Posts Tagged ‘organization’

Online Spreadsheets with the power of a Database – FieldBook

Fieldbook has been shut down in June, 2018. More info here.

Two of the most commonly needed software applications by any organization are spreadsheets and a database. While spreadsheets are used by each and every employee to organize data clearly, the database comes handy to cross-reference and link detailed information related to the data saved within spreadsheets. To better understand the setting, here’s a short scenario.

Imagine you save the names of all employees in the different departments of your organization within a workbook, segregated into different worksheets by departments. Now you can add more information to each of those employees by creating more columns filled with more data like the projects / clients they work for, their phone numbers, their SSN numbers etc. But imagine how complicated that workbook would become if you also needed to stuff in more data pertaining to each employee like their payroll information, their leave information, benefits, bonus computations, time-tracking information, stories assigned to them in different sprints, and so on and so forth. You get the super complex multi-dimensional picture, right?

Fieldbook

Now what does that scenario make you realize? It’s that spreadsheets are great for crunching numbers, but not so great at referencing data from other sheets in order to treat each cell entity as the top of a tree with its own set of branches. Well you can do it, of course, but you won’t be able to do it “simply”. And the same vice versa situation comes into picture when we talk about databases. They’re great at managing heaps of data related to different entities but you can’t exactly ask a database to perform a really complex mathematical computation on a selected data set within a click.

Okay enough with painting pictures. What we want to get you at is the need to find a mid-way, a sort of cross between a spreadsheet application and a database which lets you not just organize large data sets but also cross-reference more data from them to form a web of heaps of data that is so organized it’s like a complete system in itself.

Thankfully, some very creative guys have already developed this convenient and truly useful hybrid system. It’s called Fieldbook and this post is dedicated to finding out its best aspects.

Fieldbook – the simplicity of Spreadsheets combined with the power of a Database

Fieldbook is essentially a database app that has a front-end resembling a spreadsheet application. You can import your existing spreadsheet data into Fieldbook, have it suggest column names as per the content type, and when everything’s filled, put it to work. What that means is that Fieldbook will allow you to link records from the database to specific columns within the spreadsheets so that you can keep detailed info about, say, your products, and easily populate that data into every order automatically, and then use that linked data in your functions.

With an application as sophisticated as Fieldbook, you can quickly fill your database with details (manually, through custom online forms, or through forms shared and filled by others), instantly search for any data through a convenient search bar, create and display information as views, and manage all your data the not-so-difficult way.

Some of the best features of Fieldbook include:

  • Spreadsheet like functions including tables, sorts, filters, data groups, etc.
  • Ability to link data together to automatically update it in multiple places simultaneously
  • Project Management, Task Management, and Time Tracking support
  • Ability to share spreadsheets with your team and work together
  • Facility to view each row in Fieldbook in a full-screen detail view, where you can add as much detail as needed
  • Can be used for scenarios like usability test scheduling, product roadmap planning, managing recruiting pipeline, and much more

There literally is a lot more to Fieldbook which you can find out from the tool’s homepage. Or you could just watch a short video of what the tool is about and how it can help you.

How it works

Now let’s come to the part that interests us the most.

  1. Visit https://fieldbook.com/ and click on the green button that says “Try Fieldbook for free”
  2. Without even asking for a sign-up the tool takes you to a basic dashboard of sorts where you get to choose from one of two options:
    1. Create a new blank book
    2. Import a spreadsheet or CSV
    3. Choose from numerous templates
  3. We wanted to start from scratch so we created a new blank book. This was where we were asked to sign-up. And this action is the same for any other option you choose in step 2
  4. A quick sign-up later, we landed on our actual dashboard where the following options greeted us:
    1. A sample 3×5 spreadsheet with random data in the middle of the screen
    2. Options to view / create Saved Searches or Forms or link the current sheet to another one
    3. Option to create a new sheet
    4. Settings within the left hand panel which expanded by clicking on the more icon in the top left corner
  5. All entries within the worksheet were of course editable and additionally, every column head had a drop-down arrow displayed adjacent to it. Clicking on this arrow opened up a whole lot of other options indicating edits we could do on the data within the sheet.

It was a little tough for us to get around using the tool in first go but we got the hang of it after a little while.

Pros VS Cons

The biggest plus point with Fieldbook is the way it manages all of your data through a single interface. “Database + Spreadsheets” is an ultra-unique idea that is a time and effort saver on a massive scale.

The biggest negative about the tool is the learning curve associated with it. You will need to spend significant amount of time to find out what each option does and how you can use it. Plus, as of now there is no offline version of Fieldbook so you need to be online to use it. Another minus when compared with other desktop spreadsheet applications.

  • Think Spreadsheets combined with the power of a Database. Think Fieldbook! @fieldbookapp fieldbook.com via @supermonitoring

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Verdict

You could call Fieldbook a completely online version of popular spreadsheet software Excel or Open Office, but it has a lot more to it than that. While it works on a very simple concept, it is not every man’s tool, meaning it needs you to learn it first before you can actually make good use of it. But we assure you that once you do, you won’t find any other tool as efficient and organized as Fieldbook.

Collaborate Better with RealtimeBoard

People who work in teams understand the purpose and vitality of whiteboards. What looks like a simple, glossy, white surface actually solves the purpose of a thousand notebooks, scrap books, blueprints, maps, or any other term you might want to give to something that is used while planning and brainstorming for development. Today, you’d hardly find an organization that doesn’t use whiteboards in its discussion rooms. Even schools have made a switch from black and green boards to the more sleek white boards, and there’s a genuine reason behind the liking. Whiteboards are smoother, easier and quicker to clean, and can also be used as projector backgrounds. No wonder they’ve become so popular.

realtimeboard

With technology taking people places, project teams have become distributed. People often make use of online tools to collaborate and share ideas. Even meetings are conducted through video conferencing. But then, how can whiteboards be carried around? Does that mean teams no longer have a tangible place to brainstorm and depict their ideas through flow diagrams?

Well, that’s where RealtimeBoard comes into picture.

RealtimeBoard – collaboration made simple!

RealtimeBoard is an online tool that plays the role of an infinite whiteboard. Just as whiteboard can be reused over and over again by erasing and rewriting on it, RealtimeBoard lets distributed teams brainstorm seamlessly. The platform is laced with simple sharing options and powerful collaboration features to provide seamless communication and boost productivity. Moreover, it allows users to keep everything they need on a daily basis at one place including post-it notes, images, videos, documents, diagrams, spreadsheets, Google Drive files and more.’

The makers of the tool work with the mantra – “a picture paints a thousand words”. If you ask us, RealtimeBoard lives up to that mantra in every single aspect.

Here are some of its most remarkable features:

  • Easily customizable flexible workspace to jot down ideas, or build an entire project on the board
  • Facilitates remote collaboration with teams scattered all around the world
  • Uses an intuitive toolkit to create mockups and schemes, and leave feedback on your colleagues’ inputs
  • Enables easy addition of files, images and documents from your computer and Google Drive
  • Contains built-in collections and integrated libraries of icons, wireframes and other content ready to be used on your boards
  • Includes cool templates that you can refer to draw ideas for your projects
  • Allows you to share your whiteboard with your team and collaborate in real time
  • Easy conversion of whiteboard into presentations using the Frames tool

realtimeboard1

Here’s how you can use RealtimeBoard

Visit the tool’s homepage and click on the blue button that says, “Start Collaborating Now”. You’ll be asked to sign up. Just punch in your name, work email and a password. Next, you’ll be asked to provide your official details, as in, team name, company size and a work phone. You can also start adding teammates immediately or leave that to later. A few more details later, you’ll be all set. If you wish to, you can watch a 2 minute video about how to use RealtimeBoard on the next screen. That will save you a lot of time of exploring the platform.

Post signup, you’ll have access to all premium features of the tool for 14 days. Once the trial period expires, you’ll have the choice to either downgrade your account to a basic one or pay to keep your premium features.

Once you’ve reached your board, you’ll see a grid layout depicting your whiteboard. On the left hand panel you’ll see a toolbar including various editing options – Insert Tool, Selection, Text Box, Sticky Note, Shape Drawing Tool, Pencil, Comment Box, Undo / Redo Button, Frames Tool (to create presentations from whiteboard), Full screen Toggle, Zoom In / Out Button. Go ahead, give the whiteboard a try, it’s quite simple really.

Once you have some ideas drawn or inserted or pasted (sticky notes) on the board, you can choose to export it as an image, PDF, download as backup, save to Google Drive, or attach to JIRA. To do this, click on the up arrow on the top left side of the screen next to your board’s name. Alternatively, you can invite teammates to edit the ideas or leave their comments. This can be done by clicking on the message icon on the bottom right corner of the screen. You can also share the board with other people by emailing them the link of the board. For this, click on the “Share” button on the upper right corner of the screen.

If you click on the home icon on the upper left corner of the screen, you’ll be redirected to your dashboard. Here, you can view all your different whiteboards and also keep monitoring the whiteboards other people have shared with you. This screen also displays some helpful examples of whiteboards fitting to different scenarios.

realtimeboard2

Pros VS Cons

RealtimeBoard proves to be quite an interesting brainstorming platform for distributed teams. It has a lot of pros associated with it which are evident from its feature description and usage. But there are a few drawbacks too.

  • Deleting stuff on the board is tricky. You have to select the object to be deleted through the selecting pointer (arrow on the upper left corner of the toolbar), then right click to open a pop-up menu and then select delete. A simple erase button would’ve been more convenient.
  • The tool is truly beneficial only for teams that have people located at different physical places. In house teams can be much quicker with actual whiteboards.
  • The tool isn’t free of cost unlike the good old physical whiteboards.
  • Take your whiteboard wherever you go, try @realtimeboard realtimeboard.com/ via @supermonitoring

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Final Verdict

Good tool, but only for those who wish to bring in a certain level of organization to their brainstorming sessions.

Using CoSchedule to Run Your Blog

Guest Post

Most blogs fail in the first 100 days, and one of the main reasons is disorganization. Successful blogs post new content frequently and consistently. But if you aren’t organized, you won’t be able to do either.

How do I keep my blog organized? CoSchedule. It’s an excellent tool which allows you to plan, assign, write and share content on social media–all in one place.

coschedule

What Is CoSchedule?

CoSchedule is a web application designed to make blogging easier and more efficient. CoSchedule provides you with a calendar to plan your content and syncs with your WordPress and social media accounts, so you have all your blogging tools at your disposal in a single window. CoSchedule also allows you to communicate with everyone on your blogging team, send them assignments, and set deadlines for them.

Using CoSchedule to Plan Your Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar helps you set deadlines for yourself and for your team, and ensures you are putting out content consistently. An editorial calendar is also a great tool for planning your topics in advance, so you never find yourself in a situation where you run out of ideas.

The first step in using the CoSchedule calendar is brainstorming topics. A good keyword tool is useful in this process. Once you think of an idea for a blog post, create it as either “content” or a WordPress post. Creating the WordPress post right in CoSchedule will save you an extra step later. Place that content on the day you want to publish it. Repeat that process until you have a full calendar.

When you are ready to actually write the blog post, simply click on the calendar entry, and you will find a link to edit your blog post in WordPress.

Try to plan your content as far in advance as possible. You always want to give yourself enough time to research, write, and create visuals for the post. You can set deadlines for these parts of the blogging process using the “tasks” feature in the calendar.

coschedule1

Using CoSchedule to Connect to Your Team and Assign Content

If you have a team of bloggers, you can use the tasks feature in CoSchedule to send assignments to them. Simply click on a calendar entry, create a “write draft” task on it, and assign it to the writer. The writer will then get an email that they have been assigned a task. You can also do this for photo sourcing, and any other part of the blogging process.

CoSchedule also has a “comments” feature, which you can use to write a more detailed description of the assignment. The writer can also ask questions in the comments. If your writer has access to WordPress, he or she can go straight to WordPress from CoSchedule to write the post. If your writer does not have WordPress access, he or she can easily attach a word document to a comment in CoSchedule.

Using CoSchedule to Manage Social Media

Many blogs use Hootsuite to manage their social media accounts, but Scribblrs now uses CoSchedule. CoSchedule allows you to access your social media accounts from your Coschedule calendar, or from the WordPress “Edit Post” page.

When you schedule social media posts, CoSchedule will show you a dropdown menu with all your social media accounts. Select which accounts you want to share your content to (you can easily do them all at once). CoSchedule will then automatically pull photos from the article, and fill in the text of the social media post and meta description. All the hard work is done for you, but you can also easily customize the fields.

CoSchedule gives recommendations for how often you should share your posts on social media. With CoSchedule, you can easily create social media posts for one day from now, and one month from now. If your content will stay relevant for a long time, you can schedule more social media posts for even further in the future.

coschedule2

No matter what your goals are, good planning will set you up for success, and poor planning will set you up for failure. CoSchedule provides you with the organizational tools you need to build and maintain a successful blog. It’s definitely a worthy investment.

  • Plan and Manage your social media posts better with @CoSchedule coschedule.com/ via @supermonitoring

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About the Author

c1fa872eadf6a23b44ab469e63b95d0fEric Brantner is co-founder of CutCableToday.com, a blog that sees hundreds of thousands of hits each month. He now seeks to help others start their own blogs on his newest site, Scribblrs.com.

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