How to Effectively Use Tech in Your Business

In a world of endless SaaS and web apps, it’s easy to have dozens of apps powering your business that may start to overlap. It’s easy to jump from one great tool, to the next, newest great tool. Let’s talk about how to leverage tech in a way that really helps your team and when you should start looking at a custom solution.

Full Transcript Below:

Cris:

We’ve used Assembla. We’ve used — We’ve used Basecamp. Name any of them and we’ve used them.

Andrew:

Certainly there’s the it’s new, it’s hot, it’s exciting. That’s definitely a thing.

Cris:

What causes this application sprawl, so to speak?

Andrew:

Maybe a new program that came out just solves your problem really well, or solves a particular problem that you have really well?

Cris:

So today we’re going to be talking about a topic, basically, tech and tools that you use within tech. So applications, things of that sort, and how to effectively use apps within your business. So what are some of the apps that we currently, Andrew, are using here at Bixly to help us be successful as a business?

Andrew:

There’s so many.

Cris:

There’s so many. It’s a myriad of them.

Andrew:

Just off the top of my head, we use Slack all the time. Jira, Trello, Century, Bamboo for HR. We have password managers. There’s a lot of them.

Cris:

Got you. And I think most of those people are probably aware, but just to clarify, what is slack utilized for mostly and Jira and so on and so forth.

Andrew:

Yeah, so we used Slack for all of our inner-office chat and some of our chatting with clients< we use Google meet a lot to do video conferencing with clients. We use Century to report on bugs and detect bugs in applications that are out in the wild. We use Bamboos as our HR program. We have a password manager. Yeah. There’s a lot of different functions. We use a lot of software apps.

Cris:

What’s your thought on consistently sticking with a particular suite of tools versus adapting more to the client’s needs and what they’re using. What are your thoughts on that?

Andrew:

Most clients don’t have a strong opinion too, about tools I found. There are some where maybe they’ve been doing programming in-house, they have their own development team of eight developers and they’re contracting with two of our developers, and they don’t want to completely switch their tool. That makes sense. That’s a compelling case to me. But in many cases that’s not the scenario. They just don’t have something or don’t use anything consistently kind of thing. So we help show them best practices.

Cris:

Yeah. So for us, in particular, and back to what I was mentioning when I was doing project management and businesses in general and how applications work well within the business, your apps that you’re using and your programs that you’re using should obviously support you as the company in being able to reach the goal of what you’re trying to do for your customer or the product you’re selling, so on and so forth. And we’ve changed a few times over the years with project management, specifically. We’ve used our own in-house track instance, back in the day.

Andrew:

One that you guys wrote that?

Cris:

One that we literally wrote, because at the time you literally had to self-host track. Now, they have a cloud-based track version. But, specifically, we wrote it, hosted it ourselves. We’ve used Assembla. We’ve used Jira. We’ve used Basecamp. Name any of them and we’ve used them over the years. And we found that there was a bit of a pivot shift every time a new customer came in, they would just come in with the new, hot tool and we’d be like, “Oh, let’s use that.”

Andrew:

Okay. Bring you the hotness?

Cris:

Yeah. The new hotness. Let’s use that. And I would argue that that’s not the best interest of your business to just go with the hotness, as we will call it whenever it comes in. You do want to ensure that is helping you reach the need of your client if you’re like us in a service-style industry, or pushing your product forward if, of course, you’re doing something more e-commerce and you have that. And figuring out how the app can best support what you’re trying to sell or who you’re trying to provide for is extremely important and you need to have that compelling reason of why you change it. Without a compelling reason, it just doesn’t make sense to just go with the hotness over and over and over. So I’m not obviously doing all the talking, why do you think customers do jump on board with new applications or the changing winds of time? What causes this application sprawl, so to speak?

Andrew:

Certainly there’s the it’s new, it’s hot, it’s exciting. That’s definitely a thing. Another one is just maybe they’ve got a great free tier. I know with Asana in the past, it’s like, “Wow, how is this free?” Because it did so much, it was very cute and pleasant to use. It was very affordable. And so maybe they’ve got a great free tier. But as you grow, is it still going to be free? Probably not. So it’s short-sighted to get locked into that. Maybe a new program that came out just solves your problem really well, or solves a particular problem that you have really well, and so you gravitate towards that. Any number of reasons, but there’s always something that’s attractive about the new thing. And it’s usually largely because it’s new and people want to try it out.

Cris:

People want to try it out?

Andrew:

And it’s so easy to sign up for. The sign ups free, you just go in there. They do a good job of making it very low friction in most cases.

Cris:

And I’m thinking not that having free tools is a bad thing and that could actually be a pivot and a drive for your company. You’re a new business starting out. And that could be a big decision-making. It’s literally budget. We can’t afford, from a budget standpoint ,to just go pay for the large enterprise level suite of this communication tool, and this management tool, and this hosting tool, and so on and so forth. So you do actually base your company around what’s free and still has the tools that I need. And in that way, that actually is products and apps supporting your business model. But as you grow over time, and one thing that we found as we were growing over time, we moved out of that free-tier level and that didn’t have to necessarily be the driving decision anymore. And so we had to be cognizant of that. But if a business isn’t, they may find themselves trying to provide enterprise-level business with non-enterprise level tools.

Andrew:

Yeah. The tools can’t really support them at that level. Yeah.

Cris:

Yeah. So I’m touching on it already, but what are some of the smart decisions about tech and what you should do to keep certain tools in place, or just get rid of tools? What are some of your thoughts on those decisions that go into why or why not you would use a particular tool?

Andrew:

Yeah. I think it makes sense to audit the tools that you’re using at least annually. Look at your bank statement, see what all your subscriptions are. Who’s using this tool? How often are they really using it? And really look for opportunities to consolidate. And also what tools are being used effectively. If there’s one or two people using something, but it’s not of that great a value, it’s probably time to move them over. So I would really look at, obviously, cost is a factor, but what tools are allowing you to effectively communicate with your customers in that manner, and really just gravitate towards those tools. Requiring people to change is always uncomfortable. We even see that with Mac versus Linux versus Windows and all those things. But having people sprawled out a bunch of across a bunch of different technologies, it ultimately makes it a lot more overhead and work, especially for CIS admins. So it’s worth it to, to try to consolidate regularly.

Cris:

Yeah. There’s obviously a bunch of great out-of-the-box tools, solutions, apps that can help your business, but at some point you might actually find your business hitting that point where there really isn’t an out-of-the-box solution anymore. There might be some sort of a custom tool that you need to actually build to keep productivity going along. How does that come into play? What do you think leads towards that decision?

Andrew:

Yeah, so a big indicator of that is that you need a custom solution is when you’re essentially clooging together all these different solutions. So maybe you’re using Google Docs for this part of it, and then you’re using Gmail for that part, and then you’re using, I don’t know, but just a bunch of different solutions that you’ve sort of pieced together to ultimately solve this problem. But it’s not streamlined, it’s very disconnected, it’s hard to manage, but you’re solving a real problem that matters. And so at that point, it’s really time to look at something custom that would, I keep throwing this out, a perfect-fit solution. Something that doesn’t 70% solve your problem. It exactly solves your problem and allows you to do it efficiently in a very streamlined manner.

Andrew:

And also that you’ve got the budget to invest into something like that. The time and the budget, because it is going to be a significant investment. But once you’re solving that problem well and you know that that problem is real. And also that there’s revenue behind that. That’s a good time to start researching custom solution.

Cris:

I think we covered this pretty well.

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. I hope you enjoyed our conversation around how to really use your technology in your business to help you be productive, to really help you support your team. If you have any questions about what we talked about today, go ahead and leave those in the comment section down below. In addition, you can find a link to our free custom software guide in the description to this video, and that will help you plan out your next project. You can also find a link to our website, bixly.com, where if you click that free app validation button at the top, you will get an hour free with Cris to talk about your next app idea. Until next time, this has been a Bixly Tech Tuesday.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on May 18, 2021.

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