What if I told you that your company may have wasted up to 37% of software spendings and you didn’t even notice that?

This doesn’t need to be that exact amount of money, but you probably waste at least few bucks on software you don’t need.

If you’re a project manager, CEO, or CIO responsible for providing tools for the company, you might have contributed to this problem.

Shelfware, aka the software nobody in your organisation cares about, amounts to $18 billion in the CRM market alone.


The problem is that only 40% of organisations implementing CRM tools “achieve full scale end-user adoption”, CSO Insights found.

CRM, social media management, analytics tools, project scheduling software, resource management tools, etc. We all use a few of them.

And, most probably, we all have at least one tool that we pay for, and not use it.

It’s time to do something about it, isn’t it?

What is shelfware?

Shelfware is a software that has been purchased but never used.

Today, in a world of growing market of SaaS tools, it might also be the one to which we subscribed, and then moved on forgetting about it.

The other thing worth remembering is that shelfware doesn’t indicate that there is something wrong with the software itself. Actually, every software can become a shelfware.

After all, there was a reason why you bought a licence or subscribed to a paid plan. You wouldn’t have done it, if it was bad, or if it wasn’t a good fit for your company.

Reasons why software becomes shelfware

We’ve already established that it’s not always the issue of the software’s bad quality, the fault is usually on the user’s side.

One of the reasons for shelfware to become a part of your stack is buying more licenses that the company actually needs. Especially when there is a discount.

Techopedia gives a good example here:

Let’s assume that a software licence is $100 per each. Buying 50 of them would cost the company $5000. Now let’s imagine a discount of this very same software, which is $45 for a licence, but you need to buy 100 of them. It gives $4500, which you would pay, because it is still cheaper than previously.

In this example, the extra 50 licenses turns into shelfware.

Another reason is buying licenses ‘just in case’, for the future employees. In this case you might use it eventually, but in general, it ends up as another unused or underutilized resource of the company.

Third option refers to SaaS tools, and it is simply forgetting about them. As a project manager or CEO, you probably know that you pay monthly for certain tools. But do you know exactly, if they are actually being used?

The subscription could be $10 or $60 a month. It happens to the cheapest SaaS tools, as well as to those more expensive.

The point here is that a lack of communication in the company, and not keeping an eye on actual resource allocation and utilization, may lead to money loss.

What can you do to avoid it?

The question is:

How to choose the right software and onboard employees to ACTUALLY use it?

The problem, as you can see, can be narrowed down to two main challenges:

  1. How to choose the right software for your company.
  2. How to go about its adoption, so that your employees actually use it.

Let’s start with choosing the right software.

When researching software for your company, you may end up with lots of possibilities. Asking friends and colleagues will give you many options, but usually they will recommend different tools.

How to decide, which one is the best? And what does it mean?

Amanda Moskowitz recommends these 10 steps of choosing the best software for your company, but let’s focus on the first three ones off of her list:

Focus on your business

As Moskowitz said, apps are just the tools to achieve your company’s goals. So first, it’s best to set the goals themselves: both the short term and long term ones. Then, it’s time to find a tool that will help you to achieve them.

Analyze your needs

There is no “one software fits all”. Instead, focus on your needs: do you need to track a project’s flow, track the time of your employees, schedule resources, manage your clients with a CRM, analyze your social media presence?

Find out what you need to do with a tool and then find a specific one for the job.

Do the research

Now that you know what your business objectives are and what exactly you need to achieve with a tool, let’s find the best one for your company.

Patrycja Markowska, Marketing Operations Manager, shared her insights about this process in her “Marketing Ops: The art of managing chaos”. From her experience, finding the perfect tool is more about iterating the process development.

The key to finding the best software for your company is testing various options. Sign up for the trial versions, so you can try them out for free. Then compare the results and choose the one that suits you best.

Decide on software with a dynamic pricing plan

If you’re looking for a software for your team, including the current and future employees, you may want to invest in the one with a dynamic pricing plan.

This is especially common with SaaS tools. They often let you choose between plans that depend on how many people need to use the tool.

Buffer’s pricing plan is a great example of this.

Another solution is flexible pricing that allows you to enter the exact amount of people who will be granted access to the software, and then calculate the payment based on it.

Teamdeck, a resource scheduling and time tracking tool, operates in this pricing model.

Before signing up for a paid plan or buying the licenses, you may also want to answer these two questions:

Is it a good fit for your company?

The tool needs to reflect your company’s maturity level and be able to grow with you.

Is it a good fit for your team?

The software you choose has to be comfortable to use for all users, otherwise it will be quickly abandoned.

If the answer is yes to both questions, now is the right time to introduce your team to the tool.

For more tips and checklists on resource management and choosing
the right tools for your company, 
download our free ebook on best practices of resource management.

Get everyone on board

Now is the time to introduce the rest of your team to the software that you chose.

What exactly is software adoption? Brandon Bruce defined it well in his book, “The Shelfware Problem”:

“Adoption is the consistent, effective use of a specific technology or software platform that drives business goals in measurable ways.”

The problem is that in real world you can’t just tell your team to use the software you’ve chosen.

You need to take your time to onboard your employees. As Amanda Moskowitz said:

“Don’t just find a new app: make sure everyone on your team is using it.”

If doing this sounds obvious to you, remember that “roughly 50% of CRM licenses don’t get touched”, as Brandon Bruce says.

Try a resource management app your team members will actually love using

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