I promised a new entry on my Franken-sheet project tracking formulas, but while I've been trying to simplify my somewhat complicated setup, I got distracted by something really cool. At first, I thought IFTTT was the classic solution looking for a problem, but I couldn't resist puttering with it a bit.
I quickly found myself utterly addicted.
IFTTT (stands for "IF This, Then That") is an automation tool for linking apps, devices, and an ever-growing list of Internet of Things gadgets. In three months, I've gone from skeptical to adoring. In the process, I've vastly improved several workflows, and discovered some cool new gadgets.
IFTTT is currently free to use. Keeping in mind that "if you can't find the product, you're it," I'll confess to being a little nervous about ongoing service. But so far the service has been seamless and reliable. If this is a pure acquisition play, or if they are just "trying something cool," I may end up in mourning again – something I would prefer to avoid after Springpad's recent demise. But if they're working on a freemium option, or hoping to make money on an OEM backend solution, the best way to support that is to use the service. (And for the record, guys, I'll gladly throw some money at you if there's a Premium app in the offing.)
So to that end, here are 17 cool ways a project manager can use IFTTT. Rather than clutter the already expansive recipe list, I've used existing recipes wherever possible, so I can't take credit for most of them. That doesn't make them any less cool.
Document Client/Vendor Contacts
Are you working with offsite vendors or clients on your project? Track your contacts, visits, onsite meetings, and even your critical shipments from them.
Log completed ToodleDo tasks with #tag to spreadsheet
After the precipitous collapse of the Palm platform, I hunted for months before finally settling on a new todo platform: ToodleDo. I like it so much that I've actually paid for a subscription several years in a row now. (No affiliation or compensation, just a delighted user.) IFTTT integration is icing on the cake, and you'll see it crop up in a few of these recipes. This one logs any completed tasks with a particular tag to a spreadsheet in Google Drive. I use it to track completed activities for dedicated projects and volunteer work, for easier status reporting. It would be an equally great way to log client contacts and sales visits.
If my package's shipping status changes, then send me a note
Know with confidence that the shipment you're waiting on – or your client is waiting on – is on the way. Boxoh tracks packages from any of the major shippers. You can only track one at a time, but it's perfect for keeping track of expedited packages, courier deliveries, etc. This version uses Pushbullet (another service I quickly got addicted to) but it would be just as easy to send it to Pushover, or to your phone's notification system or an SMS.
If you want to keep the whole team in the loop, have the notice sent to a Salesforce channel instead (or alter to send to Slack, Campfire, or any other supported service.
Emails from VIPs get posted in Chatter
If you have a high profile client and the team needs to be in the loop, send their incoming email requests to your Salesforce chatter channel (or, again, any other compatible service).
If I miss a phone call from a specific phone number, send an email.
SMS is an option too, of course. Either way, this recipe (or your variant) will send a notice with the wording you specify when a call from a particular number goes unanswered. Create one for every key client, and you'll never again upset someone because you just forgot to look at your phone after a meeting.
Streamline Team Communication
Send a weekly reminder via SMS
Send a weekly reminder via SMS
Using the Date/Time channel, you can send a timed message to any number via SMS. This is a great way to send a regular reminder of important but easily overlooked tasks: timesheets, status reports, standing meetings, and so on. You'll have to create a separate action for each team member, but you only have to do it once.
Mute my device during meetings
Get rid of ring-tone embarrassment by silencing your phone during a meeting, assuming it's logged on your Google Calendar. You can set it to vibrate, if you prefer. This should also work for iOS calendar events, if that's your preferred platform.
Send Google Calendar events to Slack
If your team connects using Slack channels, dedicate one to your upcoming meetings and send an alert to the slack channel when a new meeting is created. No more "I didn't get that notice" absences.
We're not actually all that into Slack yet, though it looks very handy. But this recipe caught my eye. When you arrive at the office (or, more properly, your iPhone arrives), it logs the change in location to your team. It's an easy way to answer the question "Where's Bob?" if you don't mind the mildly Big Brother aspects of it.
Here's an Android equivalent.
Automatically let your group know that you'll be out of office (OOO).
The flip side of the recipe above, this one reminds your team that you're heading out for an extended period. I snagged the Salesforce version for you, but it's easy enough to connect to your preferred service instead.
Move a phone's new message to other phone
If you keep two separate phones, you'll love this one.
Trigger Follow-up Actions
Missed a call? Add to my Toodledo.
If you need a reminder to return a call you missed, this will do the trick. Well, if you're a ToodleDo user, at least.
Send new Github assignments to your Gmail inbox
If your development team uses Github for code tracking, IFTTT integration allows them to build a sort of "roll your own" activity tracker. This recipe, for example, logs new Github assignments to a Gmail inbox.
Prefer standard email? Use this version:
No Subversion integration as of this writing, but that could be approximated through Slack, if you're not using a tracking application already.
If I star an email in Gmail, create a reminder to take care of it.
If Gmail is your universal inbox, it's very easy for things to get buried. This recipe sends any starred email to your iPhone reminders list. I use a similar version for ToodleDo connections.
Log Project Activity
If I sent IFTTT a #task message, add a new task to my ToodleDo Inbox.
Ever find yourself in a hallway meeting volunteering to take care of something? There's no paper nearby, and you don't feel like pulling up your calendar or tracking app and going through multiple screens for such a short task, so you just make a mental note. And then completely forget, right? (Or is that just me?) This recipe provides a quick way to add a task to ToodleDo just by sending a text message.
Save Gmail attachments to a folder in Dropbox named with the sender's email address.
If you get client emails, contracts, screenshots, bug reports, status reports, or anything else through Gmail, this is a great way to save off the attachments for easy location later. Again, adapt for your preferred storage space if you're not a Dropbox user; IFTTT supports Box, Evernote, Google Drive, OneDrive, OneNote, and several others.
Log received calls to GoogleDrive
If you have a hard time convincing your boss just HOW much time you spend (or don't spend) on the phone with clients, this log makes it easy to prove your point. Best of all, you don't have to do anything to maintain it.
Shopping for Tools
If new #program alternative found, then push a link
I mentioned my Springpad withdrawal period above. I've since gotten past it and learned to use Evernote, but this recipe was great while I was still searching. Just find the application you're looking for on alternative.to, and append "/feed/" to the URL. This recipe searches for alternatives to Microsoft Project. If you're in software development, this could be a good way to keep up with competitors, too.
Got any favorite IFTTT recipes to share? Post them below!