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The Myth Behind Using Inexpensive Software

September 30, 2014

Inexpensive software holds a lot of attraction. Lots of features combined with a very low price. It’s got to be the answer right? If we looked on your desktop, would we find a number of packages from Goo.., Zo.., Ji… and other’s installed? Probably so. I’m not very good at walking on tip toes, and forgive me if I step on yours, but in my opinion most people suck at the basic business transaction using low cost tools, and that includes you and me.

What?… Well why would I say that and what do I mean by the basic business transaction?

If you think the basic business transaction is the exchange of cash or services for a product or service you’d probably be right… but only for the start.

You see I think the basic business transaction is a repetitive exchange of trust. You extend trust, whether you put down your credit card, or send an email with a request, that the other business partner, and that includes a colleague, vendor or customer, is going to respond to you. The purchase is only the start.  The business transaction only continues if there’s a basis of trust; a sense the inputs’ will generate expected outputs. E.g. the ability to respond to requests with an expected or satisfying response is key to ongoing business relationships.  Hope that’s not to conceptual.

What if I’m right on this… at least partially? Stay with me because the implication directly effects you and me.

Let me boil it down to this basic transaction. Nothing builds or destroys trust like the basic request and response sequence. It’s like playing catch when you were a kid. You throw me the ball, because you expect I will toss it back, and that’s how the game continues and is fun… it’s no different in business. At work, the game of catch goes something like this: You ask or write a colleague or a vendor or a customer for something… and if they respond in a way and time that helps you and doesn’t frustrate you, then it builds trust. Otherwise you trust a little less and the basic business transaction becomes a little more guarded. And in some cases signals an exit from the business contract.  That’s big words for saying you fire the person or the vendor, or a customer fires you.

I recently fired two vendors, in part because they couldn’t respond to requests in a timely manner or with a valuable contribution. Who wants to pay a vendor that doesn’t respond to your requests? No one right? It builds frustration and diminishes the trust.  Life is short, so you try and minimize those experience and relationships where-ever you can.

So here’s my gripe about cheap software tools (yes I’m generalizing) and this includes using task lists in your favorite email program. They just don’t have the right tools to support staying on top of the basic request and response transactions between co-workers and customers well. Consequently the work place is laced with a lot of frustration over what exactly…? People not responding. 

What do I mean by writing they “don’t have the right tools”?  What I find is that they routinely help the user create lists, pocket’s of information, but not the visibility required for connectedness that keeps you up-to-date on your transactions with others.   Ultimately without the right tools, frustration goes up, satisfaction goes down and so does just “getting things done” in a timely manner.

Bottom Line:
Inexpensive software, including your inbox or task list in your email carrier, typically doesn’t cross reference to-dos with plans, people and projects in a comprehensive and flexible enough manner (meaning it can’t feel like working in a straight jacket), to avoid having you let details and call backs slip through the cracks… and there you go, adding to the frustration index and straining the trust connection.  Low cost tools do much better in collecting single tasks or organizing data for a specific user, but business isn’t about having your desk organized, it’s always about positive, value-added transactions and exchanges… and for that you need something that creates visibility and accountability across multiple players at the business table.  Inexpensive software is usually very expensive when you look at the outcomes.

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