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Chris Di LulloSr. IT Pro Marketing ManagerTwitter | LinkedIn
Jonathan RozenblitTechnology AdvisorMicrosoft Canada
Stephen IbarakiIndustry AnalystFCIPS, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, DFNPA, CNP, FGITCA, MVP
Don Spencer (Waterloo, ON, IT Manager of Pano Cap Canada )
Sometimes I feel like nobody else knows what it's like to be the only IT person in an SMB (small/medium business). I realize, theoretically, that there are many others out there in similar situations, but existential angst often rears its ugly head when nobody else in the company has a clue about the scope of work and depth of knowledge required just to get through an ordinary day as the only - sometimes lonely - IT manager.
User groups play a huge role in alleviating that angst, but even in that milieu there are times when it seems everyone else is part of an IT "organization". You talk to as many people as you can, make contact with the Microsoft IT Pro advisors, and occasionally ask questions about how the evening's presenter could relate the content of the talk to the lone-wolf IT manager. And then you prepare for tomorrow's technical problems, help desk inquiries, network administration, and, if you're lucky, a little R&D towards that certification path you've chosen (No - let's be realistic - if you want to study, you'll have to wait until after supper!).
And so you hunt for tools to help you get the job done,
More often than not, I turn to the blogosphere to find specific information about what tools and techniques technology specialists are using to get the job done. Especially interesting are the comments on those blogs from others joining the conversation with warnings, elaborations, and alternatives. From those conversations, I have cobbled together a variety of tools and methodologies that work - most of the time.
Ruth Morton has written recently about one tool that I have been using for many years already - MindJet's MindManager. When it comes to thinking about projects, focusing on daily or weekly tasks, preparing meeting minutes and agendas, doing online research and note-taking or generating a knowledgebase for particular IT domains, mind mapping is a terrific visual technique to compensate for the typical linear logic of the IT professional (one example is the daylight savings time extension map I generated recently). And, if you have a Pocket PC which provides on-the-spot PIM features, you might consider JKRB Software's Pocket MindMap, a utility which synchronizes MindJet's MindManager mindmaps with the Pocket PC versions of your mind maps.
Then there are the more obvious tools such as Microsoft Outlook. I couldn't operate without it. But the add-ins and Pocket PC alternatives have also proven critically important.
Integration of all one's chosen tools for getting things done is critical. My key set of tools boils down to
All of these can be automatically synchronized between my notebook computer and my Pocket PC. Is my solution idiosyncratic? You bet it is. But then that's part of being the only IT person in my company. Best-of-breed toolsets may not work as well in larger IT departments and organizations where collaboration is more important.
Two final tools I use that don't integrate well with the other tools already mentioned but do synchronize well between the desktop and the Pocket PC are from Ilium Software.
What I require are tools that synchronize my notebook and my Pocket PC and can be integrated with one another. I'm curious what other individuals and departments are doing to Get IT Done.