All tools or systems you use have settings or configurations that you can modify to suit your specific needs. Some systems have very complex settings and others may only have one or two settings that you can modify.
When getting started with a new system or testing out something new you are interested in using, be sure to take a look at the settings. Some settings or features may be turned off by default. If you never go into your settings you may not even realize the full potential of what your system can do.
Anytime I start working with a new system, the first thing I do is look at the settings. Often I first need to update my profile or change many settings to be relevant to my geographical location. Many systems default things like currency, time zones and date formats to US standards. A quick look at the settings may allow you to change how certain values are displayed.
Understanding your system’s settings is the key to feeling comfortable with using your system. Let’s take a look at some different types of settings, and how to play with them safely!
Types of Settings
Settings for your application can usually be categorized into the following areas:
#1: Account Settings
Account settings are where you will usually find the account holder’s information. In most smaller organizations, that’s probably the same as the primary user of the system. Some other terms you may find used are Admin Profile, Company Settings or Billing Info. These settings will likely define elements such as the account name, a brand logo, billing details and renewal information.
Some of this information may only be accessible if the account owner is logged in. Other users may only see limited info on this page, or may not see it at all. If you created multiple accounts to keep your account info separate from your personal user account and you can’t find the account settings, you may be in the wrong account.
#2: Site Settings
These may also be known as Global Configurations, Default Settings or may be included under the Account Settings. These settings usually define defaults and formatting for values used across the entire application and will affect all users. These settings would include things like I mentioned before: currency format, time zones and date formats.
Depending on the application you may find additional settings specific to the functionality or features available. For example, you may be able to define specific drop-down values to categorize records. This may also be where you can turn entire features on and off for all users.
Site Settings may also include the ability to customize design elements. Some systems allow you to add logos or images to specific areas, change the default font displayed, banner messages or change the background color to match your brand.
#3: User Settings
When a tool or application is geared towards a team of users, each individual user may be able to further customize how they use the application. Some tools refer to this as User Profile or Personal Settings. Often users are able to upload a profile image, edit their name, add a profile description and contact information.
Some systems allow users to further have individual settings that will only apply to themselves when they are logged in with their personal user account. Often the Site Settings can be overridden so that users can specify their own settings. This is very useful for teams that are geographically dispersed and may need to have time zone or currency settings specific to their area.
#4: Other Settings
Depending on the application you use, there may be other settings you can change as well. These can be displayed in a variety of different ways. For example, you may find ‘Event Settings’ if you are using an event planning app. The list is almost endless, so we won’t get into them here.
How to ‘play’ with your settings safely.
If you want to fool around and try out settings to see what they do there are a few tips you should keep in mind.
#1: Check the Help Guide
Most apps nowadays have an easy-to-use help guide. Be sure to review it before getting too deep into changing your settings so that you have an understanding of what they will do. Often the help guides will give you warnings of common pitfalls to avoid, or if another setting needs to be modified in order to get the desired result.
#2: Save your old settings
Not all applications save a history of your settings. And it’s rare you can restore a backup of your settings to a previous version like you can when you make changes to a Google Doc or Sheet. With a more advanced system, you may have an activity log of what was changed. But, there are ways to get around that. Before you make any major changes or try something new, take a screenshot of your settings. This will at least give you something to refer back to if you need to revert back to previous settings. Keep in mind that sometimes there are ‘sub-settings’ within a setting that you may also need to take a screenshot of as well.
#3: Use test records in your system to validate
If you’ve made changes to settings that affect workflow, or a process, it’s a good idea to set up a test record to see how those changes affect it. You don’t want to mistakenly apply a setting or downstream change to ‘real’ (or what we call in the biz ‘Production’) records. Mickey Mouse, Bart Simpson and the entire Marvel case have been long-standing records in all the databases I’ve played around with.
#4: Use a test account
If you are using a free version of a tool or application, you can also create an entire test account to play around with changes. This could act as your ‘test’ or ‘dummy’ environment where you won’t have to worry about messing anything up. Once you’re confident about your changes, you can update your settings to the same in your ‘Production’ account. (Those screenshots come in handy here too!). The trick will be to keep things in sync to truly replicate your environments. Most entrepreneurs and smaller businesses don’t usually need to go to this level.
#5: Reach out for help
Go beyond the help guide and reach out for help if you aren’t sure. Most applications have some level of support if you get stuck, aren’t sure about something or are looking to try something new. Start with the application’s support line, but if you aren’t getting the help you need, there are a few other things you can try. Reach out to your network on Social Media and use hashtags to represent the system (#GoogleWorkspace or #ZohoOne) and also include other relevant hashtags like #HELPME. Many experts in that specific application will keep an eye out for hashtags and may respond with some valuable advice.
You’re not alone!
Are you still worried about playing with your settings? I understand! It’s very common to fear the unknown. I try to help my clients take the fear out of systems. So, if you still are wary about playing with your settings, or need help understanding what your system can do for you, book a call with me and I’ll do my best to help you. Or, connect with me on LinkedIn and join me for Transformation Tuesdays where I’ll be answering questions live over lunch every other week!