too many productivity tools

Is your team using too many productivity tools?

Using too many productivity tools might be contributing to developer burnout. Getting ahead of your tool stack can help your team get more done and spend less time project managing the project management tools.  

Everyone has experienced it at some point. You’re sure that your teammate shared that key bit of information with you somewhere…but was part of a Jira issue? A comment on a Figma mockup? A long-lost DM between you, your teammate, and someone else a few months ago? If you spend more time hunting down the right information than you do actually using it, you may have a tool overload problem.

How many productivity tools are too many tools?

With an endless supply of best-of-breed productivity tools for developers to optimize every process and cater to every need, it’s no wonder that developers are experiencing tooling overload. According to a report from Gartner on the future of DevOps toolchains, 72% of organizations use between five and 35 toolchains as part of their DevOps initiatives — and another seven percent use a whopping 51 to 100 tools! 

While all these productivity tools are supposed to help developers build better software faster, a fully-loaded stack of productivity tools can have the opposite effect. Developer burnout is at an all-time high, and inefficient workflows and unreliable software that keeps teams from doing their best work have been cited as major contributors to that burnout. 

Switching between productivity tools is bad for, well, productivity

Context switching is one of the core problems with using too many productivity tools. It should be no surprise that constantly switching between tools can put a major damper on your team’s work. Multiple tools mean multiple places where files, conversations, and information can live. So, to get a full picture of what’s going on, developers need to move back and forth between tools. One global study found that 69% of workers waste up to an hour a day switching between communication apps and devices — losing up to 32 days of work time for every team member. 

Apart from the time wasted, context switching can be a black hole for information transfer. Switching tools means important information can be siloed across multiple tools, increasing the likelihood of messages getting lost, forgotten, or misinterpreted. Many developers also experience alert fatigue, making them more likely to miss the notifications that are actually essential. 

Three steps towards making your productivity tools work for you (not the other way around)

If you’re feeling the impact of too many productivity tools in your team’s stack, it’s time to make some changes. Updating the tools that your team uses to manage projects and collaborate can help reduce toil, improve communication, and help everyone work more effectively. 

Audit your existing tools

First, take a closer look at the tools your team is using — and what they aren’t. No matter what your workflows look like, the best productivity tools for your team will be the ones they actually use. If you’re paying for tools that seemed great in theory but aren’t getting much use, trim the fat and reduce information fragmentation

Talk to your team about their needs

Ask your team what their dream workflow looks like. Are there tools they wish they had, or things they absolutely hate? You might be able to replace two (or three, or four!) tools with one that’s better suited to your team’s needs. In other cases, simply making adjustments to the tools you’re using (consolidating multiple accounts, updating permissions, upgrading your account to access additional features, etc.) will ensure that your team has a more impactful set of tools to work with.

Integrate your way to a more productive workflow 

Finally, bring in the technical fixes! Using multiple tools isn’t necessarily a bad thing — as long as your team has robust integrations that help keep information connected across tools, reduce the need to switch between tools, and keep your team focused on their work. 

Learn more about optimizing your productivity tools for developers

Cultivating the best productivity tool stack for your team is an ongoing exercise that requires a lot of time and attention — but it’s an important part of the equation when it comes to building a collaborative developer organization where developers will love to work. To learn more about how the tools your team uses fit into the bigger picture of their productivity, job satisfaction, and more, check out our guide to Building a Developer-Centric Culture.