How To Master Your App Ecosystem

Everything serves its purpose, especially when it comes to apps.

I’m going to keep saying this. Your apps are your tools, and together they make up your toolbox.

Yesterday, someone¬†asked me why we need Smartsheet, if we’re going to use Google sheets. The answer is simple. While they have a fair amount of overlap, in terms of what you can do with them, they’re actually very different tools.

Smartsheet is a project management tool. Google sheets is a spreadsheet. If I have a large data set, that I need to manipulate quickly with sorting and subtotaling, a spreadsheet is the better solution. Right up to the subtotaling, I could use either one. Smartsheet doesn’t handle sub totals at all.

You also have to think in terms of what you’re going to do with the data.

If the analysis is just for you, then use what you love. If you need to share the results with a client, then you want to make it as easy as possible for the client. Use what THEY love.

Here’s a thought. Use the tool that you love best to prepare the data. Then convert it into the tool you need to present / share it.

I can cut up my data on Google Sheets, and then convert the results into Smartsheet for better collaboration and tracking of what we’re doing with the data.

You have to stop limiting yourself by saying you don’t want to learn all these apps. That’s the modern day equivalent of a carpenter saying he doesn’t want to learn to use a Phillips head screwdriver, because he’s comfortable with a standard screwdriver.

The choice is yours of course, but as you learn more apps, and what they can or can’t do, and which ones handle certain things better than others, you’re going to be able to work circles around your competition. What’s more is you’ll be able to charge more for the same things because you can get them turned around in a fraction of the time, and clients will pay extra for that.

It amounts to a clear understanding of the apps that are available, so that you have a logic around what to use and when. That logic will keep getting redefined as you learn more apps.

If you start feeling overwhelmed, create a document, and list the purpose and the app that you use. Then you can start to define this better. In some clients cases, we have an internal tool, and a separate, client facing one. These are always intentionally different, so that we aren’t likely to get confused about where we put information that the client doesn’t need to see.

We use ActiveCollab for our private education projects, but we use Asana for consulting projects.

It’s OK to use two apps for the same thing, as long as you can define where you use one vs the other as I just did above.

The obvious reason is that one works better for a particular type of project, but you don’t need that good of a reason.

It can be as simple as, I want to play with this other app, to see if, and in which use cases it might work better. So you put your next new use case in a new app, and you play. Have fun with it. Learn it inside and out. The best way to learn is on live data, and real life use cases. This gives you the opportunity to be caught off guard and think on your feet. How can I use this app to handle this situation? Does my other app work better for this?

That’s how you learn to get creative with your apps. That’s the stuff of warriors¬†in the world of apps.

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