Never lose a visiting card – Use OneNote and SharePoint

Practical Problem

There are many methods available for managing contacts and visiting cards. Using a card scanner and using OCR works well. But most methods fail due to lack of discipline.

Here is what you can do. By the way, this can work for you as a person or the entire organization.

Use OneNote

    1. Create a new notebook using OneNote. DO NOT make a local notebook.
    2. Store it into SkyDrive or SharePoint. This way you can access it from any mobile or pc anywhere. Name it Contacts. Create sections like personal, business, friends, recruitment, customers, etc.
    3. Everyday, take photos of new visiting cards which you received. Just use any simple mobile camera. Make sure the photos are sharp. The resolution does not matter. Even 2 Megapixel camera will be fine.
    4. Import the images into OneNote and put them in the correct section.image
    5. Now you can search for any text in that notebook. CTRL F – find , type any text. Choose the area to search – section, this notebook or multiple notebooks.image
    6. OneNote can search for text automatically. The OCR (optical character recognition) software is built-in to OneNote. It also supports multiple languages.image
    7. If you want the full text from a visiting card, right click and choose Copy Text from Picture and paste it into any other place.image
    8. This way you can create a simple but effective contact management system!

Adding photos directly with OneNote on Mobile

OneNote is available for free on Windows Phone, Android and iOS. Using OneNote mobile makes it even more easier. Just open the notebook – Insert Picture – take a photo of the visiting cards. That’s it.

Working in a team

Share the OneNote notebook with your team members. Create a section for each person and ask them to add photos directly.

Adding the backlog

Remember that you don’t need to take the photos separately for each visiting card. You can arrange multiple cards on a table and take a photo. This way you can add all your existing cards quickly to OneNote. Make sure you add all the past cards.

Sharing = 1 copy in 1 place (SharePoint)


In the last article we saw how email misuse leads to enormous amount of inefficiency.

The solution was to share files (or any other shareable thing) by keeping a single copy at a central location.

In this article, I will explain the solution in more detail.

Storing the single copy – where?

Where to store the document? The answer is simple. It should be kept in a place which is available to all those who need it and from all places they need it from.

On the face of it, there are many solutions available – these are cloud (internet) based hard disks. DropBox, Google Drive and so on.

However, I find SharePoint to be ideally suited for business sharing and SkyDrive for personal sharing.

You store the file there. And then can see it on laptop, mobile, tablet etc. That means sharing has happened across devices and it is location independent.

If you decide to share the file with others, you can choose whether they can see or edit the document. This way you can share without making copies.

Needless to say, whomever you share with can view it from any location and on any supported device.

This is how all the problems associated with email based sharing vanish instantly.

Storing a single copy – of what?

Although the current discussion is about files – the concept is by no means limited to files. Here are other things of corporate importance which are equally amenable to SharePoint based sharing.

  1. Company Holidays
  2. Corporate Event Calendars
  3. CSR activities
  4. Training Schedules
  5. Departmental Activities
  6. Statutory Submissions
  7. Investor Centric Activities
  8. Marketing / Product Launch Schedule
  9. Security Drill Schedule
  10. Common Contacts (at least at departmental level)
  11. Task lists specific to projects / departments
  12. Picture libraries (Events, Top Management, Awards, Achievements, Factories, Product Images, Advertisements, Social Campaigns, etc)
  13. OneNote notebooks shared across departments, project teams, crisis committees, etc.

Now let us get our focus back to files. But remember that everything we are discussing below is applicable to anything which can be stored in SharePoint

How to access the file if not connected?

Although this concept is fairly well known, not many people are using this as a default method of storing documents. We still prefer to create documents on the PC and then upload it to some web based drive.

One of the reasons for this is the fear of losing control over the file. If your original file is on the internet and you don’t have a connection (or a good connection), then it is as good as not having the file.

This is an unacceptable scenario. But there is an easy solution to it.

SharePoint and SkyDrive provide Sync tools for your local PC. Once installed, it acts like a folder on your local drive. You save the files to that folder and it will automatically upload and synchronize the files with the internet storage.


This gives you best of both worlds. Central, single shared file and ability to edit when offline.

SharePoint and SkyDrive storage does not blindly copy and sync files. For Office files, it only changes the part of the document which has changed. This way you get faster sync performance and it also minimizes your bandwidth utilization.

Try this out and see the benefits for yourself.

Does your company have SharePoint?

Don’t assume that you don’t have SharePoint. Many companies have SharePoint or Office 365. But often IT does not make it available for all staff members. So it is best to check with your IT team. Ask them if they can create a Team Site for you and then give you administrator permission within that team site. This site can be used for sharing documents, data, pictures, calendars, tasks, links, notes and so on.

Common mistake

Many of us have access to SharePoint or similar internet based storage. Unfortunately, if you are not careful, you will misuse this facility. Often, people work with internet based storage like this…

  1. Create a file
  2. Save to PC
  3. Open browser
  4. Go to the SharePoint site
  5. Click Upload button
  6. Upload the file
  7. Store in SharePoint

This is absolutely WRONG. It is a misuse of SharePoint platform.

Why is this wrong? Because you already made two copies – one local and one on server. This violates our simple rule = Sharing = 1 copy.

So what is the way out? Store the file directly to SharePoint and then sync it to  your local folder so that you can edit the document even when you are not connected (Offline)>

Office 2013 makes it very simple to store documents to your SharePoint or SkyDrive folders.

The file Save As menu automatically shows the SharePoint site which is associated with your account. This way, without changing the way we save files, you are getting the benefit of centralized storage.


The SharePoint site “MaxOffice” is shown twice because we have two independent SharePoint places mapped here.


Look at your day to day work and try finding out files and processes which benefit from this concept of sharing. For a team of your colleagues and try this out.

Unless you get the confidence of using the system well, you will not end up using these concepts and continue to send CCs with attachments!