Now before you starting thinking that this is going to morph into a how to on using Microsoft Project – it isn’t. A very good use for how Evernote can help you is keeping track of the research you do on how to best do a particular project you have been presented with and what it will take for you to get it implemented. Lets start with how to get from Point A to Point B.
When starting a new project, the first thing I do is to create a notebook with the title or purpose of the project. I keep two notebook stacks for this purpose, Projects – Active and Projects – Old. When I first start working on something, I create the notebook I just mentioned and put it under the stack titled Projects – Active.
As I do research for the project such as configuration examples, data sheets on the hardware involved, etc., I create a note for each item under that Projects folder. With the of the uses I mentioned in an earlier post in this series on collecting PDF’s, you can see how this will be helpful in keeping all of your thoughts or research on the subject organized and easy to find. Keeping the PDF’s organized on something is just one of the uses where Evernote will help you keep track of what you have found.
Also in another post, I talked about the use of Evernote WebClipper and Evernote Clearly. For those websites that don’t have a pdf of what you are reading and you don’t feel like going through the hassle of printing the web page and then dragging that pdf into a Note in an Notebook, this might be just the thing to help you record your research and move on to the next item that might be of use when you get closer to implementation. As they say, not all web pages are created equal, so in order to get a good “capture” of web page that has something on it relating to the project I am working on, something I will use Evernote Clearly and for another website, I might use Evernote WebClipper. Depending on how the webpage looks like when you capture it, I sometimes will switch to Chrome (which has its own version of Clearly and WebClipper) which in some cases results in a better end product of a page capture.
After getting all the research done for the project, I next start to work on a timeline of what steps need to occur in what order. Once I have create a timeline for all the steps in the project, I start on creating a note for each of the major steps where I start creating the configuration(s) I will need to enter on each of the pieces of hardware. On a recent post that I made about migrating from a single trunk connection between two switches to a multi-interface etherchannel, this served me very well as I ended up finding a step or two that I might have otherwise missed and it helped confirm that I had everything ready and could answer the questions that Management had when I put in the change control requests.
As a final step in the project management process, I also identify the various show and debug commands that I should use at each point in the process to make sure that everything appears to be working as expected so that I don’t get most of the way through a project only to run into a problem and have to spend even more time figuring out where in the process the problem appeared. I also take the time, especially when in the process of implementing the changes to makes notes of any changes to the design that had to be made and the reason for those changes, so that I can answer why I had to make a change if questioned at a later time. An example of this was the changes I had to make to the etherchannel configuration for the 3750 portion of the implementation because of a limitation I found on the port channel interface numbering that could be used which was something that I hadn’t found out about when doing the research prior to writing the scripts for the necessary configuration changes.
To further document all of the changes I will have to make to all the affected equipment, I capture the config of everything involved before I get started. I then have individual notes for the changes made to everything involved. As the final piece of the process, I then capture the configuration of the devices after the changes were made including any last minute changes to address issues I ran into during the implementation phase. As much of a pain as this whole process may appear to be, I found that I had less problems later on and could readily answer just about any question that came up as to why I had to make a last minute change or to prove that something I was suggestion has a high degree of working as expected based on a past similar situation.