Productivity Tips

What’s the Difference? Systems vs Tools

What’s the big deal about systems vs tools? You can often find them used interchangeably but please note, they are NOT the same thing!

As Brittany Berger from Work Brighter explains here, getting them confused can prove to be disastrous to your business. Let me help you understand the difference here.


As seen above, from Merriam Webster, system is how you do something, the steps you take. For instance, your system for posting to social media may look something like this:

-Write post

-Find/create image

-Schedule post

Simple enough, but oh so vitally important! If you don’t have systems, your business will feel scattered and all over the place. Systems are what make your business run, even if things aren’t automated. You must think through and write out your systems. When you hire someone to help you, you’ll be SO glad that this step is already done. Figure out HOW you want to do things before you ever look into WHAT tools you want to use.


Tools are the pieces that make your system work. The software, programs, apps, etc you use every day to do your business. Back to our social media posting system:

Write post – Trello

Find/Create Image – Pixabay/Canva

Schedule post – Facebook Scheduler

This is where already having your systems laid out comes into play. There are SO many options out there for everything these days. How do you know which social media scheduler, CRM, or email marketing agent you should use? The best place to start is to figure out what you even need it to do. Do you need a very robust social media scheduler like Meet Edgar, or should you use one that does a little less, and costs less, like Hootsuite? There’s no way to know this until you have sorted out what your system is.

Why is understanding systems vs tools so important?

In short, understanding the difference will save you an incredible amount of time and money. Think about how long it took you to get your CRM all set up and running smoothly. You had to enter your brand information, your forms and documents, set up your workflows, link all of your banking, email, and accounting tools, and so many other things. Now, what if, after you’ve done all of that, you realize that this CRM doesn’t do one very important thing.

You have two choices: 1) Find another tool that hopefully connects to your CRM and doesn’t cost too much OR 2) Find a CRM that does everything you need it to and start all over again to get it set up.

If you had written out your system before deciding on a CRM, you would have known everything you needed it to be able to do. Saving yourself so much time and probably money. It also will help you streamline your business so you don’t have to interact with too many tools on a regular basis.

Take some time this week to get these written out! Do your current tools line up with the systems you just wrote out? Comment below with what you’ve realized!

What's the difference between a tool and a system?

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