How to avoid vendor sprawl and improve your team’s productivity
March 7, 2023
The conversation surrounding productivity often highlights changes from remote work, exceeding customer expectations, and employee burnout. All of these are factors, but there is another obstacle that people aren’t paying enough attention to: vendor sprawl.
Vendor sprawl describes the current state of technology in enterprise organizations. Over the years, different solutions have developed to serve specific needs of individual departments. As a result, a single company can use over 400 applications throughout their workflow. Multiple platforms isn’t always a bad thing, but it is definitely not efficient to duplicate work or pay for the same functionality across multiple platforms.
If you want to avoid vendor sprawl and make your team more productive, here are three steps to take right away.
1. Determine what behavior you need to focus on
The customer journey looks completely different today than it did even 10 years ago. For example, customers learn about your product and your company from a dozen places before they reach your website. When they need to answer questions, they are more likely to ask members in their community than representatives from your organization. To keep up with changing trends, organizations needed more specific platforms to help make their teams successful.
Often, companies move so fast they don’t take the time to evaluate if their solutions are duplicative or add unnecessary work for their employees. The first step to reducing vendor sprawl and improving productivity is to identify the essential activities from your team. Map out an extraordinary customer journey for each of your various segments, and then evaluate which platforms help you execute those processes. If a platform doesn’t support your most important workplace activities, cut it.
2. Create a space for cross-functional communication
The second step to reducing vendor sprawl is to prioritize cross-functional communication. Many companies today make decisions about their solutions at an individual organization level. Often, that means IT doesn’t know all the individual vendors used throughout the company’s operations. It also means teams may be using the same functions across multiple platforms.
Creating a process for communicating the tools your team uses as well as their functionality can help prevent purchasing redundant tools. It also fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing so that each individual can work in the most efficient way possible. When thinking about how to organize this information and where, consider tools like Notion or Google Drive that allow users to access files across devices wherever they are. The easier it is to collaborate, the more likely your team will adopt the habits.
3. Invest in universal tools
The final step to reducing vendor sprawl is to invest in tools that are built to connect across your workflow. Much of today’s work is done through the browser as more employees work on-the-go. They work outside work hours, away from the office, and across devices. As such, solutions that integrate into your browser provide the most flexibility and universal use for your team members.
When you are deciding which tools to keep and which to cut, consider how they can be used across teams, across workflows, and across workplaces. The more universal a vendor can be, the more productive and focused your team can be.