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Fire, Sliced Bread, and Now This!

The business environment we live in requires us to do everything better, faster, cheaper.  As a business analyst we accomplish this edict by being more efficient with our BA planning, elicitation, analysis, and communication.  We do things for less by spending less time on our daily activities because even as employees we have an hourly rate attached to us.  In today’s post I give you a tool to help you work faster, better, cheaper.  And by tools I really do mean technology.

When we think of tools to help us do our business analysis work, many of us think about requirements management tools or requirements definition tools.  If implemented correctly these tools do help teams of BAs be more efficient.  Often the ROI is gained over time for larger groups.  The tool I want to share with you will give you ROI immediately. As you pass on the word within your team, the return will grow exponentially.  Are you excited yet?

I think it is safe to say email is still the number one way we communicate with others personally and professionally.  Have you ever sat at your desk asking something like:

  • Where is that email from Steven?
  • Where is that attachment Mary wanted me to read before our meeting?
  • I wish I could connect with Jane on LinkedIn, who just sent me an email?

Well then, Xobni (zob-nee) is your answer.  Xobni is “inbox” spelled backwards and is an unbelievable plug-in for Microsoft Outlook.  Like other applications there is a free version and an upgradeable version for a fee. To date I have been happy with the free version. They also advertise an enterprise version and Xobni for the Blackberry. 


Shown here is the Xobni UI with Kupe’s information.
This is an example of what you would see of your contacts 

As BAs we are trained to focus on the problem or business need prior to jumping to the solution.  Well, I am guilty of throwing all my training out the door when it came to Xobni.  From the time I saw a demo of Xobni, it was installed on my PC within 10 minutes. 

Xobni has decreased the time it takes me to find emails, attachments, and contact information.  Without Xobni there are many clicks and multiple page views to see all this information.  With Xobni’s well thought out user interface the standard Outlook features just can’t compete.  In addition to email and contact information, Xobni pulls in some social network information for your contacts.  When viewing a contact you can see their LinkedIn, Facebook, Hoover’s, and Twitter feeds.  For LinkedIn it allows you to message people you are connected to or invite new contacts to join your network.  Xobni is the closest thing to date that is a one-stop shop for staying connected with those you care about.

So stop asking where is that email or attachment from Billy or wishing you could see the latest tweets from Joe.  Download Xobni and start increasing your productivity. 

One word of caution.  I have heard reports of earlier versions slowing down Outlook, and I had to reboot once because Outlook hung-up. Besides that it has worked flawlessly for me over the last three months. 

If you are using Xobni today share your experiences.  Do you have a tool that you feel has increased your productivity?  Please leave a comment so we can all benefit.