Having the right tool stack can make or break a project, a degree, or even a whole business. There’s only so much that sheer determination can accomplish when your tools are working against you.
For this case study, we spoke with Erica Hawkins, who studies Full-Stack Web Development at Udacity. She uses Unito to power a fully customized tool stack that benefits from each tool’s unique features. The takeaways here aren’t exclusive to students. Anyone who needs more out of their tool stack can learn something from this use case.
Scattered second brain
When your tool stack is working right, it’s your second brain. It helps you keep track of what needs to get done, automates busywork, and keeps you on-task. But before using Unito, Erica just couldn’t make her tech stack work: “During COVID, I had papers everywhere and filled every notebook I had,” she says.
Bits of crucial information, deadlines, and to-dos were scattered throughout physical notebooks, downloaded files, and apps like OneNote and Apple’s Notes app. Every workday began with determining which tasks, lessons, or projects were the priority for that day. Then, Erica needed to track down the information and files she needed to get to work.
This effect is compounded when you work in a team. The time it takes just to get started adds up, and interruptions from team members can be crippling when they mean having to start over.
Burning through resources
Students aren’t the only ones working with limited resources. Every single team, department, and organization works with tight budgets, where every expense has to be justified. So unless you’re relying on free plans and trials, you have to make each tool count.
For Erica, the price tag associated with her tool stack just wasn’t working for her. Her school suggested she use Omnifocus since it had features built for developers and designers. But that represented a significant investment for a student budget. And Erica’s paper system wasn’t doing much better: “I went through at least a notebook a month.”
Whether you’re building an ad-hoc system — or just relying on the status quo — you often find yourself paying for the gaps in your workflow. That can mean a bloated tool budget or a huge amount of wasted time.
Automation isn’t enough
Erica realized her stack wasn’t working when her productive time took a nosedive. She started building a new system between classes, gradually adding tools to fill specific niches. This led to her current tool stack that includes Trello, Asana, Airtable, and ClickUp. But even though she now had the right tools, she needed a way to make them communicate.
Before turning to Unito, Erica tried using Automate.io, a popular automation solution. There were a few problems with this platform, however:
- It didn’t sync information two ways out of the box.
- The price point didn’t work for her.
In Erica’s own words: “It wasn’t worth it.”
How Unito changed things
Customized tool stack
Unito allowed Erica to build a tool stack that just works. Asana holds deadlines and priorities, while Trello is where she keeps mood boards, lesson breakdowns, project plans, and so on. ClickUp is her main hub, her one-stop shop where she can check everything she’s got going on. But she also uses Airtable’s handy flashcard templates to help her study.
Without Unito, she’d need to copy information from one tool and paste it in the others — or rely on her previous ad-hoc system. But with Unito’s two-way flows, she only needs to make changes in one tool while Unito does the rest. That means everything’s up to date, and she can focus on optimizing her system without needing to double-check that everything’s working right.
Few teams are getting by with just a single tool. Even tools that claim to do it all have to be supplemented with other platforms. But with Unito, you can make it all work the way it feels like it should.
Doing more with less
Between Omnifocus, Automate.io, and the other tools Erica was using, she was spending $70 a month just to have the tools she needed to get her work done. And it’s not like she had a team to collaborate with, this was how much it cost just for her.
With Unito, she was able to integrate some of the most popular work management tools on the market. That gave her the freedom to hunt for the features she needed and hunt for the best deals — or the best free tools.
So how much is Erica paying for her tool stack now? Between her Unito plan, Airtable, ClickUp, Trello, and Asana, she’s getting better productivity for $20 a month.
Whether you’re working on a student budget or having to account for tool use across a whole department, getting more out of your tools for less than a third of the money is a pretty good deal.
Two-way information channels
Most of the popular automation and workflow management solutions on the market have one of two problems. Either they don’t sync information back and forth out of the box or they’re not really self-serve. With Automate.io, Erica was getting the worst of both worlds.
Unito combines a price-point any team can afford, two-way syncing by default, and a host of other features designed for everyone, from students to enterprise-scale businesses. For Erica, one of those features stood out: “The workflow designer itself was crucial. I’m a visual person, and it’s way easier to connect the branches and just make sure the arrows are going the right way.”
Erica’s custom tool stack needed some serious elbow grease to work. For teams, that means more meetings, more emails, and a whole lot of copying and pasting. With Unito, her stack works flawlessly in just a few clicks.
The final word
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