service is critical, mobile solutions help businesses stay one step ahead. Mobile applications streamline the capture of the customer information and interaction and can allow your team to send response e-mails and invoices faster.
Aside from these benefits, a good sales tool can also help reduce overhead, increase revenue with more sales per day per sales agent, and reduce material and workforce costs, all while making your teams more efficient
On the heels of a major upgrade to their mobile software, Apple recently unveiled their newest version of the world’s the most popular tablet. The new “iPad Air” is a thinner, more powerful version of the company’s flagship device. But will the combination of the sleek new operating system and more eye-appealing tablet translate to the enterprise as the new go-to tech for the workers on the factory floor to the board room?
Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa recently said that demand for PCs has declined. So does that mean that Apple, Windows and Android based tablet devices are replacing PCs as work devices?
One of the tell-tale signs of health of the PC industry, the back-to-school surge, was actually the worst single period for new PC sales since the global economic collapse of 2008. While Kitagawa expects the PC sale slump to level out in the United States, tablets and Android devices in particular are seeing a big jump.
“Consumers’ shift from PCs to tablets for daily content consumption continued to decrease the installed base of PCs both in mature as well as in emerging markets,” Kitagawa stated. “A greater availability of inexpensive Android tablets attracted first-time consumers in emerging markets, and as supplementary devices in mature markets.”
While Android’s price point might appeal to new consumer entrants to the space, what about at corporations? Reuters reports the real showdown for enterprise should come between Apple and Microsoft. Carolina Milanesi, another Gartner analyst — who is a little more frank about the competitive benefits of devices — said that “the iPad Air will compete with Surface Pro. Not some rinky-dink Android tablet.”
We wrote last month that Apple’s iOS7 made technological advances that will resonate with the enterprise, specifically around security. Interestingly, security might not be a determiner at least among upper management and might have more to do with ego. Many analysts believe that the iPad will remain the preeminent product among those in upper management.
“They [senior executives] will continue to prefer the Apple devices over their competitors; even over the Microsoft Surface 2 devices that have been released recently,” Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy told Computer World.
“There are some IT shops looking at the Microsoft devices and thinking ‘these might be a nice IT-friendly device’. However, the reality is when looking at these new tablets, the lightweight iPad Air, you are going to see senior people in the organisation continue to bring these into businesses and ask or demand for them to be supported by the IT department.
“I don’t see shift to Microsoft Surface replacing the iPad, particularly at the executive level.”
But there are only so many executives in the enterprise and the power of mobile devices at the front line stands to make a more profound impact on the business. So when considering moving away from PCs to extend the tablet within the enterprise at the factory floor level, Microsoft might be the more attractive option for CIOs when it comes to their staff. The old do as I say, not as I do trope might apply here. Matthew Oakeley, global IT head of Schroders, told Computer Weekly in an interview that he does not think the iPad will ever be a true corporate device throughout the enterprise.
“I bet a lot of people bought iPads for work but don’t use them for work,” he says.
“The real problem is that, if you run a Microsoft Windows estate, you want something that can talk to it.
“At an event I asked Steve Ballmer: ‘When are you going to solve the iPad problem? When are you going to make it that the iPad can talk natively to Microsoft?’
“And he said, ‘Probably never; we are not friends.’”
Microsoft has made an empire on strategic plays like the one Ballmer is said to have outlined for Oakeley above. Because Microsoft software is so firmly entrenched in the enterprise space, there’s no reason for them to leave their high ground by creating iOS connection points. Surface devices are quietly helping Microsoft hedge their bets against Apple’s dynamic and attractive product explosion of the last ten years. Still Apple’s growth has been largely consumer driven and doesn’t have the history of twenty years of software developments tailored to enterprise that Microsoft offers.
So who will rule the enterprise? As Microsoft VP Frank Shaw demonstrated, both sides have valid arguments for why their tools should be the standard, but in the end it is going to be a matter of perspective. Hopefully, an organization will look at what set of functions matter most and will work best for their corporate culture. Both sets of products have their merits and knowing one own’s unique organizational needs will be the key to making what might be a better/best decision for an organization.
Those are the decisions that we at Shockoe help our customers to determine every day.
How can we help you with your plans for a mobile enterprise?
The recent launch of Apple’s new iOS7 has many talking about how the new version of the operating system was the final death knell of Apple’s skeuomorphic roots, but beyond the style and sleekness of the upgrade, the enterprise should see the feature dense iOS7 as a major force in driving enterprises to mobile.
Security has and will continue to remain a major concern for the enterprise, but as Q2ebanking.com’s CSO Jay McLaughlin recently stated, the iPhone is by far the most secure device to try and integrate into the enterprise — as long as users aren’t jail-breaking the device.
“iOS 7 presents new vulnerabilities in the fact it contains new code, technology, and features,” McLaughlin told TechRadar.com. “Once discovered, you’ll see new exploits created – many of which would be used for jailbreaking purposes – which inherently breaks and destroys the strength of Apple’s underlying security model for iOS. […] Historically, Apple has tightened its security within iOS with each subsequent release, adding stronger encryption, Data Execution Prevention, ASLR, and the new A7 processor’s ‘Secure Enclave.’ As such, when in a non-jailbroken state, the iPhone is one of the most secure consumer devices.”
Here are eight features of Apple’s iOS7 that will change the business world for the better:
Stronger Security through TouchID & Activation Lock
“I’ve already decided [TouchID] will be a game-changer. In concert with new Activation Lock features in iOS 7 — GPS tracking can’t be deactivated and access to the iPhone is blocked without entering your iCloud username and password, even after a device wipe! — it’s hard to see this as anything but a major win for security.
The hoops someone would have to jump through to hack into the phone — lifting fingerprints, making a fake print using latex — are complicated, if they even work at all. For me, this doesn’t change its usefulness; it’s just a reminder that no security function is 100% foolproof.”
Weak passwords, disabled security locks, and misplaced devices are what keep security-minded companies up at night when thinking about extending mobile in the enterprise. While not perfect, fingerprint-based authentication in concert with the Activation Lock and device wipe capabilities can allow companies to quickly intervene in a potential security violation before sensitive data is compromised. Better to wipe a $200 smartphone quickly than expose a business to tens of thousands, or even millions of dollars to a potential data breach while would-be hacker fiddles with latex fingerprint molds.
Simplicity With Enterprise Single-Sign-On
For the busy folks on the front line delivering packages, checking manifests and entering patient data and all the while jumping between programs to do so, the repetitive authentication for each transaction can become a major deterrent in the use of the products, or at the very least the secure use of them. What if that worker could log into a CRM app and then jump into an order-tracking app without another sign-on? iOS 7 allows users to take their corporate credentials across apps, even including apps from the App Store. This reduces the need to remember and enter a number of different passwords while also keeping data secure.
Opening Up on Managed Open-In
Would you like an employee accidentally tweeting the Q4 forecast numbers? Probably not. Thanks to Managed Open-In, companies can force their employees to open email attachments in specific corporate-managed applications rather than an app of the user’s own choosing. So, even without a containerization solution to protect corporate data, enterprise information technology departments can keep business data in business-related applications on the mobile device. The business can then dictate to the user the open in options by app or user account, providing a lot of management flexibility.
Private Server Conversations With Per-App VPN
Per-App VPN allows information technology departments much more granularity in access to back-end systems. Only specific apps can gain access to a corporate network, so unmanaged or unapproved apps can never gain access to sensitive data within the enterprise. As well this restricts the ability to remove data from unapproved applications thanks to Managed Open-In. This feature greatly improves user experience and firewalls privacy so that non-business data is unable to touch the corporate network. One of the major benefits of business? Since this can quickly create barriers between SAP and Facebook, Per-app VPN makes Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) a much more realistic goal for the enterprise.
Mobile Device Management Software Made Simple
iOS7 includes a new MDM protocol to streamline third-party MDM solutions. For large businesses, the need to keep hundreds or thousands of users up to date with supported versions of software can be daunting without management software. Corporate-owned devices can be automatically enrolled in an MDM solution during activation, automating much of the custom commands, fonts, and wirelessly set-up managed apps.
Giving iWork Mobile to Get
Microsoft made a kingdom into an empire by licensing their end-user productivity tools. Now, just like Google Drive did, Apple is giving away iWork with Cloud capability in its latest release. This move won’t push blue chip companies to defect in droves from Microsoft’s enterprise licensing program, but for smaller businesses, this strategic investment on Apple’s part could help them justify the cost of equipping Apple devices while simultaneously extending on one set of productivity tools between laptop and mobile device.
Keep the “Property” in “Intellectual Property” Through App Store Volume Purchase Program
Enterprises can now buy apps and books for their iPhone and iPad-using employees and keep the to those apps or books to transfer them to other workers. For a handful of users, this might not seem like much, but those 99 cents start to add up quickly when it comes to thousands of users or expensive B2B apps or books or other such pricey materials. Previously, companies had to go through a painful process of buying redemption codes to hand out to employees to go out and download the apps on their own.
Micro location through Apple’s iBeacons
Apple’s iOS 7 supports low-cost transmitters that can work with an iPhone or iPad to collect location data, even if there’s no location system installed in a workplace or other environment. The system works over Bluetooth 4.0 and can be used to interact with an environment just by passing through it.
Major League Baseball has been a staunch supporter of the practical for Apple’s new tech for a few years now, and they have been off and running with how to use the iBeacon technology since last winter. So far, MLB has created an experience to populate a ballpark guides stadium specific information and which prompts users with different results based on where they are located, be it prompting the ticket bar-code at the entrance for the ticket-taker or popping up a coupon for a free soda once one smells the aroma of hot dogs.
“We’ve been looking at customizing the app based on where you are within the stadium, but GPS is notorious for not working indoors, especially when you are in a building made of steel,” MLB iOS developer Marc Abramson told Mashable. “Instead, we are incorporating Apple’s new Bluetooth and iBeacon technologies for iOS 7 and couldn’t be more excited about the potential.”
“Essentially, we want to create micro-locations within the stadiums where you can get different experiences,” Abramson said.
On the factory floor or in a busy transit center this sort of device/environment interplay could change the way the user interacts and experiences their environment.
These eight features are just a few of the many advances that Apple has made with their revolutionary iOS7 product. Beyond what we wrote about above, there’s plenty more worth mentioning: Multi-Tasking APIs, AirDrop and PDF annotations are but a few.
The advance of mobile technology inside the enterprise will lead to major innovations for businesses and with the introduction if iOS7 large organizations have even less reason to put off extending to mobile.
We wrote months ago that organizations who move quickly but cautiously will be the ones that reap the largest long-term benefit for their business. That said, Apple has addressed many of the major concerns for caution in the competitive marketplace with the introduction of technologies like Per-App VPN and ESSO. Extremely secure yet game-changing technology is now available to the enterprise and iOS7 has done enough that smart enterprises will use this security, locational and MDM advances to propel their business forward in the next year with the largest gain at a fractional risk.