4 Traps You Can Avoid in Productivity Apps

By mary qin on March 31, 2014

We’ve all been there before: in an effort to increase productivity, we adopt a new technology. We spend days or weeks (and sometimes far longer) working on implementing it – integrating it with our current systems, setting up all the functionality, and training all personnel on how to use it. Yet after all that effort, all we get is wasted hours. Perhaps efforts to integrate fail, functionality is not robust enough, or training gets forgotten. Within weeks, that new productivity effort is just another memory of an initiative fallen to the wayside.

The hype is huge, the dissapointment of an inefffective productivity app can be even larger.Photo credit: h.koppdelaney via photopin cc 

These days, there’s a productivity app for everything, ranging from note-taking to scheduling to collaboration. So how do you decide which ones are worth your effort? When considering implementing a new productivity app into your workplace or even personal life, it’s important to consider the traps you can fall into so you can actively avoid them. These traps are all ones you can stay away from if you carefully evaluate a productivity app for the following characteristics by asking these key questions:

1. Will it actually save time?

As romantic as it sounds to find that one new app that will change everything and make you a productivity machine, in reality there is no miracle productivity app. The capabilities of an app may look good on the surface, but take a step back and look at how it could actually save you time (or if it even would).

Think about what processes are most time-consuming for you right now and how you are managing them. Is it taking notes manually and trying to reference them later? Is it managing the appointments throughout your day but not building enough buffer time between meetings? Is it sending emails and attachments back and forth with your team to try to get work done through massive email chains?

Then check the key features of a productivity app you’re considering for effectiveness in eliminating these inefficiencies. Maybe you take notes far faster by hand, but you want a digitized version of what you wrote. In that case, a note-taking app that requires you to type might not be the best option. Instead, consider a productivity app designed to use your handwritten notes and make them searchable. Everyone has different ways of working, so it’s important you consider how you and your team work best when choosing productivity apps.

2. Is it compatible across devices?

It doesn’t need to be true love to be compatible. xkcd

If you are working with a team using a variety of mobile devices, a new productivity app won’t do them much good if they can’t get a working version. Make sure you are aware of the all the platforms you would need access on, whether it’s iOS, Android, Blackberry, or otherwise. Check the app for compatibility on all appropriate devices, since oftentimes apps are only available to one or two of these markets. If the app is not available on all the devices your team would use, are you prepared to get new devices that are compatible? If not, you may want to consider a different solution.

3. Does it provide a good user experience?

It’s hard enough to get people to change their ways, but if it requires a lot of effort, it becomes that much more difficult. Take a look at how easy or hard it would be to adopt this new productivity app into your routine. More than your own personal routine, will your users easily adapt to this new app? Inspectors, technicians and other field workers are the ones using the app on a daily basis. While management might like the outcome of using a productivity app, employees may find it a hassle to incorporate into their day.

Take a look at how well the navigation is laid out in the app, how many steps it takes to use it, and the overall experience of tapping from screen to screen. Without buy-in from the employees, adoption will not succeed. One way to ensure adoption is a trial with a segment of your employees. Ask for their feedback before rolling out the initiative companywide.

Oftentimes a simple fix is all it takes. One company, for instance, struggled to get technicians to do work orders on their phones. But, the technicians had nowhere to put their gloves. All they needed to do was provide a clip to hold their gloves while they used their mobile phones. Getting feedback from employees can not only encourage buy in but reveal simple solutions to help your adoption rate soar.

4. Will it integrate with current systems?

Whatever databases, programs, and other productivity apps you are currently using are factors in choosing a new productivity app. After all, you don’t want to start using an app only to find it will not integrate with your management systems. That would just open up a can of worms and interrupt your work flow. Wasn’t the point of the new app to improve productivity and not cause a slew of time-consuming issues?

Ultimately, what this all comes down to is keeping the process as frictionless as possible. Carefully take a look at how you currently get work done and what inefficient practices you want to eliminate. Combine that with the considerations listed above and you’ll be well on your way to implementing a new productivity app that will improve your efforts!