There are certain technology tools that “everyone” uses for a reason.  There are times you can wander off the reservation and times when you should stick with what you should know (or what others know.)

For the last few years I have been using a certain email tool that shall remain nameless.  It worked OK but there were a few issues.  For example, it didn’t deal well with meeting requests.  Requests that came in through certain other calendaring/email tools arrived as just so much gibberish.  Sometimes I could parse the gibberish enough to confirm a meeting time and date but usually the call-in number was lost to the ages.

The acquisition of a shiny new laptop caused me to re-examine the use of my “not standard email.”  Time to go for what the big kids used…even if it did cost a few bucks.  And then the fun began.

It’s easy to move out of the standard email suite — the emails are easily backed up and exported.  Not so my not-so-standard tool. In fact, it quickly became apparent that converting and moving old mail was going to be a major operation.  Time to enlist some help — PC Quick Help (near my office in Woburn) to the rescue.  The team patiently converted emails, exported them and moved them to the new computer and then reloaded them.  Hours of converting, exporting, uploading, downloading.  What a pain.  A conversion tool helped the process along to a certain extent but it was obvious this was a project the email client was not designed for.  (Dare I say, it was a project the email client was designed to hamper…)

The saying is that “it is easy to tell the pioneers.  They are the ones with the arrows in their backs.”  Non-standard tools can exact a huge cost on your small organization – in down time and dollars spent (I was lucky here, it could have been much worse.)  Make sure you know what you are getting into when you go for “free”, or “low cost” or, dare I say “better than what everyone else is using.”  When you step outside the well trod path, make sure you can find your way back.