The New Multitasking

If you want to be more efficient, having the right brain isn’t the only solution.

What is Multitasking?

The idea of multitasking isn’t new, and it’s basically defined as your ability to do more than one task at a time.  People have been talking about it for years, often claiming it is the key to productivity.  However, not everyone is able to think about multiple things at once.  Other people claim their brain is built for multitasking!  And while multitasking sounds like a way to make us all more efficient, the reality can be the opposite.  Often, multitasking spreads us too thin, and we can feel like we never really get much done. Even if you are the rare individual who can have 10 things going at once, you may not be as productive as possible. The problem is that effective multitasking requires both good technique… and the right tools.

The Technique:

As far as technique, the wrong way to approach multitasking is to do part of one task, then put it aside and do a bit of the next, and so on as you rotate among tasks.  While you have several tasks going at once, you’re not really saving time.  Doing 10 tasks this way, each of which takes 1 hours, will still take 10 hours to complete all of them, and you will probably lose extra time trying to change gears.

A better technique is to first start any tasks that will require you to wait on something before you can resume the task.  While you’re waiting, start the next task that requires you to wait, and so on. This way, you can gain all the waiting time by filling that time in with other work. The only downside is, as you have more and more tasks in play, you need to continually check to see which tasks are ready for you to resume.  

The Right Tools Are Better Than Good Technique!  

Even if you’re a brilliant multitasker, able to easily switch between tasks without losing time, you still need to be well-organized.  How are you identifying which tasks you need to complete?  How are you prioritizing those tasks?  The best tool we can recommend is having a “dashboard.”  Dashboards can show you which tasks need your attention first, rather than requiring you to constantly search your data to figure it out.  A “smart” dashboard knows which tasks will require you to wait on someone else and can prioritize those tasks for you to do first.  A dashboard can also notify you when the task is ready for you to resume, instead of you having to check.  Dashboards can be added to any application or workflow, making it easier to know which items need your attention next.  They can coordinate work between employees and even other departments. Smart dashboards take the effort out of coordinating multiple tasks, removing complexity and helping you stay focused on the right task at the right time.  If you aren’t already using a dashboard, it may be time to explore how easily it can be added to your system.  Your productivity will thank you!

Exploring the Tradeoffs Between Web Apps and Mobile Apps

For organizations looking to build a new application for their business, we explore the differences between building a full mobile application versus a simpler web application.

What’s the Difference? 

New applications can be built to perform all kinds of tasks to support your business needs.  One of the first questions when considering a new application is whether you need this application to be a full Mobile application or simply a Web-based app.  Here’s the main difference:

Mobile applications are available as public or private apps which are downloadable from the App store and require the app to be installed on your device before you can use it.

Web-based applications can be used without downloading the full application by simply navigating to the correct web address and using your login credentials (if password protected).  

Do They Work the Same Way? 

If designed correctly…

  • Web-based applications can operate offline just like mobile apps can.
  • Web-based apps and Mobile apps can provide nearly the same user experience. 
    • Mobile apps are still a bit better, but only a bit.
    • Web apps can still interact with much of the smartphone hardware, such as the camera and GPS (Mobile apps can interact with all the phone’s hardware).
  • If you need both app types, you can leverage shared code to build both a Mobile app and a Web-based app which costs substantially less than building them separately.

How to Decide?  (Pros and Cons) 

Advantages of a Mobile app:

  • The Apple store and Google Play store are ready-made marketing platforms.
    • Users can find your app by searching the app stores.
    • You get a marketing “boost” when your app gets good ratings, which helps your app get found even easier.
    • You can generate revenue by charging users for the app download.
  • Mobile apps are more “sticky” (higher usage from people who downloaded your app)
  • The user experience can be marginally better on a well-designed Mobile app than on a well-designed website.

Disadvantages of a Mobile app:

  • Barrier to entry:  It is harder to get someone to download your Mobile app than it is to get them to simply visit your website.
  • Higher cost:
    • It costs about 3x as much to build the exact same features in a Mobile app as it does to build a website with similar functionality.
    • Mobile apps require the user to upgrade to new versions, while web-based apps get upgraded on the server for all users at once.
    • App stores frequently change their requirements for apps (policy updates) which sometimes means considerable rework for new releases of your existing apps.
    • Apple and Google take a sizable percentage of your app sales revenue.
  • Capabilities like E-Commerce can be accomplished very effectively without the need to build a full Mobile app, and Web-based apps simply require users to visit the website.


Sometimes the decision to build a Mobile app or Web-based app is a technical one, but that’s rarely the case. Typically, your decision should be based on the cost (Mobile apps cost more), your marketing strategy (see Pros and Cons above), and the total cost of ownership (ROI and cost/benefit analysis).  Depending on your expected user base and the overall value to your organization, you can generally determine which type of application makes the most sense to build.  For best results, choose a developer with local (US-based) employees who can show you examples of other work they’ve done and help you define the right project to suit your needs.

Custom Full Stack Development

Whether you are looking for a web site, a web application, or a mobile app, our team has the experience and knowledge to take your idea and make it a reality. We can handle the entire development “stack”, from database, programming, and hosting to user experience and user interface. From design to deployment and beyond, we work with you to create the best solution for your situation.

Web Site

When you need to communicate with customers and potential customers with limited interactivity, you need a web site. We have experience with the major content management systems (CMS) including WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal which makes managing your content easy for you with minimal training. We have worked with many e-commerce systems including WooCommerce and Magento.

Web Application

Web applications are ideal when you want to interact with your customers or when you have multiple offices that need to share information. A web application can involve anything from a custom plugin for a CMS site (WordPress, Joomla, etc.) to a completely custom coded site built from scratch.

Mobile Application

If you want something for phones and/or tablets beyond a mobile website, we can develop an app that can be submitted to the popular app stores.

Lifecycle Support

EM Squared offers a variety of support options for your business system application or site, to serve as your trusted business partner. We offer ongoing support agreements once your project is completed to assure the ongoing performance and functionality of your new solution.

Our support options include:

  • Online ticketing for service issues
  • Full support for all features of your application
  • Guaranteed response time SLA (Service Level Agreement)
  • Ongoing database support
  • Server management
  • Site and database backups
  • Additional monthly development hours for future improvements

Large-Scale Data Migration

Many think that because all of their data is in one system they have to keep using that system, even when it is old and slow or just doesn’t do everything they want. It’s not true! Most times we can migrate your data from your old software to the updated solution that we provide you. Conversions from one database type to another and schema changes are also possible.

Data Bridge

We are also able to create data bridges to facilitate communication by competing systems. A data bridge can save your team considerable administrative time and effort when dealing with multiple platforms. This solution can also remove potential barrier to your interactions with potential new clients who are using different systems from you.

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Part 1: The Trouble with Legacy Systems

In this 2-part series, we explore some hidden costs and risks associated with running older IT systems, also called “legacy” systems.

Part 1 of 2: What are the hidden costs of older systems?

Many businesses today are still using the same software systems they were using 10 or more years ago. They seem reliable, they already have all of your data, and you paid for them long ago, right? Unfortunately, having 10 years of good luck does not guarantee this system will work forever. In fact, the older a system gets, the more vulnerable it is and the more costly it becomes to maintain, especially when things start to break (and they will). Let’s explore some of the potential costs of maintaining these systems, and the risks you assume by not upgrading to modern technology.

First, running older systems means fewer people are familiar with them. You may find it challenging to replace IT staff and/or key players on your team who are already familiar with your business, since they already “know the system.” This can lead you to accept poorer performance from these employees, since they are more difficult to replace. When something does break, you will face much slower development times since the legacy development tools offer far fewer automated resources to developers than the newer tools have. Also, as time goes on, there are increasingly fewer developers who specialize in a particular legacy system. This can result in more costly maintenance and longer repair times when you need to fix a bug or add features. Finding developers to support legacy systems is hard, especially if you are trying to move fast and get a competitive quote. When you do find them, they will charge more per hour, and they will need to spend significantly more hours working on your legacy system than they would on a similar up-to-date system.

When something breaks, such as a report, part of your order processing system, or your ability to pull customer records, you may need to wait days for a fix, and you may struggle to find multiple options to get competitive pricing. This can lead to poor customer service, frustration and attrition of your staff, and the high cost of errors which may result, such as time, materials, and potential legal actions. Even when it’s working fine, your employees will find that older system is harder to learn and more difficult to navigate.

Up next in Part 2 of 2:

What are the risks of doing nothing?

Part 2: The Trouble with Legacy Systems

In this 2-part series, we explore some hidden costs and risks associated with running older IT systems, also called “legacy” systems.

Part 2 of 2: What are the risks of doing nothing?

Your beloved legacy system (which probably has a cute nickname) may be putting your business at risk every day. Often, we see older software which can’t be properly upgraded, leading to band-aid solutions and work-arounds. Running older technology can also prevent you from upgrading the operating system, which would normally fix bugs, address performance issues, and patch security holes. Security holes are discovered all the time and hackers learn new creative ways to exploit them. Patching security holes as they are discovered is imperative for keeping a system secure.

In addition to the risks from unplanned downtime and costly repairs, legacy systems have limitations which will keep your business from being competitive. Ask yourself, “If I started this business today, would I choose the same hardware and software?” We often see older, more established companies struggle to deliver the same level of service as newer organizations which were designed using the latest systems. That new company you’re competing with probably has a full suite of modern web-based applications and current operating systems, allowing them to use all the latest plug-ins and cool apps your customers like. In contrast, your older system may not have the API’s needed to connect with modern applications, forcing your employees to enter data into multiple systems or act as a “bridge” between parts of your system which aren’t connected. You also may struggle to connect your database or operating system with new applications your employees want to use. These limitations make you less competitive, slow down your orders, and create more opportunities for your team to make mistakes.

So, if you’ve had 10+ years of good luck with your systems, give yourself a pat on the back for developing a system that helped your business grow. But now it may be wise to consider upgrading while you’re still ahead. The hidden costs and risks of that older system will eventually catch up with you, and in the meantime your competitors probably have the technology advantage. In our experience, the cost to maintain a legacy system may exceed its replacement cost in in 12-24 months, especially if something goes wrong. Once installed, the cost of ownership for the new system goes way down. Now may be the perfect time to consider your options, including new systems and/or custom applications to improve the quality and performance of your business.