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How productivity apps kill productivity and ruin your wallet

April 27, 2020

How productivity apps kill productivity and ruin your wallet

Most companies are always on the lookout to save money. Especially now as many of them are under some form of lockdown and the world economy heads toward a depression, finding cost savings is critical. How can yet another productivity app help save you some money then? Let's take a look at the problem of context switching.

Projects are the lifeblood of most businesses

So let's see how this works today:

You're working on a project, start chatting about it in Slack, then realize you have a bunch of tasks, so you create a Trello board and add some cards. Your teammates start commenting on the tasks in Trello, so now your conversation is split into two locations. One of your deliverables is a project budget. That goes into Dropbox, where more discussions take place. At some point, someone urgently needs an update, so posts the Excel sheet in Slack (or worse in email). Then at your weekly meeting in Zoom, a big discussion takes place in Zoom's chat. Of course, someone else posted the Powerpoint presentation on a Trello card. Or was that in Slack? Or Dropbox. Who posted the meeting notes, and where? Where were the decisions captured?

We call it "App Overload"

That's a cute marketing term, right? (Which already have some 86 millions of Google results, btw)

Conversations in multiple places, files in various places, tasks with events in two other locations. What a mess! Keeping track of all this can strain the most organized of minds, and honestly, most of us aren't.

This example illustrates a broad class of problems associated with multi-tasking called context switching.

Lesson learned from the world of computers

Today, we just take for granted that computers can multi-task - watch a video and write a Slack message at the same time. Magic, right? Not really. Your computer isn't doing more things at the same time; it just keeps switching back and forth between tasks many times per second. It's called context switching in computer science. And it is very "expensive." Your computer spends a great deal of time just switching before it can even do any of the work in each of the tasks.

What the brain has to say about it

I'm not a scientist, but I can share with you years of personal observation. For human beings, this problem is much worse and much more expensive in terms of lost productivity. Figuring out where is the latest version of the file, who made that critical point in which app, etc. wastes an enormous amount of time. Worse, by forcing human beings to build these mental maps of their work, errors occur frequently, and institutional knowledge is never captured or preserved. The mental challenge creates stress and leads to friction in your teams. It reminds me of the false but curiously compelling parable of boiling frogs

Only in this case, we are frogs in this heating-up collaborative mess we've gotten ourselves into with all these tools!

These productivity costs are real, substantial, and with work going remote and distributed, it is only getting worse. Unless you use Samepage!

Loss of productivity is a hidden fee, but there's also a more specific one

There is another cost I really wanted to address in this blog post - the very real and considerable financial costs associated with using these tools. Perhaps without even paying attention, most businesses now subscribe to several or more of these tools, potentially resulting in very high monthly costs. Why are you paying for several different products with overlapping and duplicative features?

  • Slack is primarily about chat, but you can also store files and make calls.
  • Trello or Asana manage your tasks and have some basic conversational and file elements.
  • Zoom has the conferencing, and some limited chat and survey tools.
  • Dropbox supports your files, and you can do some conversational things there as well.

If you add this up, you'll see it comes out to a lot of money per year. Let's do some math! Let's say you are a 30 person company.

Slack's Standard plan is $6.67/user/month

Trello's basic Business Class plan is $9.99/user/month

Zoom's pricing is complicated, so you use some combination of Free and Pro. Let's say you've got 5 host accounts @$14.99/host/month. Your other 25 employees try to make do with Free.

Dropbox Business Standard is $12.50/user/month

Just wow.

Holy Grail of Collaboration - Lower costs and higher productivity

We are all frogs in nearly boiling water now. The first ones to jump out and do things differently will benefit from significant improvements in their competitive advantage. In good times, this is important. In hard times, it can be the determining factor in survival.

80% of the world is currently under some form of lockdown. Unemployment across the world is skyrocketing. We are all hoping that testing, therapeutics, and eventually, a vaccine will lead us out of this COVID-19 crisis soon. However, the likelihood is we will experience Great Depression levels of unemployment, economic contraction, and human anguish. Those who adapt the fastest are the most likely to survive the crisis and thrive as it passes.

Samepage's revolutionary all-in-one platform philosophy can help your business achieve the holy grail of collaborative technologies - lower costs, higher productivity, and much greater employee satisfaction. Samepage eliminates the duplication and functional overlap amongst the tools you are currently using, saving you money. In doing so, we create a much more pleasant, effective, and efficient user experience for your employees, customers, partners, etc. Samepage cuts out what you don't need and only gives you what you do need.

"Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful" - Warren Buffet

This saying is a bit stark and perhaps slightly inappropriate in our current situation, but there is some truth here. Contrarian views often help to survive crises. When there is panic and fear, most people and companies tend to become paralyzed. Those with the courage to embrace change often emerge stronger. We look forward to helping you survive and thrive!

Scott R. Schreiman
CEO & Founder