How to Balance Business Apps

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

“…Lesson for whole life, whole life have a balance. Everything be better.” – Mr. Miyagi[1]

In my previous blog post, I foreshowed that Microsoft, Google & others are used within my workflow. I mentioned that I want the best software solution that will fit my organization. I do NOT want to compromise my work quality by having everything in an “All-in-One” platform, which is the biggest cliché in the software[2].

There are two principles that I follow that maintain balance.

1. Function-Boss-Child

2. Corolla, Ferrari, Airplane, Hummer


Boss and Children

Working with multiple companies with different degrees of software knowledge, the threat of app fatigue and being overwhelming is constant. Thankfully, my system puts apps in their proper place, which is away from my sanity. Early in my business, I wrote a list of all my business functions and determined the best application for the function, which I called a “Boss App.” However, there were other apps there are too good to toss aside. These are “Child Apps” with the sole purpose of reporting information and data to the Boss App.


For example, my clients and I use QuickBooks Online (QBO) to manage our accounting. If we need any accounting questions answered or need to pull financial data, we head directly to QBO every time. Despite its industry-leading status, QBO has limitations; for instance, their receipt manager is subpar because:

1. Only full QBO users use the mobile app to submit receipts. This does not work for my Property Manager clients who have multiple field workers that exceed the available user licenses associated with a subscription[3].

2. We cannot enter any data in the mobile app right after we snap the receipt, which my Property Manager clients need because we bill materials back to their clients. Our field guys are the ones who know which materials were purchased for which job.

3. The manual entry within QBO for receipts is quite tedious. You cannot have supplier rules that automatically populate information.

If we went with the “All-in-One” approach[4], my clients and I would go crazy from these inefficiencies. Instead, I decided to sign-up with Dext to manage all our receipts, which solves all the previously listed problems. Dext has a direct feed to QuickBooks Online as it reports all its data to QBO, making it a perfect child app.


Unfortunately, not every amazing app has built-in integrations, which is fine because of connector apps like Zapier, IFTTT, Automate.io, and Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow). These apps create miracles. For instance, for one of my property management clients, we figured out how to link his Property Management software[5] to QBO thanks to Power Automate, Excel’s Power Query, and Zapier. We use this system to record rent collections and take advantage of QBO’s direct bank feed, which is their best feature.


Perhaps, my biggest software tip is:

· If you are interested in a boss app, make sure it has built-in integrations to your essential child apps or an integration with a connector app[6]. Every productivity software has a list of its integrations on its website. The same applies to a child app.


For the rest of my boss and child apps, please visit this page.


Vehicles & Airplanes

When I pitch a software solution to a client who struggles with a process, their #1 response is, “oh, that sounds too complicated for me. Just give me something simple[7].” Last month, I put one of my Property Management clients on Microsoft Teams and the other Property Management client on Google Chat. I stopped to think why I did that[8]. I remembered the common complaints regarding Microsoft products and realized that using Teams is like flying a small airplane. You cannot use Microsoft products and become proficient on day one; you need to log the training hours and keep up with updates to achieve proficiency.


Comparatively, Google Chat has nothing close to the power of Teams. Instead, it is a simple solution that does a few things well, such as being built into Gmail and having a smooth video meeting experience. It is like driving a Corolla. You just need to know the bare basics to achieve proficiency.

Then, my focus shifted to Slack[9], which I used at my previous job. Slack has a sleek design, sophisticated tools available, and allows for easy use. Learning their robust bots and integrating with a project management solution, such as Asana, Notion, or Trello is a requirement to get the best out of Slack. This is like driving a Ferrari.

I had an epiphany! I was selling Ferraris and airplanes to clients who only wanted a Corolla.


Full Vehicle Classifications:

· Corolla: A simple app that can do a few things very well that is usually free. My favorite apps: Microsoft To-Do, Google Calendar, and Scribe.

· Ferrari: An app with some sophistication and great features built-in, but it also allows for simple use. You will to do some work to get the most out of it, but it’s not burdensome. My favorite apps: Calendly, Trello[10], Slack, and Microsoft Excel.

· Airplane: These apps require extensive training and technical know-how. However, the work is worth it because you (or your team) will move faster than your competition after scaling the learning curve. My favorite apps: QuickBooks Desktop, Microsoft Teams, and Notion.

· Hummer: These are unnecessarily bloated or expensive apps. They do not integrate with anything of note, and they are more trouble than what they are worth. They also masquerade as all-in-one solutions, which they use to justify their high price tag. Stay away from these apps at all costs! Least favorite app: Nearly every Property Management software.

Please visit this link for the full list of apps I have researched and assigned a rating.


The combo of Vehicles and Boss-Child

During my 14 months of business, I developed rules for successfully managing the 70 business apps that my clients and I use, which you can check out by following these instructions.


Rules for App-mazing Success

1. Eliminate ALL Hummers from your organization.

2. You can have unlimited child apps for one function, but you can only have ONE boss app. My business strategy professor, Anurag Sharma, strongly emphasized that the best companies in the world have one commonality…FOCUS! By having multiple boss apps, your focus will divide, which increases insanity levels. By having one boss, you will instantly know where to grab critical information.

3. Your boss app can range from a Corolla to an airplane, depending on your technical know-how.

4. Your child apps should NOT be higher than its boss app(s). The point of a child app is to help the boss, which is where your money and attention should go. Putting more focus on the child rather than the boss defeats the purpose of having that child app in the first place.

5. Actively look to overlap different functions with the same Boss and Child app, which will reduce the touchpoints for your operations. However, do NOT fall for the “All-in-One” trap. Remember, every app has its pros and cons, do your best to obtain every pro and avoid every con.


Microsoft-Google Example

As promised, here is my Microsoft & Google balancing act.

· Gmail feed to my Microsoft To-Do list thanks to a Chromium (both Chrome and Edge) extension, where I can clip anything from the web, and it will hit my Microsoft To-Do Lists. Here’s the link to the extension.

· I save all my files in OneDrive rather than Google Drive because I spend more time in my top Microsoft App (Excel) over my top Google App (Gmail). Usually, I would recommend using the storage system associated with your email client[11]; it is far quicker to store documents in the right spot inside your email platform. However, since I prefer my Excel workbooks to have AutoSave, I use OneDrive. Also, I love having 1 TB of storage over Google’s 30 GBs.

· Since I use Gmail, I use Google Calendar (along with Calendly) to manage my day. If I used Outlook, I would use Outlook’s built-in calendar. Additionally, the mobile version of Google Calendar beats the Outlook version every day and twice on Sunday.

· For simple chat communications, I use Google Chat because it is built into Gmail, which allows for efficient communication. Again, if I used Outlook as my email client, I would 100% use Teams.

· I use the Microsoft 365 suite over Google Workspace suite for all other admin Apps because they have the greater horsepower. They centralize all of your files in the Office app, which is mobile-friendly.

· One client assigns work to me in Google Tasks. Thanks to Zapier, there is bi-directional synching between that Google Tasks list and my Microsoft To-Do list for that client.

· Another client uses Google Calendar for his personal calendar and Outlook for his professional calendar. I used PowerAutomate to create a one-way bridge from his Google account to his Microsoft account, showing his full availability on Teams.


Conclusion

From my experience, your software knowledge will determine your growth rate. There should always be one person on your team, whether internally or as a consultant, who is certified to master your boss apps and design a robust workflow with your child apps. Your business apps should work for you, not the other way around.


Footnotes

[1] Cobra Kai is one of my favorite shows! [2] Subject of a future post. [3] For QBO Advanced, you are allowed 25 users; however, according to QuickBook’s own training materials, only 2% of QBO users need the platform which costs $180/mo. [4] QBO is fully aware of its limitations. To combat this, QBO actively promotes apps within their accountant platform, such as Dext. [5] Software that does not deserve mention nor proper pronunciation because of how poor the accounting function is. [6] I default to Power Automate first because it is included in my Office 365 subscription for no additional costs and there is no cap on events run. Zapier is my backup because it is easier to use, but you have a limited number of zaps per month. [7] People have even said this about Trello, which many people agree, is the easiest project management app on the market. If Trello is too complicated, there’s no hope. [8] Related to my previous blog post, the former prefers Outlook, the other prefers Gmail. [9] Slack is my preferred internal chat tool [10] Despite the fact I dropped Trello for Notion to manage my projects, Trello is still my favorite Project Management solution because they found the perfect balance between simplicity and sophistication. Also, they have a color-blind friend mode which is a godsend for me. [11] Sorry, Dropbox & Box.com. These two are good for external sharing, but not for internal use.



76 views1 comment

Related Posts

See All