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Changing apps isn't scary

by 4 February 20222 Comments

Here's how to know if it's time to switch to a new tool and how to find the right software and transfer the data.

Settling for the software you are already using is like putting up with a terrible apartment. Of course: hot water in the kitchen only works if you're on a certain floor board, and that's troubling in all ways. On the other hand, however, move really does disgust.

An app you depend on is similar, except there's no reason to be afraid to move. You can try out the software before committing, and the actual transition is generally not that difficult. In most cases, when switching apps, you can take your data with you.

There are a lot of nuances here, and I'm not going to pretend that switching apps will always be easy. Some companies have decades of data, workflows and habits based on specific tools and this will be a transition. But in most cases, switching between tools isn't nearly the amount of work you think it will be.

Don't let the fear of moving keep you in a shitty apartment. You have options.

How to know that an app no longer works for you

This isn't something you need to think about too much. If you suspect a tool isn't working well for you, trust your gut - you're probably right. But here are some signs:

  • You constantly ran into limitations . If you often think about things you wish the software could do, only to find it can't, it's time to switch apps

  • You are using other tools to fill in the deficiencies . This can get confusing, sure, but you shouldn't need other software to integrate an app's core functions. If you're constantly using workarounds, like copying data to a spreadsheet so you can arrange it in a way that's actually useful, you might not be using the right app.

  • Updates for necessary features cost more than you're willing to pay . Sometimes, it's about money. Some apps block features behind higher payment tiers. If another app offers the functionality you want at the current price, it's time to switch apps

  • The software has become a running joke. Honestly, if an app is really awful, your staff will start making fun of it. Don't get mad at those jokes, learn from them.

These aren't the only signs, of course, and no one understands your situation better than you. If any of these things are true, however, you should at least look into replacement software.

How to find a better app

The first hurdle to overcome, after discovering that an app isn't working for you, is figuring out what alternatives there are.

I've been researching for the best Zapier app lists for three years and have written similar articles for a decade before. It taught me a lot about how to find similar apps in any category and understand which ones offer which features. Here is my process:

  • Do an extensive search for alternatives . Just type in the name of your current software with the word "alternative" or "vs" and see what comes out. I'd ignore any sites that simply offer listings, like G2 or Capterra - both sites strongly favor software companies that pay to be ranked high. Look for results with articles written by real people on websites. Related: find out how to identify content marketing , so as to avoid obvious scams.

  • Notice how the reviewers call the category . My grandmother doesn't know what a web browser is, she just knows that she has to tap a particular button to open Facebook on her computer. I think most of us are like that with at least one category of app. I didn't know what diagramming software was until I wrote our list of the best software for diagramming: I just knew Lucidchart was pretty neat. Once I found the name for the category, however, I could find all kinds of alternatives (some of which are in that article).

  • Look for reviews and "better than" lists for that tip . Armed with a category name? Great! Now look for the best apps in that category. We offer a lot of best app lists for hundreds of categories, but there is no shortage of great websites out there. (Again: focus on the ones written by man.) Write down any apps you haven't heard of and think they might be suitable.

  • Ask around. I review the software professionally, but I keep learning about new apps from my friends and colleagues. Ask people in your industry which apps they use, how they like them, and which features they use on a regular basis. You will learn things. Again: write down any options that look promising.

  • Make a list of the features you want, then check which apps on your list have those features. This is the hardest part, but it also helps you get rid of most apps early - anything that doesn't have your capabilities isn't worth looking into, so don't.

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