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It's Not About the Tool, It's About the Workflow

Sometimes that great new tool is best left unadopted.

By
Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #493

Before adopting a new tool, ask yourself seriously whether the advantages of the new tool are really worth the cost to switch.

Tools Don’t Last Forever—Especially New Ones

Wait…hold the presses! The company that makes the augmented reality headset proudly announce that they’ve been acquired by MickyFaceInstaAppleSoft, and they’re shutting the company down so they can work on important projects, like better surveillance and profiling of you, their product. Er, I mean, their customer. Their headset is being discontinued, effective immediately. The self-destruct codes have already been transmitted.

When you integrate a tool into your workflow, you’re making it an essential part of your ability to get things done.

You see, when you integrate a tool into your workflow, you’re making it an essential part of your ability to get things done. Kind of like grafting on a third arm to become 50% more productive. 

But, like third arms, tools don’t last forever. Some of them succeed, and become stable enough that you can count on them. Others fail, or get acquired and shut down. Still others develop gangrene and may need to be amputated. And when they go away, your critical workflows just might go with them.

Before you adopt a tool, make sure there’s a way to get your data out of the tool if it gets discontinued, and think through how you’ll get back up and running in that event.

Backup Backup Backup

Which reminds me…make backups of the data you store in the cloud. Last week I was working on a project using a cloud service that lets me share files across several devices. The cloud server’s automatic scan program erroneously decided my files violated their terms of service in some completely unspecified way. So they automatically shut off my account, with no notice, leaving me suddenly without access to about 1Tb of video files I was actively working on.

Ask if the advantages are worth the switching cost.

Just as Melvin’s headset is starting to spark and emit a decidedly unpleasant burning smell, your cloud service could cut you off without warning, with no clear way to restore your data. In my case, they restored my account after eight hours of calls to tech support. But if they hadn’t, I would have lost everything.

Don’t trust the cloud. Make backups of everything.

Melvin just started firing up his old inventory system, and now gets to start all over, re-entering current data into his old system. With just another 3–4 weeks of long days and work weekends, he might be able to get back to where he started.

Tools are fun! Tools are awesome! Tools are sometimes toys! But use new tools with care. Don’t judge them in isolation; make sure they improve your entire workflow. Evaluate their cost including the cost of adoption. Be sure that you can get your data back out of the tool. And make backups. 

I’m Stever Robbins. Follow GetItDoneGuy on Twitter and Facebook. Want great keynote speeches on productivity, Living an Extraordinary Life, or entrepreneurship? Hire me! Find me at http://SteverRobbins.com

Image of tools © Shutterstock

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About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.