too many business apps
August 27, 2018

Too Many Business Apps? Cut and Connect.

By Jon Ogden | Senior Content Manager at Workfront


How many business applications does your organization use?

If you’re like most organizations, you’ve got email, instant messaging, customer relationship management (CRM), human resource management (HRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), IT software, and much more.

In fact, it can add up to more than you might ever guess. According to Netskope, a company that analyzes and provides security for cloud apps, the average enterprise on their platform uses 1,181 cloud services (apps) — most of which are downloaded by individuals in the enterprise without proper IT authorization.

That can feel overwhelming. So much that according to data in our upcoming 2018 State of Work report, 31% of U.S. workers say that they feel they have too many apps, with Millennials being almost twice as likely as Baby Boomers to say that they feel that way (43% vs. 25%).

To fix this problem, consider these two steps: Cut and connect.

When to Cut an App

Sometimes you simply have to clean the clutter. To get started, ask these questions:

When is the last time you used this app? Often this is the only question you’ll need to ask. As you do an audit, you may find that there are hundreds of applications no one at your organization has used for months. Chances are, you can cut them.

Are you using another app that serves the exact same function? For example, think of all the possible messaging apps you might have — Slack, Google Hangouts, Intranet messaging boards, etc. Too many apps that do the same thing can not only cause clutter but can actively make work harder. Better to pair things down in such cases. Choose one and stick to it.

Do the costs outweigh the value? This is particularly important for apps that fly under the radar, those that were introduced under the assumption that “it’s so cheap it doesn’t hurt to try it.” That line of reasoning might sounds appealing — until you see how much it’s collectively costing you. Don’t keep apps simply because they’re inexpensive. Keep them because they bring in far more value than their sticker price.

When (and How) to Connect Your Apps

Often, there’s simply no way to cut an app. Either enough people on your team have a legitimate reason for using it, or the app is foundational for your entire organization.

In such cases, the best option is to make sure that your apps are as connected as possible so you don’t have to constantly switch between apps and the data fields they contain.

To connect your apps, you’ll need platforms with a range of API capabilities so data transferring is automatic. When it comes to work management, for instance, this requires having an operational system of record (OSR) — a way to track all the work that’s happening across your company. To the extent it serves as a repository of data, an OSR is similar to your customer relationship management (CRM), human resource management (HRM), or enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools. The difference is that an OSR enables you to have a clear sense of the total amount of work happening at any given time.

The important thing here is that your OSR is for your entire organization. It’s not just for a single team, such as IT. For instance, even if your IT team has a project management app of choice, you’ll still want to connect that project management app to your operational system of record so that their work results will be funneled into a single view along with every other team. Otherwise, you have a disconnected experience.

When choosing an operational system of record, avoid options that aren’t strong on these fronts:

  • Document sharing

  • Asset management

  • Contextual content collaboration

  • Custom configuration

  • Templates

  • Proofing

Without these options, you risk substandard connectivity across your organization, which defeats the whole purpose of connecting your apps.

You’ll also want to pay particular attention to the total amount of data available in your OSR, as well as how that data is displayed. Your OSR should give more insight about what’s happening in your organization than you would get if the data remained in another app. The goal, in short, is to have the OSR give more value than your apps would give you if they remained fragmented.

Taken together, this two step process — cut and connect — will get you on the right foot, toward a more efficient enterprise.

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