A re-post from our friends at Screenchecker.
Finding the right tool for the job is tantamount to success. Not only does it make your life easier, it makes your team more effective on a smaller budget and in less time. At ScreenChecker, we try to stay as lean as possible, so we invest a significant amount of time making the ‘build, buy, or partner?’ decision with nearly everything we do.
Before we ever set off to building something ourselves, we look for a tool or service that already exists and assess whether or not it meets our needs at a price point that makes sense.
But where do we find the options to choose from in the first place? The short answer: a few tools and sites that help us get a good picture of the landscape. From there, we are able to whittle down the options based on pricing, features, support, doing demos, etc.
Today, we want to share some of the places we use to compile data about what’s available in terms of tools for a specific task and invite you to join my board on ProductHunt, where I’ll keep tracking new ones as they come in.
Method 1: Check out what other people are using
If you like what you see somewhere, chances are you can figure out what they employ to get the result you’re looking for. Here are a few tools and sites that will help you figure out what they’re using:
- Siftery. An awesome site that allows you to browse the ‘stack’ of well-known companies and store your own. Explore Siftery.
- WhatRuns. An extremely well-built Chrome extension that will show you what technology is being used on any website. Get WhatRuns.
- Other sites and extensions that work great:
Method 2: Community driven sites
- ProductHunt. If you find even one tool or service that fits what you’re looking for, you can look it up on PH and find others that are ‘related.’ There is also typically good conversation in the comments where people will throw out other relevant solutions. Also, be sure to check out curated Product Hunt Collections. An expert has probably made a Collection covering just the type of solution you’re looking for and you’ll be able to start strong with a good list of options. Go to Product Hunt.
- Quora. Chances are, someone else has been looking for what you are and asked the question. The Quora community is great at sourcing different options, and often times reps from the companies you might consider get in on the conversation and talk about what they do best. Example.
- alternativeTo. In their own words, “AlternativeTo is a new approach to finding good software. Tell us what application you want to replace and we give you great alternatives, based on user recommendations.”
- G2 Crowd. Really simple and really powerful. Search one company you know provides a solution you need and G2 will give you back similar ones as well as unbiased reviews on them.
- Meetup: Sometimes just going to an industry related meetup and asking around will lead you down the right path. Find a relevant group and check it out. Worst case is you did some good networking.
- Slack Communities/Other Forums. If you’re looking to source a list of options, sometimes asking can be the best way. Find a Slack community or other forum in that area and see if you can join. Most of these communities are happy to offer you options and tell you about their experiences. For example, I belong to the ‘Online Geniuses‘ community and tools are often discussed.
Method 3: Look at the ‘Integration’ or ‘App Directories’ of well connected services.
These days it can be make or break for a tool or service to integrate with others. This means they will actively advertise what they work well with. By searching through these lists and directories for the type of tool you’re looking for, you can quickly build a great list to research more.
- Zapier. There are ‘zaps’ to hundreds of services that you can look through without even setting up an account. I have found that if the service has a zap, they’re generally a smart team and probably have a pretty good product. The Zapier blog covers sorted lists of applications as well, so perusing their site is time well spent.
- Slack App Directory. Everyone wants to work with Slack these days and as a result, their App Directory has become a treasure trove of tools and services. They break things down by category so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.
- AppExchange. Salesforce is one of the most connected services in the world. Their AppExchange is a full of tools and services neatly sorted into categories.
And many more (Hubspot, Hootsuite, etc). If there’s a component of your stack you know your new tool needs to work with, look to see if they have an integration list. This is a great way to eliminate noise and focus on the options that are going to work with your current toolset.
Method 4: Look at media sites and recent articles
Sites like CNET, TechCrunch, and others will usually cover big fundraising rounds, industry news, and review new products and services on a regular basis (including going to industry events to get the scoop on the latest). If you can track down a couple articles about an industry leader you’ve discovered in one of the steps above, chances are the author on one of these sites did some killer research and will list their greatest competition somewhere in their piece or their review.
Method 5: Comparison tools, articles, and review sites
I’m sure there are more to list here, but one of my favorites is GetApp. You can select tools and services to compare as you move forward in your research, but the helpful portion in building that initial list is that they suggest others from their system similar to what you started with. For example, put in ZenDesk and FreshDesk will be offered as a viable option to compare features to. A couple others are TrustRadius and Capterra!
I’ll cover this more in Method 7, but a simple web search for ‘Company 1 vs.’ will often bring up helpful articles that are rife with lists of other options purporting to be better.
Method 6: Gartner, Forrester, and other industry publications
This one can be really powerful, but I advise you not to spend a ton of money buying one of these papers unless you’re really stuck. A lot of times you can find the paper for free (in exchange for an email), provided by an industry leader that fared well in their review for the year. I also want to provide a list of alternatives that actually includes some of the sites we’ve already listed.
- Gartner. These reports are very robust and thorough, and help you see the landscape, give you insight on what’s to come, and more. These are great for looking ahead and making really big tech purchase decisions, but are probably too dense for smaller things. They graph companies on a cost and value chart, which can be really helpful as well. For the potential cost, I would exhaust other options first. My other caveat is that these can be slower to catch up. For example, a startup in the space that has stable funding and provides just what you need might not make the list. You’ll certainly be smarter for reading a Gartner report, but make sure you need it. Pro tip: You can often dig up past editions and not pay for the latest version of their report.
- Forrester. Similiar to Gartner, these reports are expansive and detailed. If you need to know more about the industry and understand where it’s going, they can be a great resource.
Method 7: Good old Google
Sometimes just googling the right keywords (don’t worry, it can take some time to get the right ones down before you get great results) will bring up the top options. Don’t stop here though. Take a minute and Google the top company names that came up individually. Oftentimes their lesser known or newer competitors will have purchased AdWords to come up in the ad slots when you search the industry leader(s). And believe it or not, a simple ‘Company 1 alternatives’ search has led me to some great finds over the years.
Method 8: Industry infographics, repositories
These can be harder to find, but if you do locate one, bookmark it. A couple good examples from the Martech world are Growthverse’s interactive piece and Chiefmartec’s regularly updated infographic of marketing tools. Product Hunt typically features a lot of sites like this as well. A couple that come to mind would be this collection of Saas Companies from Latka and Startup Stash (featured on my Startup PH Collection).
Bonus: The companies themselves
Oftentimes you can find more options by simply reading material from one of the companies you’ve already found. They may mention their competition somewhere, compare them in a blog post, or even explain on their homepage why they’re better.
Bonus: Official app stores
The Chrome extension marketplace, Google Play, the App Store, etc. all are pretty well sorted, so chances are you can find an applicable category and find a listing. Even if what you’re looking for is not an app, a company providing the tool or service you’re looking for may just have one.
I listen to Side Hustle School pretty regularly, and on a number of occasions have heard of new tools others are using. If you have a favorite that is particularly good for discovery, let us know in the comments.