Is this the Beginning of the Age of Consolidation?

consolidation

We always get a lot of feedback from our customers regarding new feature requests. In fact, at this point, most of DoneDone’s features started from multiple customers asking for the same thing. Bulk editing, drag-and-drop attachments, taggingdue dates, public issues, and our revised RESTful API were all spawned from people needing something more.

In the past, we’ve gotten lots of requests to integrate with the usual popular suspects – Basecamp, GitHub, Bitbucket — and we’re proud to offer all of those integrations. All these integrations have focused on expediting a specific workflow.

For instance, with Bitbucket integration, developers can specify which issue a particular commit addresses via their commit message. When code is committed, Bitbucket posts a response to the developer’s DoneDone account, which, in turn, updates the issue. Similarly, with our Harvest timer integration, developers and project managers can track time through DoneDone as they are working on issues.  These integrations are great because they merge two dependent tasks into one.

But, lately, many of our customers have been requesting integrations into another kind of tool.

The trend towards consolidation

The new trend in team collaboration is consolidation. Applications like HipChatSlack, and dozens of other similar apps all seem to be solving the same problem: Consolidating disparate applications into one place with real-time messaging wrapped around it.  Slack already offers over 60 integrations with other popular online services — social networks, CI tools, project management apps, bug trackers, you name it.  We already integrated with HipChat last year, and it’s produced fantastic results in productivity for our own internal team. We’re working on being one of the next ones on Slack’s list this year.

One question that has popped in my head recently is this — are consolidation apps a sign that we are just using too many applications? Is consolidation really the future, or is it applying duct-tape to a much larger problem?

Do you have too many tools?

Here’s the list of online software services that I use almost every workday  — and my guess is this is a relatively small list compared to others:

  • DoneDone
  • Basecamp
  • Harvest
  • GitHub
  • Help Scout
  • CheddarGetter
  • email
  • HipChat
  • GoToMeeting
  • Twitter
  • Google Hangouts

As I read through this list, there are very few tools that I could purge from my daily work right now. All of these apps play an essential role in either our product or our process for building the product. While there are applications with some overlap (like GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts, or Basecamp and email), I know when I prefer to communicate via one medium versus another.

Ten years ago, we might’ve rolled our own billing system and customer support tool into DoneDone instead of using third-party apps like CheddarGetter and HelpScout, because they didn’t exist. We probably would’ve also used email as a catch-all communication tool for what we now split between Basecamp, Twitter, and video chats. Having this handful of external tools has undoubtedly helped us do our work faster. So, for the time being, I think a tool like Slack is a huge progressive step — not a duct-tape solution.

But, what apps like Slack have brought to light is the potential that the root cause of our problems — one day — may be that we have too many tools. Perhaps, the age of purging is next?

Ka Wai Cheung is the original creator of DoneDone and author of The Developer’s Code. Follow him personally on Twitter via @developerscode and read more at Life Imitates Code.