Tips & Stories

Evernote: An Architect’s Toolbox and Quality Management System

Posted by Russell Curtis on 05 Sep 2012

Posted by Russell Curtis on 05 Sep 2012

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Bio

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

  • Windows
  • iPad
  • Android

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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17 Comments RSS

  • Hasmukh Dodia

    I find it interesting. Would like to know more about Evernote. I am a practising architect in Nairobi, Kenya.

    Hasmukh Dodia
    Kana Architects

  • Adrian Williamson

    Russel

    Great blog post, we’ve started using it but not advanced as you guys, have used it as a snagging tool. You’ve given us ideas, thanks

  • Anne

    Whether its professional or on a personal level, the Evernote experience is something that I recommend to almost everyone I come across! This innovation has made it easy for me to keep track of everything! I will continue to tell everyone about this company and I hope all the wonderful updates keep on coming.

    All the best!

  • John W

    I’m an architecture student and I use Evernote almost everyday. It has been extremely useful in organizing my research on precedence, and materials, and collaborating on group projects.

  • Lee

    Great app ! I’m not really a huge app user, but i constantly use this for my songwriting, whether mobile or PC based.

    Nice one

    =)

  • Glen

    Very nice way of using Evernote! Thanks for sharing. Do you use Revit? How are you storing your design files? I work at civil engineering firm and can see the value, I am just not sure how we would save our cad files.

  • September

    Love evernote! Use it on every device I have. I have many..

  • Akhmed J.

    I bet as a person working mostly working with plans, images and photographs, Mr. Curtis would appreciate Evernote’s extensive capabilities for image manipulation.

    Oh wait, you can’t even resize an image in Evernote. Darn.

  • Ronald

    I use Evernote every as my central organization system.
    I’m a educational designer at a university.
    Evernote helps me to keep track on all my projects and literature.
    I’m using the system by THESECRETWEAPON as my basic setup for Evernote

    I love Evernote. It gives me incredible power over
    My work and gives peace of mind!
    I can always find my stuff back in Evernote.

    Love it, live it!

  • Rogene

    I can not open dwg format files in the Evernote downloaded files.
    Please advise.
    Thank you

    Rogene

  • Danielle Gaylord

    I use Evernote for everything, but I am struggling to figure out how architectural images are captured and, once in Evernote, how you are able to manipulate the images (if you do). As a Senior Move Manager, my company needs to upload floor plans and place furniture to scale. This is a major challenge and we wish to do this Evernote given all of it’s capabilities.
    Is there an application? Looking forward to any and all comments about this topic.
    Sincerely,
    Danielle Gaylord
    Signature Organizing Service
    Lafayette, IN

  • Neils

    I assume you have a large number of tags. Would appreciate a description of how they are set up in order to quickly identify those to use in searches.
    Many thanks,
    Neils Christiansen
    ARCH Consultants
    Salmon Arm, BC

  • Douglas Schwab

    This is brilliant! A quality controlled system that is platform independent. The issue with so many systems is that they are bespoke and require specialists to develop and update.
    Where can I find out more?
    Douglas

  • Don Harris

    This all sounds nice, but is there a way to download the information to our servers so that we comply with the laws regarding maintaining our documents for 10 years? We typically keep everything, including sketches and notes so there is a complete record of the project, process, owner approvals and final documentation. Is there a process for doing that with the Evernote data?

  • Kurt

    Your data is not encrypted in EN’s servers. Aren’t you afraid that one day the database could be hacked and your company secrets and hard work are exposed?

  • Roger

    Thanks for your information, which I found very interesting. I am a Project/Estates/Facilities Interim and I wondered if you use Evernote as your Project platform or if you feel it has the capability to be used in that way?

  • Björn Bengtsson

    Hi!

    Like your post! I am a site manager at a building company and I use Evernote and GTD in my work. Specially for commenting drawings with my Iphone+photos. It makes the whole process a lot faster, instead of trying to explain on the phone or emails :): http://swegtd.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/my-gtdevernote-system-13/