When staff ask for new tools, take the time to assess the tool’s impact on your operations and culture. In this post, we list the questions to ask before you add a new tool to your staff’s toolkit.
Do you have a tool problem?
If you think you have a tool problem, you probably do. When tools don’t go through a thorough vetting and implementation process, staff become frustrated and confused. The number of apps and platforms they have to learn, use, and keep track of can be overwhelming.
In client surveys, staff tell us they use five tools for sharing and collaboration: MS Teams, MS SharePoint, MS Outlook, Zoom, and MS OneDrive. Other tools go unused because no one clearly defined and articulated a use case. No one showed them how the new tool makes their job easier than their current tool. Why leave the comfort of the tool they know?
Is this a duplicate?
Try this: sit down and list all the tools your staff uses. Chances are, if it isn’t top of mind–you personally don’t use it. This may mean others don’t either. Pro tip: If your list goes to a second page, you have too many tools. 😊
See which tools do the same thing. Do you need Sharepoint and Dropbox? Teams and Slack? Keep in mind, there may be cases where you do need similar systems, but often, this is the best place to look for extraneous tools.
Can we sunset a current tool?
Create a process to free up mental and technical space in your tool closet. Before you add new tool, retire old ones. Start by questioning the tools that didn’t make the list you made.
Do we have shadow tools or systems?
You likely have more tools than you realize. Most organizations have people or departments that keep ‘their’ information in a separate ‘shadow’ system.
Shadow systems occur when staff:
- Feel others are gatekeeping information,
- Mistrust the information in the official database,
- Don’t know how to use the “enterprise” tool,
- Can’t access an “enterprise” tool, or
- Believe the current tool is outdated
They solve these problems by creating ‘their’ system, thinking it’s more modern, intuitive, and useful than the official system. They use free software that can “replace” software the organization will not pay for and doesn’t require waiting around for IT approval. This rogue behavior leads to duplicated data, security holes, and hidden costs.
Want to uncover these systems? Declare tool amnesty. Find out what people are using to get their work done. Encourage IT to be problem solvers, not compliance enforcers. You want staff to look to IT for solutions rather than going rogue.
Can we match the new tool to a use case or workflow?
Make sure tools are solving the right problems. People turn to apps and platforms as a quick fix to solve problems that are really about bigger issues: workflows, communication, culture, and management.
Talk regularly with departments about their workflow challenges. Does the new tool address these workflow challenges? If not, remind people about the tools in place to help them do their job and achieve their goals more efficiently. Provide continual and ongoing training and support on these tools. Create user groups so employees can help each other and share their favorite hacks and shortcuts.
What is the tool’s purpose?
You can’t add new tools (and retire old ones) without some intention behind these decisions.
You have a case for change if:
- A tool no longer serves its original purpose or meets users’ needs,
- Users agree on the need for a new one,
- It solves your organizational challenges (e.g., workflows, efficiencies, or visibility)
- The replacement tool meets functional requirements
It’s rare to find one tool that makes everyone happy. Talk about the inevitable need for trade-offs and compromises. Throughout the implementation process—which we’ll discuss in our next post—continue to sell the purpose of this new tool: why it was chosen, who chose it, and how it solves challenges specific to your organization.
Struggling with matching tools to purpose and workflows and avoiding shadow systems? Let our team help with a tech assessment.