why do you need that tool

Why do you need that tool? [PMP #266]

When you come across a new tool or piece of software, it’s easy to sign up for a free trial only to waste a bunch of time after you later realise you don’t actually need the thing you signed up for.

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Having talked to hundreds of business owners over the years, I’ve heard the same story many times with respect to Asana and Pipedrive. It usually goes something like this:

“We signed up for Asana about a year ago. Most of the team like it but we’re not using it very well. Some people on the team aren’t using it at all. We know we can do a lot more with it if we learned how to use it”

If you’re a business owner looking to adopt a new project management system, or a solo-operator interested in a new screen recording app, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions before you sign up to a new tool:

Why do I need it?

It sounds basic but most people don’t consider why they need the tool in the first place. Maybe they signed up because it looked interesting. Or maybe the business owner has some idea but they haven’t communicated this to the team.

It’s important that you or your team understand why you’re using a particular tool and what problem you’re trying to solve, otherwise it just feels like “one more thing” that the boss is asking you to use.

For example, the reason to adopt a tool like Asana is to improve the visibility of the teams work so everyone can see who’s doing what and when. Again, it sounds obvious but if you don’t explain to the team how it’s going to make their life easier (by reducing meetings or miscommunication on projects) then they’re not going to feel that motivated to use it.

Can I do what I need some other way?

Before you sign up for a new tool, you should consider if what you’d like to achieve is possible using an existing tool that you already use. Why pay for two things if one will do the job, right?

Clients often as me the question:

“Can I use Pipedrive for sales and project management?”

It’s a good question to ask. Even though Pipedrive isn’t nearly as powerful as Asana for project management, If you can keep more of your process in one tool, it’s a lot easier.

For a situation like this, you have to refer back to why you’re using the tool in the first place. I’ll often say to clients, if you have a fairly simple project management workflow, then Pipedrive will do just fine. But if the reason for using the tool is to plan goals or manage internal resources, then Asana would be a better fit.

When making a decision between two alternatives, it’s important to ask yourself whether it’s worth going through the learning curve and whether the extra efficiency or money that you’ll make using the tool will justify the cost.

How much time is it going to save me?

Most of the tools and apps we use because they’ll help us to save time or make more money.

I use Asana because it helps me to manage my work more efficiently compared to using a notebook or email alone.

I use Pipedrive because it helps me to manage my sales opportunities and close more deals compared to using a basic spreadsheet.

I use an app called CleanShot (part of my Setapp subscription) to record screencast videos to send to customers. Sending someone a video is a great way of answering a question visually. I considered whether I could simply use Quicktime, which comes free on my Mac or Screenflow, which I use to make my YouTube and online course videos. But in both cases, I concluded that it would be more efficient to use CleanShot as it makes it a lot easier to upload and share the video compared to my alternatives.

When I look at an app like CleanShot, which costs me $96 per year ($8 per month) it’s a no-brainer. For $8 a month I get access to an easy-to-use app that I’ll use hundreds of times to share personal videos with clients. If it makes me just a little more efficient compared to one of the alternative options, it’s worth it!

Who is going to “champion” this tool?

For the more ‘serious’ tools you use in your business, like a project management tool or sales CRM, in order for them to be successfully used and adopted, I believe you need to have a ‘champion’.

For example, with Asana, the Asana Champion (or Chief Asana Officer as I like to call them) is the person on the team who is responsible for its success. They’re someone who should have a deep understanding of the tool and they’re someone who can help to reinforce best practices and help onboard new team members.

When you don't identify a champion, this is when you end up in a situation like I said in the beginning where you have this sort of half-adoption of the tool. Some people use it, other people don’t. And usage generally fizzles out over time.

Having a champion for the tool means it’s more likely to be used properly and adopted successfully by the team.