How to Decide Which New Software Applications to Use

Learn when you should use new software applications for greater productivity and get 5 tips on how to choose the best ones.

Aliza Sherman
3-minute read
Episode #96

Are you overwhelmed? Have you just learned about yet another application that is supposedly the greatest thing since sliced bread, but your plate is already overflowing with all the other software and apps you're using?

Back to new software applications and when you need to adopt them for your work. 

Which Software Applications Do You Really Need?

Doesn't it feel like software applications are multiplying like rabbits? It does to me, and I'm always learning about new software and reviewing applications for websites and podcasts like this. Though I try to learn about all of them, there is no way I'm going to adopt them all.

So how do I resist the temptation to use every application that comes my way? Do I really have great self-control? Or am I strategically just keeping my brain from exploding? Maybe it's a little bit of both.

How to Decide Which New Software Applications to Use

Here are 5 quick and dirty tips that I use to determine which software applications are worthy of my time and energy to learn, adopt, and integrate into my work flow.

Tip #1: Assess How You Do What You Do

What are you working on? What software applications do you use to do your work? So many of us become so accustomed to the software tools we use to get things done that we also get complacent about bad software. Unfortunately, that means we just accept when something doesn't work the way we need it to work. Your homework: Mentally go through your work day and write down what applications you use to do each task.

Tip #2: Explore Available Software Solutions

Making smart decisions now about how you broadcast your personal and business lives online can save you headaches and misery later.

Now take your list and go to Google. Search for other applications that also do what your current software does. Yes, I know, this is busy work; but trust me--it will pay off. Say you're using an Excel spreadsheet to track your business income and expenses. Search for “accounting software” and see what else is out there. You’ll discover QuickBooks or Freshbooks.com. You can also search for competitors of the software you're using. Are you using Internet Explorer as your Web browser? A search of competitors of IE may reveal Firefox and Google Chrome --and guess what? Both of those browsers are much better products than the one that came with your computer.

Tip #3: Watch the Videos

Almost every new software application company creates demonstration videos that show how to use their product. Take the time to watch the videos for the applications you're considering to make a more informed decision.

Tip#4: Ask Your Network for Feedback

You made a list of the software you use. You've searched for alternate software solutions. Maybe you've even gone the extra mile and read reviews online of different applications, but you're still not sure. Why not leverage your social networks on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or another social network where you have a lot of contacts? Just pose a question to your friends and followers about the applications you're considering. Get near real-time feedback and input to make a better decision.

Tip#5: Contact the Software Company

You've narrowed down your list. Now what? If I were you, I'd contact the company's customer service number or email and see how quickly you get a response. Are they helpful? Do you feel smarter and empowered after speaking with them? If you answered no to these questions, run--don't walk--to another solution. But if you can honestly answer yes, then you may have found a promising new software application.

Take Your Time When Adopting New Software

There is no reason you have to adopt a number of new software applications at the same time. Look at software adoption as a phased process. Choose the applications you'd like to adopt first based on what will be the easiest switch--such as the Web browser you use. Then choose the most mission critical. Take your time to get used to the way the new software works. Then when you're comfortable with a more complex application, move down your list and adopt another one.

Bottom Line: Even though we humans tend to be creatures of habit, using inferior software is a bad habit that takes just a little bit of effort to break. The results of trashing bad apps and feasting on newer, richer ones can help us work easier, faster and better. Now tell me that doesn't sound tasty!