Why Did These Tools Make The Cut?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been involved in creating prototypes for Intranet-based learning/communication tools (I know that is ambiguous). Anyway, we’ve put the prototypes in front of about 30 folks to gather feedback. This experience has given me a deeper perspective on the challenge before us. Here are some examples of what we hear:

“If I’m going to use it, it has to fit into the way I’m working. It can’t ADD something else for me to do- I have too much to do. It has to make what I’m trying to do now better or faster. If it doesn’t, I won’t use it and your work will be for nothing�?

These aren’t actual quotes, but they are close. Hearing this, I began to look at the tools I use everyday and think about what allowed me to integrate them into the way I work. What was it about the tools I use that made me switch? I have two examples:

LookOut. Lookout was a free search tool for Outlook and your files (It's no longer available, see below). It indexes your information so searches are fast- and it works. I don’t look through folders anymore- LookOut allows me to get to buried emails and files more quickly than before. It saves me time- a lot of time.
NOTE: Upon visiting the LookOut web site, I see it has been acquired by Microsoft. I imagine we'll be seeing this in Outlook soon.

ieSpell. This is a simple tool that I use almost daily. Anytime I’m writing in a web based form, like through a browser, I use this tool to check spelling. Every weblog post, every Yahoo Groups post, every time I write online, I use this tool to check spelling. IE Spell makes me look better and saves me time by filling a gap in the IE browser.

Both these free tools have made it into my work life with no problem. What have you recently integrated into your work? Why did it make the cut?