How is Tool Fatigue Adding Complexity to Your Workflow?

Resources Apr 15, 2020

Remote teams - especially remote teams in cybersecurity - rely on tools to get the job done in every step of their to-do lists. There are so many tools out there to choose from that we evaluated and compiled The Best Tools to Keep your Remote Security Team on the Same Page. In fact, there are so many tools to choose from that you might be using tool, after tool, after tool, until their value begins to overlap, it’s difficult to fit them into your workflow, and it’s hard to remember the reason why you started using all of these tools in the first place.

This is a case of “tech tool fatigue syndrome” or simply, “tool fatigue.” Tool fatigue is a feeling of being overwhelmed by endless lists of tools, which are always growing as industries evolve. Where do we draw the line between staying on the cutting edge and getting caught in a merry-go-round of new tools?  

What does tool fatigue look like?

You or your team might have tool fatigue if:

  • You’re getting more and more resistant to tech change
  • You feel like you can’t stay on top of the latest tech offerings
  • There are complaints about learning new tools or the complexity of existing tools
  • You’re all using disparate tools that “work best for you” but hamper collaboration
  • You can’t keep track of all of the platforms that are available to you and forget the login credentials associated with those accounts

How does tool fatigue affect teams?

For the individual, tool fatigue can look like burnout on a smaller scale: you’ll feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and unproductive. For teams, this problem only multiplies. Teams experiencing tool fatigue get bogged down with a menagerie of shiny dashboards, they struggle to build consistent workflows for recurring tasks, it becomes difficult for them to collaborate across all of the different tools they’re using, and it gets close to impossible to cohesively track data that’s stored on separate platforms.

This results in a breakdown of productivity, difficulty in replacing tools that need to be upgraded, and ultimately, a shift in focus away from the task at hand and toward the tools themselves. As Goetz, CEO of Iodine, aptly wrote: “Tool fatigue is a tax paid more by employees than managers, so it's easy to miss. Tool fatigue is what happens when tracking process becomes more important than making progress.” In other words, “don't get lost measuring your business instead of running it.”

How can teams avoid tool fatigue?

To limit the ill effects of tool fatigue, teams need a structure for the evaluation and use of tools. It’s possible to have the best of both worlds here: one where you’re not being overwhelmed by tools, but at the same time, you’re staying up to date on new technologies.

To walk this fine line, there are some processes you can implement:

  • Build a cohesive strategy - Your company should have a tool selection strategy across departments that includes tool evaluation, tool adoption, and integration into your workflow.
  • Delegate ownership of tools - There should be a primary owner of each tool who is responsible for keeping track of how often it is being used and how effective it is, as well as consistently evaluating potential replacements for that tool.
  • Do your homework - Go farther than just looking at the tool’s website. Getting a live demo, asking your peers, and finding reviews can potentially provide you with much better information.
  • Automate, automate, automate - To reduce your workload and the potential for human error, anything that can be automated, should be automated. For security teams, we recommend using SOAR platforms like Cybrsponse, Demisto, Phantom, or Swimlane to automate tasks between tools.
  • Less is more - Limit the number of tools your team invests in, and at the end of a set period, reevaluate what you’re using, what you’re not using so much, and what you’re missing. See if you can get rid of a tool each time you gain a tool.
  • Determine a minimum level of engagement - Track the use of your tools so you can identify which ones are just dead weight for your team. Decide how often a tool needs to be used per month in order to warrant a renewal.

How Can Polarity Help?

All data tells a story. Polarity helps you see it better. The “story” Polarity helps you see comes from many sources including your own team and the products you already use. Between the annotation and integration capabilities, Polarity can be a major proponent for reducing tool fatigue on your team and improving cohesion.

With more than 100 integrations, Polarity works well with the tools you have in place to make them work better together by giving you the context to understand why you may need to act and what action to take. Check out these simple examples of how Polarity works with Splunk, Flashpoint, and GoogleTranslate, just to name a few.  

What Next?

See for yourself with a Polarity demo or trial. To learn more, take the Tour or tune into our next Community Tech Tuesday.