IBMers ask: Will I lose eProductivity to Verse?

This is a question I've been getting from many IBMers. Some of them hear they're moving to Verse and throw in the towel, assuming eProductivity is lost -- but others (typically more-experienced users) have asked: will I be forced to give up eProductivity?

The answer, as far as I can tell, is no.

As long as you have access to the Lotus Notes client (whether hosted on-site or in the cloud), you can still use eProductivity Stand-alone. This will work with your current license or subscription, and it has many of the same features as eProductivity Integrated.

What should eProductivity users at IBM do to prepare for the transition to Verse?

If you're using eProductivity Integrated and are going to be transitioned to Verse soon, you should:
A) Download and open eProductivity Stand-alone
B) Follow these instructions to migrate your data from Integrated to Stand-alone
C) Follow these instructions to remove eProductivity functionality from your Notes Mail
D) Replace the design of your Notes Mail with the standard Notes Mail template (to prevent snags when IBM replaces it)

These are the best steps I can recommend to preserve your eProductivity data in useable form (especially the links between projects and actions) and prepare your Notes Mail for a smooth transition.

What's the difference between eProductivity Integrated and eProductivity Stand-alone?

1) Stand-alone lives only on your local machine, so you'll need to manually back up your data.
2) You'll need to click the "import mail" button to get your email. It looks like this: Image:IBMers ask: Will I lose eProductivity to Verse?
3) Be aware that your Stand-alone Calendar is separate from your Notes Mail Calendar
4) You will need a third-party tool (such as CompanionLink) to sync tasks to mobile from eProductivity Stand-alone.

When you're ready to stop your eProductivity from being taken away, Stand-alone is the way to go.

More on Verse and eProductivity:
Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?
IBM Verse: our challenge and opportunity
IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse I sometimes hear the question, "Why should I invest in the tools my people have? We're getting a shiny new tool in a year." To me, what they're really saying is: "Our people are using dull tools now, but that's ok, because in a year they're going to get another, shinier, set of tools, which may or may not be better."

Here's a practical application: I was recently talking with a client about expanding eProductivity usage at his company. He wasn't sure he wanted to, because, he said, "I've heard our company is switching from Notes to Outlook in the next year."

I responded, "Ok; let me ask you, then: would you like your people to get things done at their current level for that time, then reduce that level as you switch?— Or, would you rather get a proven productivity benefit within days, then enjoy that benefit for the next year, and give your people skills and habits to use with any tools?"

Look at this way: if your employees' job was to cut boards, but they were using dull saws, would you leave them well enough alone for a year?

Carpe annum (seize the year)

Whether you're going to be using your current tools (e.g., IBM Notes) for a short or long time, it's good to consider how much value you're getting from them. In most cases, it's not hard to sharpen the saw to get incredible value.

"Value" can be measured in a number of ways:
- How quickly you get things done
- How much of your effort is directed towards the right things to get done
- How confident and focused you are at work
- The speed and precision of your decisions
- Your ability to quickly process inputs and recalibrate

The fact is, the jobs of you and your team are more complicated than cutting boards. Your job, together, is to create value (all of the above and more) for the organization. So the question again is: what if you could use a tool now, with minimal investment, that's designed to make all of this easier?

what if you could make your current tools even easier to use and more productive with minimal investment and effort?
what if you could use a tool that's designed to make all of this easier?

The only thing worse . . .

A senior manager once told Zig Ziglar that he didn't want to waste money training his people only to have them leave. Zig's response was, "The only thing worse than training someone and losing them, is not training them and keeping them."

I take the same view on giving people good tools now. The only thing worse than giving them great tools and losing them, is not giving them great tools and keeping your current level of accomplishment. You can stay there, or get better.

The bottom line

My clients and I have seen eProductivity work hundreds of times. Some of them have even gone out of their way to measure how well it works (ask me for the impact report from PUMA).

I've seen people become more confident, relaxed, de-stressed, in-control, effective, and efficient after only a few weeks (or days) of using it. I've even come back to those people weeks or months later and found they're still working effectively. In some cases, they've even built on what they've learned and moved beyond it!

I've had the privilege of working with some forward-thinking managers and executives who've chosen to help their people. Because of that, they and their teams have gotten more from their systems and learned to think differently about how they work— and they know that what they've learned can be applied to the future to create greater value, no matter what tools they're using.

The client's decision

To me, the decision to give people great tools now and get the most from them is unmistakably clear. It was for my client as well: he decided to expand eProductivity among his people, and he considered it an investment.

He knew it would immediately boost his team's productivity for as long as they were using it. He knew the switch to Outlook may or may not come, but he wasn't deterred from investing in his people by improving their toolkit and skills.

His time, place, position, needs, and team were not unique, and this was his decision. What's yours?

When you're ready to invest in your tools and get greater value in return, give me a call. I can help.

Most of the people who've asked us about the future of eProductivity with Verse have been from IBM.

Speech bubble question mark blue.pngIn response to this, I decided to reach out to IBMers to find out three things:
1.        What's eProductivity done for you?
2.        What would happen if you lost eProductivity?
3.        What do you think about switching to Verse?

I gave people these questions as suggestions (not requirements) for what to write about:

- How did you learn about eProductivity?
- What problem/pain you were trying to solve by using eProductivity?
- How long have you used eProductivity and how did it work for you?
- What were your favorite features?
- What impact has eProductivity had for you?
- If you were to lose eProductivity, how would it affect you?

I've received many responses; below are a few I've selected to share (and I may add more).


The below-named persons wish to make it known that their opinions, endorsements, testimonials, judgments, words, and statements of fact and value reflect only their individual views and apply solely to eProductivity, and do not reflect any opinion or judgment on IBM Verse or any other product, whether on their part or IBM's. All comments below are shared by permission of their respective authors.

That said . . .

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to VerseNot having eProductivity will be a disaster for me.

I learned about eProductivity through David Allen and GTD and tried it out on several iPhone apps. They all lacked the very tight integration between mail and GTD that eProductivity provides, and since corporate policy is that no data can reside outside the firewall, eProductivity is the only tool that can comply.  

My favorite features are: linking mails to projects; the Today view, and the Weekly Review Coach.

The impact on my job is simple: eProductivity keeps my mailbox at a manageable level and I'm in control of my todo's and forthcoming actions, which means I'm on top of my business.

I seriously hope you will consider making eProductivity for Verse!Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse

Torben Linér
Project Executive
IBM Denmark

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to VerseI have found eProductivity essential to clearing my head on my priorities for each week, especially when things are very pressured and all of us have more to do than we can in the time available.

. . . I think eProductivity does a good job, considering it is an add-on above the basic Notes layer. Having invested the time and money in getting my projects and tasks set up, I would be reluctant to sacrifice that, so I would hope (and expect) that you guys provide some roadmap with the introduction of Verse.Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse

Doug Stapleton
Executive IT Architect
IBM Australia

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to VerseI was trying for years to find a system that would help me work on the right thing at the right time. I have been using eProductivity for two years, and it works excellently for me. Every action is recorded immediately; nothings getting lost anymore. Emails can be easily put into actions with the right categorisation.

It helped me (and still helps me) enormously to get everything done as quick as possible and keep my brain free. I know that every action that is coming into my mind is recorded and getting done soon. My productivity level has increased significantly. Over the last two years I completed 3000 actions. My Lotus Notes Mail In-box is always empty. eProductivity is a treasure for me!Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse
Franz Schroettner
IBM Austria

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to VerseFor me, losing eProductivity would be catastrophic. I haven't tested Verse yet, but the increase in productivity I've had with eProductivity has been exponential during the last months I've been using it.

My full support on you adapting to Verse.Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse

Julio Sánchez Cubas
Executive Architect
IBM of Spain

*UPDATE* I've recently received this feedback as well:

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to VerseI learned about eProductivity while searching for info on GTD suggestions and implementation.  I've just started using it, and I find it a useful tool to improve my inbox handling.  It's encouraged me to get my inbox much closer to zero than ever before, and I'm still working through it.

GTD [David Allen's Getting Things Done] can be done in Notes, but I like having projects and next actions more clearly integrated.

In Verse, I suspect I'll have to do more things manually than with eProductivity
.Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse

Jerry Quinn
Senior Software Engineer

(emphasis added)

*UDATE 5/28* I just received this today:

Image:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to VerseI think I heard about eProductivity from an internal group here in IBM.  At that time, I was already using David Allen's "Getting Things Done" and looking for ways to integrate that into my working tools.

I've been using eProductivity for about six years. It works pretty well. I have tweaked a couple of things, like adding a Next Actions view (you really need this!) to show Next Actions (and "orphan" actions that aren't attached to a project). The best thing is the ease of turning email into projects and actions.

eProductivity is how I manage my to-do list. To be honest, when I switch to Verse, I don't know what the impact will be. The ability to mark a mail as "Needs Action" is useful, but this feature clearly does not have the full action-management capability that eProductivity givesImage:IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse .

Dr. Keith Collyer
Rational Expert, Requirements
Medical Device and Electronic Design Solution Offering Lead
IBM Internet of Things Engineering Solutions

I'll just let those speak for themselves.

Based on all the marketing materials, Verse looks great -- but I've yet to see any user-generated content showing how someone uses it to get things done. I'm hoping we can help make Verse productive for people who use it.

More on Verse:
Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?
IBM Verse: our challenge and opportunity
IBMers ask: Will I lose eProductivity to Verse?

More IBMer feedback:
This fantastic story from Michael Cheatham of IBM US.

IBM Verse: the challenge and opportunity

Verse has been the subject of a bit of discussion around here lately—understandably, since IBM will undoubtedly try to push all their customers to move onto their shiny new product.

For me, the big question about Verse is: how well it will enable personal productivity?

Collaboration/social/analytics are neat and slick and fun and all that, but I have to echo Eric Mack in saying that, at the end of the day, work—as in, the actual getting done of things by people—is inherently personal and individual. And I "have" to say that not because I work here, but because, based on my experience, I can't reasonably say anything else.

A closely-related question is: can we make eProductivity work with Verse?—create a "vProductivity," if you will?

20150521 - vProductivity.jpg

Our mission has always been to enable individuals to get things done. We've accomplished this by bringing the "Getting Things Done" method—a truly radical "new way to work"—to benighted Notes users at many, many workplaces around the world.

That's why I still have two questions for Verse: A) how well will it help people be productive? and B) can we improve this?

Ultimately, our interest in Verse will be driven by the marketplace—good ol' supply and demand. At the present, although I'm hearing from many passionate eProductivity users asking about our plans for Verse, most of them are IBMers who will have no choice about switching to Verse (in fact, I'm planning to reach out to IBMers to ask what eProductivity's done for them and how it would affect them to lose it). In other words, when it comes to Verse, we've yet to see a significant, public, collective cry of "I want that!"

We'll keep developing eProductivity and other solutions, and we'll keep our commitment to the Notes marketplace and Notes users. People at over a thousand organizations use eProductivity every day to get things done, and we'll keep serving them. We've been using Notes for over 22 years, and we've seen many other solutions come and go in that time. While I realize things are shifting toward mobile and cloud, I also know that many, many people continue to rely on their Notes client to do their work.

Got questions, comments, concerns, queries, etc.? Email or contact my team and me at:
Our "Contact Us" page
Twitter (#vProductivity)

See also:
Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?
IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse
IBMers ask: Will I lose eProductivity to Verse?

Image credits:
Laptop with coffee mug image by CQuadraNet [CC0 Public Domain (], via Pixabay ( Modified with permission.

Will eProductivity work with IBM Verse?

I've been getting this question more and more lately. The short answer is: not without your help.

To make eProductivity for Verse a reality, IBM would need to either A) provide "hooks" in Verse to allow eProductivity functionality to be developed for Verse, or B) license eProductivity for direct inclusion in Verse, thus making Verse "GTD Enabled."

IBM probably won't do either of these unless they hear that their customers and employees want it. They've proven they understand the value of what GTD and eProductivity can deliver to their customers [see here], so this wouldn't be a huge stretch for them.

The long answer is this:

IBM Verse has been touted as a new way to work [source]. From what I've seen so far, it is (at present) a shiny webmail client that appears to be a subset of iNotes.

Shiny blue cursor smaller.jpg

It remains to be seen how Verse is actually going to make people more productive, less stressed, and better equipped to handle our always-on world.

In short, I have yet to see how Verse is actually a new way to work.

On the other hand, users of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD) method have been experiencing a really new, proven, revolutionary way to work since 2001. eProductivity has been bringing GTD's new way to work to IBM software for a decade (in fact, our CEO just wrote on this very topic the other day).

Because eProductivity has changed how so many people work, my team and I have been asked more and more whether it will work with Verse, much like it currently works with other IBM software. I would love to be able to say yes.

Our vision for a really new way to work
(that you already have)
If my team and I could work our will in the professional world, we'd make sure that everyone, from overloaded executives on down, could easily:
- Empty their inbox as often as needed
- Maintain a clear view of everything requiring their attention, no matter how often it changes
- Know what's most important to do in the moment based on their priority criteria in the moment
- Keep track of their projects to ensure they're all moving forward

This is what GTD and eProductivity have actually enabled for many, many people around the world for over 15 years. How new would that be for your work?

On the other hand, Verse claims to deliver all of this, but from what we've seen so far, it doesn't.

How you can help

What about the people whose productivity is about to plummet? I mean eProductivity users who've heard they'll be switched to Verse (mostly concerned IBMers).

I've been having conversations with these people (especially IBMers). They're helping me understand eProductivity's value to them and what "eProductive" features they'd like to see in Verse.

I'd love to hear from you too, especially if you're:
- concerned about losing eProductivity to Verse
- eager to give your input on what features (eProductivity-inspired or otherwise) you'd like to see in Verse

Whether to get the official GTD label on Verse is up to IBM, and the biggest thing that could influence them would be to hear from their own people and customers—so let's hear it!

Feel free to email me at NPaul[at]!

More on Verse:

IBM Verse: our challenge and opportunity
IBMers speak up about eProductivity and switching to Verse
IBMers ask: Will I lose eProductivity to Verse?

Image credit:
By Arcanev [CC BY 3.0 (], via DeviantART.
Over the last few weeks, I've been corresponding with Michael Cheatham of IBM Global Business Services, who's used eProductivity for the past three years. He seemed very satisfied with our product and service, so I gave him a few questions as prompts and asked whether he'd be willing to share his feedback, even if only a sentence or two.

I often ask for feedback from people who enjoy eProductivity. Sometimes I don't hear back, which I understand — our customers are usually very busy professionals. Other times, I'll get a nice, short comment.

But every once in a while, someone goes all out and blows me away. That's what Michael did the other day. He chose to answer the prompts I provided, so here's his complete eProductivity story, in his own words:

Image:I got this fantastic eProductivity story yesterdayHow did you learn about eProductivity?
Before joining IBM, I used MS Outlook as my email and calendaring system. I read David Allen's book, Getting Things Done, and while searching for more information on the topic, I found a Getting Things Done (GTD) plugin for Outlook.

The GTD plugin helped me to manage my in-box and greatly increased my productivity . . . Once I joined IBM, I found out that the email and calendaring system used was Lotus Notes, so I did a web search for a GTD plugin for LN. Instead I found eProductivity, which offered much more functionality that the Outlook GTD plugin, and so I ordered the application.

I started with a trial of the stand-alone version, but by the end of the trial I was convinced that the tool would provide a lot of value, and I ordered the full integrated version of eProductivity.

What problem or pain you were trying to solve by using eProductivity?
My problem was that I received 50 to 100 emails per day, some of them important and some of them not. Of those that are important, some I can act on immediately, some I need information from others, and for some, I have to schedule time to action them.

In regular Lotus Notes, the most I could do was set up rules to action certain emails as they came in, but that was not sufficient for me to stay on top of everything that needed to get done.

How long have you used eProductivity and how did it work for you?
I have now been using eProductivity for almost three years. When I first installed eProductivity, I had approximately 700 emails in my in-box.

Through using eProductivity and setting up some rules in Lotus Notes, I was able to get this down to literally zero. I now rarely have more than 6-10 emails in my in-box, and I am almost always able to end the day with none

. . . this is not just a matter of deleting all my emails as the come in: I am also able to uncover what needs to be worked on immediately, and I am able to schedule (with reminders) work that is necessary but cannot be completed when the email comes in. I am also able to view, in a simple and intuitive way, all of the actions I need to take and the individuals that I waiting to provide me with information.

What were your favorite features?

My favorite feature is the ability to copy an email into an action and delete the email or move it to another folder. For emails that contain all of the information I need in the email itself, I delete them and copy them into an action with a reminder date. If I need more information, eProductivity allows me to format the action in a way that it organizes all of the information I am waiting for under the individual's name. I can also copy the email into a meeting invite or an appointment if I need to schedule it for a later time.

What impact did eProductivity have for you?

With eProductivity, I feel that I am always on top of my emails, actions, requests for information, and calendar. As mentioned above, my in-box is almost always at zero, while at the same time I know I have every required action covered that was initiated by an email.

It allows me to feel like I am in control of my time.

(The views and opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer).Image:I got this fantastic eProductivity story yesterday

Wow. This is the kind of experience eProductivity was designed for. Thanks, Michael, for sharing your story! Robot hand I.eP.jpgI really enjoy consulting and coaching executives and other professionals, because it allows me to make a difference in the lives of others. There's nothing like that moment when their eyes widen and they say "I get it!" or "That's cool!"

I also get to experience this same thing with students in my Intro to Robotics course. This course isn't just a bunch of computer science geeks doing geeky things: I use it to prepare my students to work well, both in their personal and professional lives, by teaching them essential life skills.

I know teaching life skills through robotics sounds far-fetched, so I'm going to prove it below.

Robotics life lessons thumbnail.jpgIn this course, one of the exercises I teach is the After-Action Review. This consists of five questions:
1.        What was supposed to happen?
2.        What actually happened?
3.        Why did it happen?
4.        What did we learn?
5.        How can we do better next time?

On Monday, as I lead them through an After-Action Review, I wrote the answers to the final question on the board (as you can see on the left). The action under review was the students' preparation for their final in-class competition (which involved designing and building a robot in teams), but the answers they came up with also translate to work and life in general.

Note that these are not in order of importance or priority. They're all lessons learned. Here's what my students had to sayplus applies to best practices for life:

Continue Reading: "Best Practices for Robotics Competitions, Work, and Life in General" »

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"GTD®" and "Getting Things Done®" are registered trademarks of the David Allen Company. Lotus® and Lotus Notes® are registered trademarks of IBM Corporation.