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A simple one

Odds are that none (or not all) of your assistants and/ or support staff will be located in your office or home, so you need tools to help you communicate, exchange and share information and keep each other up to date.

The first two articles in this series talked about letting go and how to prepare to be in a position to accept help and support and the basics of how to work effectively with an assistant or Virtual Assistant. However, it doesn’t end there. It’s unlikely that your assistant or team will be located in your office or home, so you need tools to help you communicate, exchange and share information and keep each other up to date.
I’m not going to go into specifics on any products in this article (will do so in future ones) but I would like to highlight some pitfalls of which you should be aware when selecting tools and Apps. Plus, if you need any help selecting tools or getting them set up, we can help.

Selecting the right App
Let’s start by looking at how you select the various tools that you need to make you more efficient. Say for example that you are looking for a project planner or todo list, one that you can share with others, and keep track of what you and they are doing. You may search on Google for project planners or todo lists, and if you do you will get listings which include titles like “The 10 Top Project Management Tools” or the “Top 7 To Do List Apps”. Good start you may think, so you go through the first list and read the various reviews. Ok, you think, but how do these compare with the todo list Apps? You notice that there are a couple that appear in both lists, clearly contenders. Next step, you find that you’ve clicked through to one of the sites and are maybe viewing an intro video describing the App and what it can do for your business. Seems really good, so you download the trial version, demo or free version. You start by setting up a few projects or activities that you do on a regular basis.

Now if you are like me you get to a point where there is something that you cannot quite get the hang of, so you look online for some help. Whilst doing this you come across another App that claims to be all that the one that you are using is and more. So, you take a look at that one, and yes, it does look quite good. Maybe you should have a look at that as well. You see where I’m going with this – it’s the new “Shiny Object Syndrome” and we are all in danger of falling into the trap if we are not looking out for it.

Avoiding “Shinny Object Syndrome”
The real key to avoiding the shinny object trap is to be clear what you want the App to do before you start your search and certainly before you start using any of them. List the “must haves” and the “nice to haves” and then on that basis decide on a shortlist. Make sure that what you choose is actually going to help make you more efficient. Check against the processes and workflows that you’ve identified in your business (see the previous article in this series) and make sure that the App contributes to making at least one or more of your processes more streamlined, time efficient, or maybe it can even eliminate one or two. By all means try out a couple of them but do not get too invested in any one until you’ve identified a clear favourite.

However you get to it, let’s assume that you’ve decided (well pretty much decided) on a project planner. It consolidates a number of strands within your business and you like the user interface. Now comes the detail part and the part where the shine becomes that little less shinny. You get down to more detailed implementation. You recall that you do need to be able to share various projects and tasks with your assistant(s) and you would also like a calendar to work alongside the project planner, a calendar which synchronises with your regular calendar. No problem, there are add-ons available, but they come at an additional cost. Also, you discover that you can share everything with your assistants but after the trial period that also costs extra, or at best is quite limited in the free version. Maybe you can do without the calendar or ability to share. It would be good though, and after all the cost is not that much extra. Oh, and being able to store and share documents within the App and in the cloud would be good and that’s available, great, and again it’s not that much extra per month. And so it goes, gradually up-selling you on more and more features.

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