Russell Curtis is the founder and director of London-based architectural practice RCKa, a finalist for 2011 Young Architect of the Year. His firm employs Evernote as its main content management and collaboration tool.
I use Evernote, Everywhere
I use Evernote for managing content and collaborating with colleagues at my architectural firm
I started using Evernote about four years ago, but in the last twelve months, it’s become a core tool at my firm. As a young architecture practice, we were looking for a way to better manage and share information amongst our team and we also needed to find a quality management system for our business. A few of us were already using Evernote on a personal level, so we decided to make the jump to a Sponsored Account. As a Chartered Practice in the UK, we have to have a formal management system in place. We turned to Evernote as that quality management system that we use to record information and make it accessible to other people in the organization. Now, we do everything in Evernote.
Evernote as a central database
Besides being a tool that everyone at the firm uses for various projects, Evernote is the universal database for our practice. We store examples of work (including materials, interesting buildings, etc.), as well as helpful information, such as examples we’ve scoured in journals and on websites, in a Shared Notebook. We tag all of our notes and are continually adding to this library. Previously, this information was stored on a server but it was impossible to organize information in a rational way. In Evernote, everything is searchable, and even accessible on the go. If we want to do a search for buildings made of render, or art galleries, for example, we can just type a few keywords into Evernote to quickly find what we’re looking for.
Working together on the go
Evernote is hugely helpful for storing all information related to a building project because we can carry all of this documentation with us everywhere. When one of us visits a building site, we can immediately pull up everything we need on an iPad, phone or laptop. We have Shared Notebooks for each project, so all of our documentation is neatly organized for all to easily search.
Evernote has fundamentally changed the way we do business. Essentially, every piece of information — whether paper or digital — goes into Evernote. The way we used to do things was quite painful; with Evernote, the sharing of information has been streamlined. Historically, we’ve organized information in folders on a server but the problem with that system was that there were always things that didn’t neatly fall into a folder. Now, people know exactly where to go and because Evernote offers an almost non-structured format, no one has to spend a lot of time figuring out exactly where something is, and they know they can view things in chronological order and search for them regardless of whether they know which notebook they’re in.
Whether we’re at the office or on the go, we are constantly adding information to our Shared Notebooks. We’ve deployed Evernote as a formal way of doing business at various stages of every project. At the office, we have a scanner that we email a lot of marked up drawings to. It’s configured to automatically send everything to Evernote. When we’re finishing a project, we’re often on site and go through a process called snagging — scheduling small items of unfinished work which need to be put right. We go through a list of items that need to be checked off using Evernote on our mobile devices. With Evernote, you can snap a photo and make annotations in that same note about what still needs to be completed. By the time you’re back at the office, you’ll be able to hop on your computer and pull up all of the notes you took on site (which will already have synchronised to your computer). From there, you can evaluate what else needs to be done.
Evernote gives us the freedom to be mobile and away from the office. Since we share so much information in one, central, easy-to-search place, even if one of us is out of the office or on holiday, any other team member can respond to a client query. Because all reference information (including correspondence) is in Evernote, no one is ever out of the loop.
More ways to use Evernote
The more we use Evernote, the more we find interesting ways to get more out of it. It grows with us. We recently set up ifttt (an app you can find in the Evernote Trunk) to send new articles from architecture websites to our Shared Notebook in Evernote. We’ve also discovered how powerful the geo-location feature is. We geo-reference examples of work a lot. That way, when one of us travels abroad, we can quickly work out if we’re close to any locations we want to visit. It’s just another way of filtering information. The close integration of Skitch with Evernote also allows us to mark up drawings and sketches quickly and share these ideas with the office.
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