After working with existing communication - work management tools for several years, we decided to fix the problems with them once and for all. There were two major reasons why we built COMTIFY:
- We were done dealing with Emails
- Existing collaboration tools did not plug the gap
Let's dig deeper into each of these points:
The Problems with Email
As like everyone else around us, we were facing huge problems while using emails to get work done in our teams.
What we realized was that Email was invented to replace snail mail - the hardcopy letters which used to physically travel from one place to the other.
Email really reduced that physical transition time of information to milliseconds. But the real issue is that
Companies replaced snail mail with Email, which did solve the problem for a decade. But as volume of work grew, businesses started growing 5X in a matter of months and not decades, Email as a communication medium lagged far behind. So there has to be a 'next version of Email'.
Let me summarize the issues with Email being used at work:
1. Load Time
Each email takes some time to load. Even in threaded clients, the thread becomes problematic when it exceeds 25 messages. This is because emails, by their inherent nature, are bulky. They contain a lot of information in the form of headers, signatures and email history.
Moreover, even when the conversation is threaded, each email is to be clicked to be collapsed. The time each email takes to load and get read, becomes huge when multiplied with the numbers of emails, which leads to the next point..
2. Too Many Emails
We simply were getting too many emails in our inboxes.
A bulk of them fell in the following categories:
- Someone is just adding another person into the thread, for which an extra email had to be sent. This led to everyone else in the thread getting disturbed.
- Someone was tagged wrongly into a thread. Now this guy has to bear the brunt of reading the whole main chain and all messages in future from this thread. Of course, he can reply-all with 'Please remove me from this thread' but that makes him look bad.
- Multiple email threads running on a particular issue.
3. Other Limitations
As we observed, and you would agree with us on the fact that:
We did that too, but failed. And we failed repeatedly.
We starred emails, the number of starred emails grew.
Then we created a second-priority folder called 'Track', which again faced the same problem and ceased to be read after some time. But the real issue is that emails are not built to be treated like that. And this is the main reason why there's a need of task management tools (we take them up below).
We used a lot of automation. We used Gmail extensions, newer email clients, filters, automatic unsubscribers. Some of them did work for some time, but the value they provided wasn't that great to use them for years.
Collaboration Tools did not Serve the Purpose either
1. Steep Learning Curve
Slack, Asana, Wunderlist, Smartsheet - we tried everything.
There definitely was certain learning curve associated with each of these tools. If you multiply that time with number of members in your team, it becomes huge.
Even after training your team on a tool, if they still say 'mail me the details', then you basically regret all the effort in training that just got wasted.
2. They Failed with External Communication
None of the tools did great with managing our external communication. We had to come back to emails if we communicate with external clients or vendors. This resulted in the minumum number of tools being used to two at any point of time. First - email client and second - the collaboration tool.
3. User Habits
Some people continued on emails, dragging others out of collaboration tool. People really don't care how the message reaches the other guy, as long as it does.
So even if one guy started with a single email, other had to reply on it, creating a thread outside of the collaboration tool. So even internally, emails were refusing to die. More so in a large team where you can't really put a mandate on not using emails for internal purposes.
4. Too Many Tools
Too many tools started to be used for different specialized purposes. Some specific tools came into being - CRM, bug tracking tool, knowledge sharing tool etc. This inconspicuously started these issues:
Cost - A bulk of money starting going into maintaining all the tools.
Effort Duplication - Each tool had at least one thread going on one issue. So number of tools = number of threads, on ONE issue. What is the need of so many threads running on a single issue, we could not comprehend.
5. No Single-User Utility
Each tool needed the whole team to be onboarded for it to be useful. How cool it'll be if one guy of my team uses one tool of his choice, while other guy uses something else?
5. Tool-specific Problems
Each tool had its own limitation. Some had issues with file attachments, some treated due dates differently.
Hence, we went ahead and built our own tool COMTIFY. Do get inside, use it, try to fit it into your workflow. We will be eagerly waiting for your feedback!