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Awesome Tools for Digital Teams

What problem are we trying to solve…..? 

Choose the right tool to solve your problem. You wouldn’t try to eat soup with a fork, you’d use a spoon. 

The list below is a bit of a brain dump for handy tools I’ve personally used and/or had visibility of in some capacity which has peaked my interest enough to become noteworthy. 

Trades people like Electricians, Plumbers, Gas Engineers, Plasterers, Painters & Decorators, Brick Layers, all know the tools of their trade. The tools that they have in the back of their van to ensure they can complete the job at hand. Within the world of digital/tech/IT, I really don’t think we have this level of sophistication in most organisations. Everyone is still trying to figure this stuff out in a world where new tooling is being invented on a near daily basis. It’s an exciting time, but it’s also an extremely complicated time. 

So this list of insights is designed to streamline understanding of how different tools can solve different problems. Nothing more than that. It’s not an opinion piece (although there are opinions listed throughout), it’s not a list of affiliate links (nothing on here contains an affiliate link). This list is really me opening my toolbox to show how different tools can be used in different circumstances based on the context you are working in. 

Genuinely, there are some really awesome tools in this list for the ones that are both good/bad/ugly, but it’s all about context. And the context specifically I’m referring to here is digital delivery within enterprise organisations ,and the larger end of the SME bracket. i.e. doing things properly, at scale, not the 1% global scale like the Amazons, BBCs, Googles, Facebooks/Metas, Netflixs of the world – Those guys have their own very unique challenges that 99% of people just don’t care about. I’m talking about tooling for the average growth focused company that is looking at putting in solid foundations. 

Everything below this line is a brain dump, treat it as such. Reach out for a further chat on any of the topics of interest listed below, it’s something we have a LOT of experience with delivering awesome results for forward thinking companies – michael.cropper@contradodigital.com


Few handy tools to take a look at. Will update this page with more info at some point in the future 🙂 

The list at present is just a brain dump of handy things for different use cases, could probably do with grouping things in due course into sensible areas for how they can be used. 

  1. Draw.io / Diagrams.nethttps://app.diagrams.net/Diagramming Tool – This tool will transform your life and that of the teams around you, trust me. Takes a bit of getting used to, but so handy for drawing “Boxes & Lines” to ensure concepts are understood and everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. 
  2. Jirahttps://www.atlassian.com/software/jiraCollaborative Agile Project Management Tool – Yes, no more uncollaborative tools for “managing projects”, I say in jest as I’ve yet to see a successful digital project manage it’s way out of a paper bag when uncollaborative tools are used, ***cough cough*** M$ Project. And yes, I also https://ifuckinghatejira.com/ – But the benefits it brings significantly outweighs it’s “nuances” and when used well, can be a transformative tool to bring back failing digital transformation projects on track. Something I seem to get myself involved with quite a lot these days. 
  3.  

 

 

To type up fully….

  1. SequenceDiagram.org – https://sequencediagram.org/ – 
  2. https://mermaid.js.org/
  3. Chart.js
  4. D3.js
  5. OpenStreetMap (+ querying tools etc.) 
  6. OS Data Products
  7. Python Diagrams
  8. YumInfo
  9. Zapier
  10. IFTTT
  11. Buffer
  12. Figma
  13. Miro
  14. Canva
  15. Selenium
  16. XPath Helper Chrome Plugin
  17. AdBlock Chrome Plugin
  18. dbdiagram.io
  19. https://excalidraw.com/
  20. Bootstrap
  21. jQuery
  22. Frameworks vs Libraries JS etc. 
  23. Maven
  24. WordPress
  25. XAMPP
  26. IDEs ?
  27. DBs? What to use when/where/where etc.? 
  28. AWS? Deep topic
  29. OpenStack, CloudStack, Xen, XenOrchestra, pfSense, VMWare etc. etc. etc. ? Deep topic
  30. Wireframing, Balsamiq
  31. Cloudcraft
  32. Pencil Project TBC
  33. Sankey Diagrams, beautiful
  34. HTML Fiddle
  35. JS Fiddle
  36. JSON Formatter
  37. JSON Formatter Chrome Plugin
  38. Microsoft Teams
  39. GitHub
  40. WooCommerce
  41. Stripe
  42. Stripe Tax
  43. TaxJar
  44. Dropbox
  45. Dropbox eSignatures
  46. DocuSign
  47. LawDepot, free legal contracts
  48. CRM stuff – Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Sales Hub, Salesforce, HubSpot etc. etc. etc. 
  49. May want to link this back to T model of a business life cycle for marketing, sales, ops + back office support stuff for finance/it/hr etc. 
  50. Clearly need a huge section on business processes here, documented, governed through workflows in systems and controlled properly through system configurations and RBAC stuff etc. 
  51. Probably want to include some architectural design patterns stuff, the book, the simplified version nagging vs event driven/web hooks, pub-sub, observability stuff and the inherent complexities of microservices and skills required to support this stuff (feels very much like the adam smith stuff with pins, gone horribly wrong) 
  52. CI/CD stuff – Commit, Build, Test, Deploy etc. 
  53. MDM (Mobile Device Management, InTune etc. 
  54. MDM (Master Data Management), processes, tech, Enterprise Architecture etc. 
  55. Google Play for Android
  56. iOS Store and challenges re. hardware and process and just generally everything being 100x more difficult. 
  57. MVPs / POCs etc. Micro-Education. 
  58. Governed workflows, definition of done, jira etc. 
  59. Managing WIP
  60. People – Process – Technology
  61. Who is going to do this for me – Delegation
  62. WordPress Stuff – Genuinely awesome plugins, Divi, Elementor,WPML, Yoast, Gravity Forms, etc. 
  63. Email Marketing Stuff – Mailchimp etc. Segments
  64. Tracking – GA etc. 
  65. SEO Stuff – Google Webmaster Central (whatever it’s called these days), Google Local Business stuff (whatever it’s called these days), 

 

 

Tools that didn’t make the list, and why;

  1. Microsoft Project – Uncollaborative by nature, painful process to get licences assigned in most enterprise organisations where this is used. 
  2. Microsoft Planner – Fine for a personal to-do list, and extremely basic use, but too basic for anything meaningful. 
  3. Microsoft Visio – Uncollaborative by nature, painful process to get licences assigned in most enterprise organisations. Significantly more restrictive in terms of features/functionality compared to Draw.io. Oh, did I mention draw.io is free to use…
  4. Lucid Charts – I mean, it’s just a paid version of Draw.io (BTW if you’re reading this… please do feel free to drop an email to change my mind on this, I’ll genuinely update this description if you manage to convince me otherwise)
  5. Confluence – May seem strange given Jira made the list, but in my experience, Confluence usually just ends up a big pile of mess when you give users free reign to create documents for whatever they like with zero governance and controls in place. Honestly though, I just dislike documents generally, they are often pointless and no-one reads them. Just use Jira. Document things with well written requirements/tasks/epics/bug fixes etc. You don’t need a “Document” per say. And if you did, well, Microsoft Word, feel free to waste time creating yet another document no-one is ever going to read. 
  6. TOGAF / ArchiMate – Uncollaborative by nature. Ivory tower syndrome. 
  7. Docker and Kubernetes – Awesome tools, but generally used as CV-Builders at the expense of sensible business decisions, resulting in everything taking 100x longer to deliver. For genuine use cases, yeah, I get it, but most times I hear these words used it’s generally followed by “…. but we’ve never used them before”. 
  8. Azure DevOps – Branding is extremely misleading, cobbled together product – Will write full thoughts in due course.