PM Tools: Freeform Databases – OneNote versus Evernote

When I first started managing projects, I knew the importance of keeping all of my project information in an organized tool.  Particularly email, notes to myself, copies of memos, status reports, team info, etc.  I first started with a product called Infotree from Nextword .  This allowed me to capture my emails (incoming and outgoing) by cut and pasting them into a tree-like hierarchy.  I did the same for nearly every document I created.  Worked well, outside of the manual cut and pasting.


Problem occurred when I was on a project that the client would only allow us to use their computers (due to security reasons).  Well I wasn’t going to install my program on their computer.  That is when I came across a program called Treepad .  Same concept as Infotree, but the business edition allowed me to run it off of a thumb drive.  Problem solved.  Matter of fact, I had even upgraded to the Enterprise 12 GB version.  Knowing that my 8 GB stick could hold a lot of info, plus it allowed me to open 5 files at a time and search between them.  I created the following databases:

  • Client database with a tree structure for email (inbox and outbox), files, memos, status reports, issues and resolutions, risk, etc.
  • PM database with PM articles and PM templates that were instantly available to me.
  • Administrative database with info from the firm I worked at
  • Software database with particulars on the software we were implementing, usually large ERP projects.


Then I started playing with Microsoft OneNote (see ) the biggest OneNote fan site.  This is probably one of the most under rated products by Microsoft.  Just a fantastic program.  It allowed me to setup a Project notebook with individual folders relating to project specific needs.  But the biggest time saver was the OneNote icon in Internet Explorer and Outlook.  I could just click the icon and my email would be automatically saved, same with any page in Internet Explorer.  It also could capture audio and was easily used within the Microsoft office suite.


But once again, I could use it on my laptop, but not necessarily on the client’s computer.  Then I found Evernote .  Evernote gave me the ease of copying info from Outlook, Internet Explorer, but also MS Word, it could find text in graphics and pictures.  But most important of all, it could run from my thumb drive, Internet Explorer, even an iPhone (if I had one).  When I posted the Question “OneNote versus Evernote” from a PM perspective, I received the following tweet from Stan Scott, Twitter: “Evernote lives everywhere (PC, Mac, Web, iPhone), not OneNote. I find ON’s hierarchy confusing. EN’s tags and notebooks work”.  From Dan Fernandez on Twitter: stated “At present I have only used Evernote for personal stuff. I really like OneNote’s canvas approach for content.”


Now the question is to you, what are your thoughts OneNote vs. Evernote for the Project Manager?  Or is it one of the other tools that I have mentioned, or something different altogether?  Now I am referring to tools for just you as the PM, not Sharepoint for the whole team.



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6 responses to “PM Tools: Freeform Databases – OneNote versus Evernote

  1. Wow – I had kind of the same evolution. I now use evernote extensively, mainly due to the web and iphone app enabling me to access the information wherever I am, without conflicting with any application use at a client site.

    Evernote can be set to automatically update itself with onenote documents, which then brings me to what I think OneNote, and specifically OneNote2007 (as some things were not completely ‘there’ in the Office 2003 version.

    Firstly, using my own laptop in tablet mode, I would be able to facililitate a meeting, with onenote recording the audio, so all I needed to write was a few keywords such as identiying when a new participant spoke and helping to firm up the action items or decision points for that meeting ( what is the point of having a meeting without any action items or decision points ?)

    Secondly, for the research and the connection between outlook and onenote – for connecting the calandar appointment/meeting note, for creating the meeting agenda from one note, for tagging the to-do actions and making them all appear in a single to-do list from multiple projects and one note sections. And if I want a team share and there is a sharepoint path that I can use, I can create and place team items that could be edited or viewed by the whole team without having to clog up all email accounts with many attachments.

    Now the only big problem is the resistance or ignorance in general that I have found from people that may have onenote installed but only think the purpose is for taking notes in class ……

  2. gcimmarrusti

    Geoff, thank you for your informative post. It is kinda funny to see others who went through the same thought patterns to capture your PM notes, emails, personal notes, etc. I agree in that the link from Outlook to (OneNote or Evernote) is critical.

    Best regards,

    Greg Cimmarrusti, PMP

  3. Hi Greg,
    I used both OneNote and others programs in the past.
    I opened a pro account of Evernote and installed on usb key (Sandisk, 16 GB) and desktop (in my home office) and notebook.
    The syncro feature of Evernote is wonderful.
    I use also a Blackberry Curve that I use massively with Note2Sel that I use how dictaphone (the message recorded will sent in audio format to Evernote/Inbox with the Tag ‘Message audio’) and I have allway open the Blackberry browser via Evernote Mobile ready to insert a quick note.
    Evernote is a program I searched from ’80 years.
    I can’t live with Evernote.

    • gcimmarrusti

      Rosario, thank you for your insights into how you use Evernote. I agree, the sync feature makes the professional version pay for itself. I really like the info on the Note2Sel, I have the BB Storm and that would be a phenomenal add-on. All the best to you.

      Greg Cimmarrusti, PMP

  4. Ian

    I had a very similar evolution from OneNote to Evernote, and while Evernote is much better for singular information capture the big feature I lost with OneNote was controlled sharing of a notebook. With OneNote you have the ability to host the notebook on a SharePoint/WSS site and collaborate with a group of people. Evernote right now is an all or nothing approach to opening up notebooks to collaboration.

    This is one key feature that I believe is important when you want to use the tool for a team or organization. It is the one thing holding me back from switching the rest of my organization off of OneNote and to Evernote.

  5. Marcie

    “Evernote can be set to automatically update itself with onenote documents” How is this accomplished?

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