We’ve all been there. We get one of those elusive “a-ha” moments at work, and we spend hours developing the plan. We write the slide deck, we pitch the idea, and we put the roll-out plans in place, dreaming of glory. And then a coworker casually mentions that they tried the same idea—three years ago. Oh, and by the way, it didn’t work. Or, it happened five years ago and was discontinued two years ago, right before we got there.
We’re deflated. We cannot believe that this hasn’t been captured somewhere. Or if it was, where is it? Did nobody remember that the company had already done this thing?
Maybe your horror story is a little different: with minutes to spare before the big meeting, you know that you need to present a particular chart. But who created it? Is it on their computer, is it in a deck someone else presented, is it somewhere on the shared drive? What…was…it…called? You panic and think, “I can recreate this from memory.” So you throw something together. Now, there are two versions of the same document. In the future, someone may alter the other one, and then there are three. Because you duplicated an existing document, you’ve wasted time, energy, and possibly caused a flurry of confusion when the similar documents invariably come together.
These scenarios sound like the plot of a work-based sitcom, but they happen in companies around the world every day. You can stop some of these before they go too far. Other companies have not been so lucky.
3 tips for preventing duplication
People are only human, and business moves fast. So unless your team is made up of people with exceptional organizational skills, you are going to lose some details of your work. It’s only natural. But the resulting duplication doesn’t have to be a fait accompli. Put systems in place to increase transparency, make things easier to find and next to impossible to lose. But how do you start?
1. Keep everything together. Some team members may prefer to work in Microsoft Office, while others are loyal to Google Drive. It’s hard to reference previous work when it’s stored in so many places. But if everything gets put into Evernote Business, anyone on any team can use the search feature to find work in seconds, regardless of app affiliation. Having that kind of transparency prevents duplication from “do-overs”— repeating work you’ve done before. It’s even more helpful to be able to quickly search through your colleagues’ efforts to see what’s come before or figure out what others are working on.
In Evernote Business, you can add Google Drive files, attach Office docs and PDFs, and insert images. You can even capture important conversations from Slack. Keep each project in its own notebook, or use tags to organize across notebooks. Don’t forget to share those notes with your teammates, or even across teams. And remember that this approach works best when everyone is on board with putting all their work into Evernote Business. When everything from notes and ideas to final projects is available in a single workspace, everyone saves time and money.
When you’re wrapping a project up, don’t leave your future self in the dark. Document all the metrics and notes for how the project performed in the same notebook, right alongside the other stages of the project. That way, the next time you or a colleague has a great idea that’s related to your project, they’ll be able to build on your ideas (and know which ones worked and which didn’t) without wasting time or duplicating effort.
2. Research before you commit. Before you’re off and running toward your next project, take time to investigate. Has anything like this been attempted before? If so, how did it go? And is there anything from previous efforts that you might be able to re-surface and use again? When everyone puts their materials in Evernote Business, you’ll have a complete reference of previous work that you can search in seconds, even if the original work was done years ago or created by someone who is no longer with the company.
See how one company uses Evernote Business to ensure completed projects and scrapped ideas are turned into valuable reference material, accessible from anywhere and available for everyone to tap into.
3. Pay it forward. When you complete a project, you owe it to your future self (and to future colleagues) to leave a legacy of your work. Do your part to ensure that others can use that knowledge by sharing with teammates or publishing to the company. Make things easier to find by agreeing on a set of rules for titles and tags. That way, all your work will be readily accessible, and others will be able to easily understand which notes are relevant to their search.
Another thing you’ll appreciate in the future is creating a table of contents, so that it will take seconds to find not only a completed project but every document associated with it.
Duplicated work is frustrating and time- consuming, but with a little forethought (and Evernote Business), your team can skip starting from scratch and get straight to the good stuff.