Doesn’t it feel like there is an app for everything?
A software tool for this. A project management app for that.
It seems like just about anything can be handled by software…as long as your entire team understands how to use and then uses the software correctly. But that’s another topic…
I love that there are great tools available to help with business today. Some definitely make things more efficient. Some make certain business functions possible in the first place.
We need software in our lives, but there are things to be wary of when it comes to having so many tools.
Here are a few thoughts and things to watch for when you’re selecting tools.
Watch Out For Distinction Bias
One of the things that happens with software is distinction bias.
When we’re comparing things we often focus on minute differences. Then later when we just have the one item we realize that the differences really weren’t all that important. If we chose the more expensive option we might feel let down because the less expensive option may have been just fine.
When you’re looking for software do your best to understand exactly the tasks you need it perform. On the flip side also consider the tasks you don’t need it to perform.
This will help you when you’re shopping around for software. When you know what you need, and really only what you need, you can better choose the option that is just fine and for the least amount of money.
Car buying is a lot like this. Do you really need chrome wheels for an extra $1,000? Do you really need leather seats for an extra $5,000?
Maybe. It depends on what your priorities are. But if you’re just looking for a car to get you from A to B, then you can look for the option that accomplishes that and nothing more.
Watch Out For Too Many Features
That discussion leads us into the concept of features.
All software has features. And it seems that software companies are always looking to add more features. This allows them to make their software seem better and sometimes it allows them to increase their price.
Sometimes it’s good to add features, but a lot of times it’s not good to add features.
In my personal experience it’s more common for companies to add features that lessen the value of the tool. For example, I use an invoicing tool and it works great. I use probably 25% of the available features. If I had the option I would probably remove a lot of the navigation and buttons within the software to make it faster for me to use.
And recently the company that offers the tool did a redesign and added more features. That has been bogging things down and adding confusion making the process a little slower.
By adding to the tool they actually made things a little worse. It’s still great, but it was a change in the wrong direction.
As the buyer of a software it gets back to recognizing what you need and being able to determine if you really need a certain software.
Watch Out For Confusion
In the late ’90s TVs really started to boom. People were getting bigger and bigger screens. They had cable and all kinds of channels. They would hookup speaker and sound systems. They would do all kinds of things.
And there was a lot of confusion.
For the big time TV watchers and video gamers it was great. They wanted more complexity. They could understand everything that was going on.
But that was a small percentage of people.
The majority just wanted to hit the Power button to turn the TV on so they could watch the football game. That’s what TV had been for decades. A simple remote control with a power button, a channel button, a volume button and that’s it.
But things got really complicated and caused a lot of frustration.
The same thing happened with computers. Most people wanted the computer to get easier and some computer makers did that. They allowed people to just turn the thing on so they could play solitaire and check their email.
When you’re using software look for confusion with your team and how they’re using it. Confusion leads to inefficiency and by using a certain software that seems great you could actually be slowing things down and costing your company money.
Software Tool or Old School Ledger?
Sometimes we have to question whether software really solves our problems.
I used to work at a company that did a lot with Microsoft Excel. Just an old school ledger system.
They would periodically look at software to replace some of the things they did in Excel. What was great about the company as that they always focused on inefficiency. They wanted to keep things simple.
They would replace an Excel process with a software, but only if it was more simple. Often, they just stuck with Excel because it was the most basic way to complete the process. And because it was often the most basic it was usually the cheapest and most efficient.
Schedule Regular Software Tool Audits
A good practice for a business today is to schedule regular software audits.
In the world of software and apps today it’s easy for a business to subscribe to all kinds of things. And without an audit we’ll just keep pilling things on and adding complexity to our lives.
Late in the year in November and December is usually a good time to do this. But you can do it anytime.
Go through and list all the tools you’re using. Then work with your team to determine how vital they are to your processes.
Usually you’ll find that you can cut tools out, which will save money, but that will also make your internal processes more efficient.
I love software and tools and tech and all of it. But not for everything. Sometimes it seems we add complexity to our lives just to make it feel like we’re busy and accomplishing something.
But some of the most successful people and companies I know are the ones that look for simplicity in life. They aren’t looking to add things. They’re looking to subtract things.
Remember that each time you’re looking at adding a new tool to your company.