Making the Most of Your Current Tech
This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Click here to read Part 1, which is all about deciding whether you need new hardware. In Part 2, we’ll focus on software.
We all have a bad habit of grabbing the wrong solutions to our problems.
Let’s say you’re having a terrible day. Your boss just rejected your big idea—again—and the kids are fighting nonstop. Rather than talking to your boss, or your kids, you order pizza for dinner, because … fill in the story here: You’re exhausted … you just can’t face cooking … you deserve a break, etc.
Sure, you DO deserve a break.
But the momentary rush from the carbs and the grease is short-lived. And when you’re done eating, your problems are still right where you left them—and now your body feels like crap, too.
Maybe your version of “pizza” is online shopping, binge-watching Netflix, or any number of quick-fixes that temporarily boost your mood. Technology falls into this “misplaced solution” category too, if we aren’t careful.
Phone not working the way you want it to? Why spend time troubleshooting when you can upgrade to the newer, sexier version?
Microsoft Word giving you a headache? Go find a more expensive software that won’t have any of the same problems … or so you think.
In Part 1 of this series, I shared the three key questions to ask before you replace your old hardware with something new. Well—surprise! The same rules apply to software, too.
If you’ve decided that, yes, new technology really IS the solution for you—or could be—here’s how to make the most of what you’ve got in the meantime.
Who knows? You might find that you already have what you need, after all.
RETURN TO THE CORE PROBLEM
I can’t stress this enough. [bctt tweet="When you’re shopping for anything, you should be looking to solve a problem." username="@andrewjmellen"] Even if that problem is, “I need more accessories for my Joe Exotic Halloween costume.”
Make sure you clearly define the problem before you shop. And be real with yourself about whether the thing you want to buy will solve it.
Let’s go back to our Word example. If your office is still running Windows 95, you’d be hard-pressed to find a problem that a software upgrade wouldn’t fix.
But more likely, your problem is something like: it feels slow, or it doesn’t have the shiny new digital pen feature, or this dancing paper clip is driving me crazy.
It’s time for a gut check. Will an upgraded version of Word, or a fancier—and more expensive—word processing program really make a dent in THAT problem?
When software “feels slow,” the underlying cause often isn’t related to the program at all. How often do you restart your machine, for one thing? Run a cleanup of your hard drive, check whether your computer can even run a faster program, or test drive the Maserati version of your current software elsewhere, before you commit.
New features always sound great. Why would we want to use software that doesn’t do everything it can? But will you really USE that feature, or does it just SOUND good?
Okay. So you’ve verified that, yes, your software really IS a bit slow. Or you know that you WILL use that shiny new feature.
The next step is to take stock of what that means, in real time and in real dollars.
Software gets expensive, fast. Especially if you’re running a business. Major software, like a high-functionality CRM, can cost a large organization thousands of dollars per month. Not exactly chump change.
Go through the exercise of putting a dollar value on the benefit of an upgrade. If your current CRM—or lack thereof—means that leads are falling through the cracks and sales are being lost, new software has a very tangible value. Maybe you’ve maxed out your current list and are considering an upgrade to the next tier. If you know your conversion rate, calculate the revenue increase you’d see with a larger list.
Can you put a number on the difference a new program will make as compared to the one you have now?
If the cost outweighs the benefit, you have your answer right there.
And remember—upgrading your software won’t mean more revenue by itself. Do you have the team and processes in place to make good use of a larger list? If not, your investment will fall flat.
If it’s close, get creative. It’s easy to get used to tossing out the old in favor of the new, but finding creative ways to work with what you have is harder.
And more valuable.
Could a change in process accomplish the same goal as the shiny new feature? If it’s simply a matter of re-training your team to better use the software you have—training you’d have to do with new software, too—it could well be worth your time.
Likewise, is being diligent about your process something to share with your colleagues or family? Does this give you a chance to demonstrate your values in action?
By moving slowly and deliberately, you get to demonstrate your commitment to walking your talk, which may even add value to the process.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Google it. I’m not kidding about this.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen clients ready to kick perfectly good tech to the curb because of a problem “it” has, only to find through a Google search that there’s actually a fix.
Or that the tech wasn’t the problem in the first place.
If you’ve gone through every stage: asking yourself the 3 questions, coming back to the problem, getting creative, and doing your research, and you STILL find that investing in new tech is the right solution for you … buy it.
I’m not here to talk you out of investing in the right technology for you.
I’m here to encourage you to pause before you click “add to cart,” and to make sure that you’re really bringing the right things into your life. Making a mindful purchase of technology that provides value is a hell of a lot different than buying something new the second you hit a wall.
Action, not REaction.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The best productivity software in the world won’t get you organized. The best phone camera won’t turn you into a celebrated photographer, or even an Instagram celebrity.[bctt tweet="Software—and tech in general—is only as good as our ability to use it well." username="@andrewjmellen"]Stretch what you have as far as you can. At the very least, it’s a great exercise in creativity.
And if you DO decide to make a purchase, do so with intention. Make sure you understand the problem you’re solving, and that you have the right solution.
Your digital space needs decluttering, too. Join our Mastering Your Digital Life Masterclass. We’ll teach you how to conquer your digital woes in just 90 minutes.