The Best TechTips from 2020

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I published 48 TechTips in 2020. I realize that with the continued flood of emails, some of these TechTips may have gotten sent to a “read later” folder and were forgotten. Others may have scanned the issue but didn’t have time to do the research to see if the tip would help.

Top Ten TechTips

I have never promised that every issue of TechTips will be earth-shattering and life-changing. I hope that there will be a few nuggets over the year that significantly impact productivity and effectiveness for you individually and for your organization.

In this issue, I am highlighting my top 10 TechTips for 2020.


Keystrokes cost money. When you reduce the number of times you need to type a word or phrase, you will increase your productivity and save money. I’m always looking for tools that help you get back the only thing you cannot buy: Time. ActiveWords is one of the tools I could not function without.


There are multiple solutions for keeping track of projects and information. Your lists could include a honey-do list, a list of restaurants with notes, a list of wines in your wine cellar, or a list of books that you have read or movies you have seen (how many times have you read the same book twice?). An alternative that I’ve been using for a few years is Airtable. Airtable is an online database that looks and acts like a spreadsheet. It allows you to create, use, and share small relational databases. It is designed to be used by smaller, not enterprise, organizations.

WFH Resources

Any good business contingency plan tries to think about the unthinkable and plan how the organization should react. These contingency plans are being tested with the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In this issue of TechTips, I provided a list of information resources that you might find helpful as you make plans for transitioning to a virtual and work at home environment, at least for the next few weeks.

ID Federation Update

Managing User Passwords – also known as Credential Management – is the number one pain point for independent insurance agencies, as revealed by an ID Federation survey of 400 agents. It takes an agency thirty to sixty-plus minutes to add or delete a user. Insurance carriers spend significant money on systems security, usually with a siloed approach that doesn’t recognize the reality that agencies work with dozens of carriers.

This issue highlighted how MMG Insurance collaborated with Foy Insurance to implement SignOn Once, the insurance-based solution for federated identity management from ID Federation. In a case study, the carrier and agency both describe the project’s simplicity, which increased the efficiency and security of identity management with a new credential management process.

Zoom Backgrounds

This year Zoom became a popular platform to use for virtual meetings. This issue highlighted a Zoom feature that allows you to quickly add a custom background to the image projected during a meeting. The Virtual Background feature will enable you to display an image or video as your background during a Zoom Meeting. This feature works best with a green screen and uniform lighting to help Zoom detect the difference between you and your background.

AWS HoneyCode

This issue highlighted a new service from Amazon Web Services called Amazon Honeycode that is democratizing programming. Honeycode is a fully managed service that allows anyone with an account to quickly build powerful mobile and web applications – with no programming required.

Website ADA Compliance

Over the last few years, attorneys have been targeting small businesses and their websites for not being “ADA Compliant.” Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that companies and nonprofit service providers make accessibility accommodations to enable the disabled public to access the same services as clients who are not disabled. This article provides some resources to help you make sure your website is ADA compliant.

Delay Email Send

There are times when I want to delay sending an email to a later date and time. The most common reasons why I do this are:

  • I want to answer an email but not send it until regular office hours. I may be working late at night or on the weekend, but don’t want the recipient to feel compelled to answer immediately.
  • I want to automate sending an email at a specific time.

Fortunately, Outlook has the ability that allows you to schedule when you want an email sent. This article explains how.


Zapier is a web-based platform that lets you easily connect 2,000+ web apps so you can automate tedious and time-consuming repeating tasks. Zapier is an API for APIs. A Zap is a Zapier-created connection between two (or more) apps that automates a time-consuming task. It would help if you were exploring how to use this tool to simplify tasks.

ACT Chatbot Guide

Over the last eight months, customer expectations have changed dramatically. Expectations for instant service and ease of doing business have never been greater. You may be seeing an increase in the use of chatbots by various organizations. The reason? Chatbots help you provide an immediate customer service option, realize cost savings, and reduce staff workload by implementing an intelligent chatbot. If you have not considered using chatbots, you likely have many questions on how to get started! Fortunately, the Agent’s Council for Technology (ACT) has created “An Agent’s Resource Guide To Chatbots” to help.


These are my top picks. What are yours?

And, what tips, tricks, and tools are you using to improve productivity that I should talk about? I’d appreciate a comment listing your top tools. Thanks, and Happy New Year!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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