Don't Fall Back on a Failing Tool Stack
Every company has an ongoing fight with efficiency — but if the pressure has seemed to ramp up on finding ways to cut costs over the past 6 or so months, you’re not alone. When facing an economic downturn, prudent organizations will look to maintain, if not profitability, then at least runway. What that looks like varies from company to company, but it often includes things like reevaluating staffing levels, pivoting products, lowering ad spend, and cutting back on tool investments.
In practice, that last item can mean doubling down on existing tech solutions instead of trying new ones. This can be due to grandfathered pricing structures, familiarity with existing solutions, or just a hesitance to try something unproven. But when it comes to efficiency of overall spend, take some time to dig into whether your current stack is actually helping your company to achieve its goals or if it’s time to try something new. Let’s dig into how to figure out which path is right for you.
Lower spend vs better ROI
Whether we’re talking about governments, companies, or your average household, when dealing with money, it’s tempting to focus on total spend. As a personal example here, way back in the early 2000s, my parents hung on to a cell service plan that excluded voicemail and had astronomical roaming rates on all calls initiated outside of New Jersey because they had a grandfathered pricing plan that was lower than anything our provider at the time offered. As both a resident of upstate New York at the time and a participant in their plan, this effectively meant I could use my phone for one reason only: to spend 30 seconds telling my parents I was on a train home.
When we looked into the pricing plan, the savings were something like $20/month on the base, but new roaming rates (and zero cost for voicemail) made the new plan a significantly better investment. In business terms, we’d say that a slightly higher spend gave us a much higher ROI.
Companies fall into this same trap all the time by focusing strictly on cost instead of return on investment. If, for instance, you’ve invested in Atlassian’s suite of products and Confluence gets thrown in at no extra cost, it might be tempting to say, “Hey, we’re gonna make do with this.” But if no one uses it because it’s difficult to find what you need, your knowledge management needs are actually going completely unmet.
When that happens, you’ve opened up your company to everything from internal confusion (no one knows the newest org structure or finance processes) to reputational damage (customer service takes too long to answer questions or gives wrong information) to security risks (no one knows the latest phishing protocols).
So ask yourself that timeless question: Do you want to be able to make calls outside of New Jersey or do you want to save $20/month?
Growth lost from inefficiency vs change
Look, change is hard, scary, and time-consuming; there’s no arguing that. (Luckily, we have some great resources to help you out there.) But it also makes it easy to say, “We simply can’t interrupt business with training on a new tool right now,” — as though there’s ever a right time.
But what often goes unconsidered here is how much time is being lost due to inefficient processes caused by your current tools. Last year we published a piece on how to do a comprehensive audit of your tech stack for better efficiency, but it’s critical to examine the why behind doing such an audit.
Not only can you discover that you’re paying for seats that you never used (hey, found money! We love that for you!), but you can really dig into what employees have to deal with in order to make the existing tech stack function in a way that truly benefits them. You’ll almost certainly discover workarounds that take time to use (and more time to train), or lack of functionality that caused you to have to invest in a supplementary tool to make the first one work better.
Inertia is deadly for any company. It’s your biggest competitor and your biggest internal blocker. Being willing to shake things up and interrupt growth short term can mean preventing a much longer-term decline in goal achievement.
Making the choice
None of this is to suggest that newer is always better. There are material impacts on growth that come with any business interruption — and that’s what we’re really talking about here. If your business can’t weather any kind of interruption right now, solving for the short term is absolutely necessary and the right move.
But if you’re lucky enough to be in a position to think beyond the next quarter, build the short-term cost inefficiency that inevitably comes with change into your forecasts and start diving into software evaluations now, and commit to change as a leadership team. Making the choice will be the most difficult part, but don’t worry; it’s also the shortest.