How many apps would you say that you use in a month? If you’re like most people, the answer is no less than 30. Sounds like a big number at first, but think about all the things you use an app for on any given day:

  • email
  • messaging
  • collaboration
  • project management
  • video calls

And this is only the beginning of an ever-expanding list. Don’t get me wrong, I understand – the truth is, we all want to make our jobs easier and we use tools to do that. For example, to finish this blog post, I used four different tools, each one with a different purpose. One to keep an eye on my text flow, one to check for plagiarism, one to make sure it’s optimized, and another one so my colleagues can see what I’m up to. But where is the line between convenience and time-wasting?

Benefits of using the right tool for the job

Apps and tools aren’t a new concept in the workplace. They’ve been present for years in office environments, but their popularity isn’t diminishing. Now that remote work has become an acceptable model for a lot of companies, it seems that there is an app for everything. That’s not surprising since there are several ways the right tools can improve the workplace:

  • communication is easier
  • employees are more productive
  • workflow gaps can be bridged easily

Yet, there are many organizations that struggle with using software to their advantage. The thing is, just because you can have a separate app for every task doesn’t mean you should. Here’s why you should think twice before investing in another tool.

Why using too many tools is bad for your business

Using one collaboration tool improved your team’s performance, so adding two or three more will only make it better, right? Well, not exactly. Think about the first time you implemented a new tool in your company. How long did it take before every employee got used to it and started using it the right way? If your company is like most, some of your less tech-savvy employees still don’t make the best out of the software.

Aside from the obvious human factor that goes into it, consider the monetary resources: more tools equals more expenses. In the case of apps that serve the same purpose, those expenses are unnecessary. Think about it – if you already own a fridge, you won’t buy a newer model and keep using both. The same logic should apply to the software you implement in your organization. Not convinced? Read on and find out what consequences arise from using too many tools on a daily basis.

1. It’s a waste of money

I’m not saying you should stop using all the tools and start living off the grid. The truth is, software is usually made to solve a specific problem. That means that each tool your company uses helps a different department do their jobs better. From accounting, marketing, and development to SEO, each team will need a different tool to be more efficient. If you consider the cost of all those tools in a one-year period, chances are the amount will shock you.

But there’s more to software pricing than what’s stated on your monthly invoice. Introducing a new tool also takes setup and time to be fully implemented. Your IT department needs to import all the relevant data, invite team members, and show them how the tool works. After that, all of your employees have to spend time getting used to the new software. When all is said and done, you end up paying more in hidden costs than the initial price of the tool. That’s why you should think long and hard about the right solution for your business. If you choose correctly the first time around, you won’t have to change tools up every few months.

2. Your team gets stressed out

Using more apps in your day-to-day workflow means having to constantly multitask. If your employees spend more time switching tabs and logging into tools than focusing on their core jobs, you need to think about your processes. Take collaboration platforms for an example. When companies decide to make them a part of their internal processes, the idea is to create a more productive working environment. Collaboration platforms make it easier for your team to exchange ideas and information. But what if you’re using more than one?

Most organizations today use company-wide and department-specific tools for team collaboration. The number of systems used simultaneously can easily go up to 20 per person. However, the more, the merrier isn’t what should be happening when it comes to apps. Besides learning the ins and outs of a new tool, consistency problems are also bound to happen.

For example, sharing files via email, Slack, and Google Drive is not efficient. It creates confusion and results in employees having to search for a document before they can focus on their strengths. Another time-waster worth mentioning are video conferencing platforms. Is the meeting happening on Zoom, Google Meet or Slack? Nobody knows anymore, so they’ll have to constantly check their calendars and switch between systems.

As you can see, using redundant tools creates more frustration than productivity. Not to mention all the usernames and passwords your team has to create and remember, which brings me to my next point.

3. You risk more security issues

Have you ever thought about how many login credentials are floating around your brain? Or maybe you’re like most people and you save them in your browser. Even better, you might use a secure app for storing them. If the latter is the case, I regret to inform you that you’re the minority. The thing is, most people would rather have fewer passwords than use yet another app. How sure are you that everyone in your company is storing their passwords securely?

As tempting as it may be, we all know that using the same password for multiple accounts is not a great idea. This in turn results in having way too many things to remember – even for the accounts we don’t use every day. Do you even know how many login credentials you have? I have 67, but I’m not app-shy, so that’s not surprising. Now, I don’t remember all of them and choose to store them securely, but most people simply write them down on a piece of paper. But if your average employee has to remember 15 passwords for personal use and another 15 for work, can you blame them?

For security purposes, company-issued passwords are a thing of the past. Nowadays, virtually every platform you use will require your employees to set up their own. A study has shown that most people will choose a short password rather than one that’s hard to remember. And yes, I am aware that websites now warn you if your password is weak, but most will still let you use it. And if an average person needs to choose a long, securely generated password? You’ve guessed it – it’s going to get written down. No matter if it’s an Excel sheet, a post-it or an old-fashioned notebook, it’s still a security risk.

4. Internal processes are more difficult

Wouldn’t it be nice to use one tool for everything and have all the information on one screen? Unfortunately, that’s rarely an option. But when it comes to your company’s performance, gathering all the necessary data is crucial if you want to have a clear overview. Implementing too many tools makes that job harder than it needs to be.

Even though you put your clients first (and rightfully so), you should still have access to reliable data. Informative reports and metrics are what helps you monitor key performance indicators. By having access to this information, you can see where your company is now and where you can take it in the future.

But if you use a whole heap of tools, the process of gathering data turns into a pain in the neck. Your options are:

  1. investing in a more expensive tool that will maybe gather the information for you
  2. spending hours hunting the information down yourself

The worst thing about it? All that time and resources you spent on data collection could have been used for strategic planning.

5. Too many tools result in less productivity

I know what you’re thinking – at first glance this statement makes no sense. After all, we use tools to be faster, better, and more productive, so how can they do the opposite? It’s simple – instead of using more tools with the same end goal, you need to find the best fit. This means there will be less time wasted on switching between systems and more time spent on the actual work.

And if you’re clinging onto software only because you think your team likes it, you can rest easy. A whopping 70% of employees said they didn’t care about which tool it is, as long as it gets the job done. So, now that you know what happens when you go all out and get all the tools, let’s see how to avoid it.

How you can stop the tool madness in your company

At this point, you’ve already admitted to yourself that you have a problem. Congratulations, but now there’s more work to do. Here are some easy steps you can take to minimize the number of tools and maximize productivity:

  1. Find the sharpest tools in the shed. Ask your team to tell you what apps they need and get rid of everything else.
  2. Don’t fix what isn’t broken. Just because there’s a newer tool on the market doesn’t mean your current one isn’t working. Before making the decision to get a brand new tool, list your company’s needs. This will help you be realistic about the benefits and drawbacks.
  3. Integrate, integrate, integrate. Even though it seems redundant to say, you should link all the tools you can to each other. That way, you’re getting a better information flow and more productivity. When deciding on a new tool, check whether it integrates with the ones you already use. And if it doesn’t, make sure it’s worth it.

Final thoughts

With the amount of tools available today, it’s easy to get carried away and want to try them all out. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting progress, you need to take the overall impact on your company into account. If you’re signing up for yet another tool, but aren’t sure if it will cause more harm than good, take time to think about it. In the end, using the right software is much more beneficial than using all of the software.