I’ve recently picked up the already saturated market of flipping houses. While I enjoy getting my hands dirty tearing down walls, installing flooring, and building decks, I immediately realized that my small collection of standard American household hand tools weren’t going to cut it. For instance, whacking nails with a hammer vs. using a Bostitch brad nail gun increased my productivity by 600% (and yes I’m nerd enough to have measured this). While the cost of a hammer pales in comparison to a $220 nail gun, the amount of time this must-have tool trims off of the overall project is worth its weight in gold.

…plus there’s something about firing a sharp object into a sheet of wood at 130 pounds per second that makes you feel like you could overcome any challenge that presents itself.

In any case, same concept with using an Excel sheet or Google Docs to tackle complex business processes and data. It’s possible to do, but how much is the business losing in efficiency and overhead to make it all work. Approaching any business challenge with subpar tools will only delay the inevitable: scaling issues. While startups and small organizations are able to get by with rudimentary tools to tackle their business needs, it quickly becomes painfully obvious that this method does not go without struggle.

Good example of this was when I worked for a large organization in the banking industry where we were using a hand tool: Google Sheets to manage a backlog for a global rollout of a mobile app. The product managers of the mobile app were using their own tab in Google Sheets to add/manage their priorities. We had a global tab where the top 5 priorities of each product managers’ backlog would be added for global prioritization. In theory, this kept it simple and efficient, but there were so many other parts to the backlog management equation that were being missed (e.g. collaboration between product and development on how to tackle these priorities, what the effort looked like, and how each priority impacted other priorities).

After several botched planning sessions, we made the decision to upgrade to a power tool: Jira Software. This upgrade enabled us to collaborate across multiple offshore development teams and coordinate effort and dependencies across the product management team. With a couple of process tweaks, it drove our first successful planning session and also revealed some of our bottlenecks in development.

Point of all this: Jira and Confluence are your power tools. Use them for not only effort reduction, but the sanity of your teams.