written by
Zack Calloway

Too Much Productivity? App Overload Is Hurting, Not Helping

Productivity 3 min read
Is app overload slowing down your team?

In today’s business landscape we’re all obsessed with productivity. And that’s a good thing, in theory: getting more done in less time is one of the factors that drives progress at every level, and it can help you get ahead of your competition.

But is there such a thing as too much productivity? We say yes.

We’ve seen this over the past few years with employee burnout: especially in the digital or knowledge economy, it’s possible to push people too far. Their bodies can keep working, but their brains have hit max capacity.

And there’s another way we see this problem showing up: too many “productivity” apps.

We’re Using Too Many Apps

Go to the website for any business software or app you like, and search for the word “productivity.” With almost no exceptions, you’ll always find it. Every single app on the internet promises to make your team more productive.

And there’s a sense in which it’s true: if your team is currently doing business out of paper notebooks or on typewriters, then sure, any and every app will be a step forward.

Here’s the problem: while every app individually promises productivity gains compared to “the old way of doing things,” not all of these apps work together very well. Lots of them have overlapping functionality, and teams end up using one app for one thing and another for something else — even though both can do both!

So in the pursuit of finding the perfect app for every business function, many businesses have created a patchwork of apps that gets so complicated it starts to work against them.

How many are we talking? Well, one recent report found that the average company was using more than 250 SaaS applications. That’s a lot of app switching!

Even worse, only about 45% of those apps were even being regularly used. That means businesses are in some cases paying for subscription-based apps that they aren’t getting any value at all from!

How App Overload Hurts

Let’s think about how this app overload can hurt your business’s productivity.

Let’s say you need to communicate some information to an employee. What’s the best way to do it?

You’re probably thinking “that’s a silly question, it depends.” And you’re right, it does. But still, you’ve got a decision to make. Will you:

  • Call
  • Text
  • Slack
  • Email
  • Teams message
  • Video chat (if so, which of the 7 apps you have access to should you use?)
  • Walk over to their desk
  • Use project management software (like Asana or Trello or Teamwork.com)
  • Use the internal messaging feature of another half-dozen tools you have access to

This isn’t even a complicated scenario; you just need a simple answer for a simple question from a single employee, and you have to go through this crazy decision-making matrix to figure out how to do it.

Now add in the actual complexities of business: Sam in accounting needs a specific piece of information from sales, and she doesn’t know which app or service the data lives in. Kara in sales knows where that information lives, but misses Sam’s chat message. When she finally finds it later, she isn’t sure which way Sam expects to receive that piece of information. Kara sends it using a service Sam doesn’t really pay attention to, and now it’s a week later and Sam has forgotten about the task that led to needing the information in the first place!

If this scenario sounds familiar, then it’s probably happening dozens of times every single day. Imagine the total lost productivity across all employees in the course of a year!

It’s Time for a Strategic Approach to App Use

App overload is everywhere, and it’s not something you can fix overnight. But taking a step back and thinking through a strategic approach to how your business uses apps can make a night-and-day difference.

We do this for businesses all the time, and we’re happy to help you, too. Call or email us today!