Unused and Underutilized Software: What’s It Costing Your Business?

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Aug 19 2022 read

Subscription-based software has become the standard for all kinds of business functions, and it’s clear that people enjoy its ease of use.

Statista forecasts that worldwide revenue for software as a service (SaaS) is expected to reach $206 billion in 2022. 

While the accessibility of subscription software helps businesses evolve, it also presents a risk of unnecessary spending. You could be paying monthly fees for platforms your team barely, or never, uses. If you’re in professional services, you could be especially vulnerable to excess because of the desire to support your client relationships with the latest technology.

 Let’s discuss how to avoid this trap. We’ll cover:

How Many Platforms Does Your Service Business Need?

You can probably guess that there’s no universally ideal number of software platforms. Every business is different, and its needs change over time.

Here are some important factors to consider in determining the ideal amount of software your business needs right now:

  • Are you losing time due to confusion and inefficiency? If your team doesn’t know where to find important information, or they’re spending far too long training new team members on disjointed platforms, you’re likely bleeding money due to labor costs in addition to the cost of each subscription.
  • How is your team defining a “need?” An app might offer fun or nice-to-have capabilities, but it could be that it’s not essential for your business to perform and maintain solid client relationships. Get honest about this, with yourself and your colleagues in leadership.  
  • Is there a security risk posed by storing data in multiple locations? Depending on your industry and the nature of your work, data security may be a concern when you’re using too many types of software — each with its own unique security protocol.
  • How well do the platforms work together? Integrations are useful, but sometimes you’re paying for two or more platforms when you could use one multifunctional one instead. Setting up workflows is one way to identify what actions you need software to take and when.

The Hidden Cost of Unused and Underutilized Software

All of the above criteria are a good starting point. Still, your utmost concern is likely to be the financial leakage your business might be experiencing due to unwise tech-related decisions.

We’ll use a real-world scenario to conceptualize how hidden costs may seem like perfectly reasonable expenses until you dive deeper.

For example, let’s say you run an accounting firm with 10 employees. There are some types of software that are nonnegotiable: a tax program and a client billing and invoicing platform. You might also want to have a payroll solution, time tracking and project management software, a client portal, email marketing software, a social media post scheduler or a CRM.

Consider what these options would cost if you paid monthly for each.

This may seem like a relatively short list, but there’s a good chance you’re paying more than you have to. 

✳️ Perhaps you discover that your team has been too busy to send a marketing email in over three months. Finding a solution that offers a free tier for one user license could save you $35 a month. 

✳️ Then, you realize your billing and invoicing would be a lot easier if it were synced with your time-tracking software. You find one that has both functions and save another $70 per month.

✳️ Your client portal isn’t being used often and doesn’t save your team much time because it’s not integrated with your project management software. Remove it from your tech stack, and you’ll save $95 a month.

✳️ The tax software you’ve been using for years is frustrating and not as modern as you’d like it to be. It could be time to move to that new one you’ve heard about, pay annually rather than monthly, and save $550 a month.

✳️ If you’re honest, your team uses your CRM as a contact database but doesn’t utilize its more advanced sales funnel features. That new tax software you’ve decided on has contact management built in and could serve the same purpose. Cancel your CRM, and you’ll save $175 per month. 

Altogether, these decisions result in $925 worth of savings a month — $11,100 a year!

The above is a conservative, small-scale example of how significant cost savings could be right under your nose. While your numbers may be much more complex than this, the core process of discovering ways to consolidate applies to most businesses. 

Investigating opportunities to hold onto capital is especially critical in a period of high inflation.

And no matter the state of the world economy, this is not an evaluation you’d want to do just once. A 2020 SaaS trends report by Blissfully showed that SaaS waste is doubling year over year. Your team could easily fall back into the same habits of using redundant software, especially quick-to-download apps that are only used by a few people.

Easy Steps to Achieve Tech Stack Consolidation

Choosing the right tech stack can sound like an intimidating process, especially if you haven’t had the time to be conscientious about streamlining software until now. Following a clear set of steps can help.

  1. List all of your platforms and costs. We recommend using a spreadsheet for easy categorization and calculations later. Most importantly, leave no stone unturned! The idea is to create a bird’s eye view of every software for which your team has created a login and every penny you’re paying for them.
  2. Mark any unused software. Which tools has your team left untouched for 30, 60, 90 days or longer? Highlight or move them to a separate sheet.
  3. Identify duplicate purposes. If any platforms perform identical or similar functions, color code or group them.
  4. Decide which accounts you’ll cancel right away. Those unused platforms (both free and paid) are cluttering up your processes. Imagine you’re having a digital garage sale and get rid of them — even the ones you think you might someday use. If your team isn’t touching them today, it’s time for them to go. Tip: Assign a point person (or a committee for a larger business) to be in charge of deleting accounts and exporting any important data over a reasonable period of time.
  5. Research candidates for consolidation. Explore the questions and example above to comb through the list of platforms you marked as duplicates. Before hastily doing away with accounts, remember to investigate whether consolidation is workable. Will a new platform, or one you already have, replace two or more and achieve what you need? Are there any ways to automate something you currently do manually? You’ll want to be 100% sure your next move supports improved efficiency.
  6. Keep all of your current logins and passwords updated and secure. At the end of this review and adjustment, don’t forget to have your team meticulously keep track of account credentials for each platform. After all, you’ll likely need to refer back to this when you do the same evaluation again — ideally, every six months to a year.

Is It Time for an End-to-End Client Work Management Solution? 

Would you believe this step-by-step process could be even more straightforward? Having one core platform that manages the entire client journey, from sales opportunity status to recurring work, can save you the headache — and the cost — of having to consolidate over and over. 

See how it feels to know your subscription is worthwhile. Schedule a demo of Accelo.


About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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