A tech stack or technology stack is a set of apps, software, tools, and platforms that a company uses for different purposes like creating products, running operations, monitoring employee performance, etc.
For an IT or software company, a tech stack typically means the programming languages they use to develop a website or app.
A company cannot function with a single application or tool. The business requirements could be managed better by building tech stacks. However, before building a tech stack, companies must audit the stack that they are currently using.
Why Audit an Existing Technology Stack?
Companies must consider auditing their existing tech stacks due to following reasons:
Centralizing data: Using multiple apps for similar tasks would lead to unnecessary wastage of resources and time. It would also be difficult for companies to maintain the data sourced from various applications and tools. Therefore, they might think of ways of centralizing the data by using a multi-purpose app that can handle multiple tasks.
Manage time and efficiency: The existing applications and tools might be inefficient in saving time for employees. Or else they might not bring in operational efficiency. For example, an attendance monitoring software that needs manual data entry will not only waste time but might also create inconsistent and inaccurate data. Businesses can replace the existing application with an attendance tracking system that fetches data from punch cards or biometric scanners to manage these aspects.
Saving money: Saving money is essential, especially for small and medium-sized businesses that cannot afford to spend a major portion of their capital on operations and data management. In this case, the companies might replace their existing technology stack with simpler tools and affordable and easy-to-use applications.
As businesses grow, they might no longer need the same software and applications. Therefore, they can decide to switch to apps that align with their business strategies. Due to product changes, previously used apps or tools may no longer be needed. It might be the ideal time for businesses to invest in new technologies and tools. But first, they must audit their existing toolkits and apps to find the technologies that are still relevant to the business.
How to Conduct a Tech Stack Audit?
Companies should analyze the relationship between an app and the business processes instead of only auditing the apps. To make the required changes, they need to take feedback and inputs from each stakeholder of the business. The opinions of clients, employees, team managers, and daily app users matter as these people will be connected with the apps at different levels.
For example, a company that sells its products via a website can think of integrating a new portal to bring in work efficiency and better data control. Apart from taking views of the operations, sales, and support team, the website developer should also review existing customers who will be using the website in the future to place orders.
Questions to Ask while Conducting a Tech Stack Audit
The following questions can help them identify the effectiveness and role of their current tech stack:
Which are the processes that need apps or software solutions to function smoothly?
Which apps are used explicitly by certain teams to complete their daily tasks?
Are there any apps that serve multiple purposes? If yes, which purpose do they fulfill?
What impact do the apps have on the business? Are the apps closely related to customer experience and employees?
How often is an app used for business operations or administration? Is it used daily or only sometimes?
How much investment is required to revamp the existing technology stack?
Can apps that serve multiple purposes be integrated to reduce operational costs?
Who does the Tech Stack Audit?
Usually, a company will assign the auditing task to professionals in their HR team. While creating a list of such questions and answering them, they must store the data carefully in a spreadsheet or document. As new aspects related to an app are unveiled, they can keep adding new columns to the sheet.
Copies of the original sheet can be created and passed on to all the teams for input. Once the sheets are filled and sent back, the professionals must analyze them and record them in a final or original sheet. It is recommended that the data of all the apps be saved in one sheet as it will help them create a concrete audit report in the end.
The apps that have the most business aspects or are related to most employees can be retained or restructured as per new business needs. HR professionals might want to create pie or bar graphs to present the data’s implications visually. These graphs could be integrated into the audit report to provide meaningful insights to the company’s leadership.
Also, recommendations for new apps or technologies can be made to revamp or remodel the existing technology stack. Once the leadership goes through the audit report, they may approve the recommendations or might ask for a new audit report by marking any inconsistencies in the existing one.
How to Add new Tools to the Tech Stack?
Analyzing the technologies on which a tech stack is built
Each company needs a unique tech stack for conducting its business. Usually, the development team decides the apps or tools to be integrated into the processes. However, while shortlisting the tools, analyzing the technologies on which they are built is necessary.
Different technologies are required to build a website and mobile apps. Similarly, the operating system on which the tools are to be implemented can determine the kind of technology needed to build it. As technology stack examples, we can see that Android apps can be built using Kotlin, and iOS apps can be built from Swift. Therefore, companies must carefully understand the difference between mobile and web tech stacks before building or shortlisting them.
It is also essential to choose a reliable technology that supports multiple platforms. Before developing an app, the developers must determine the front-end and back-end technologies. If a new tool or application is to be designed from scratch, it must be tested before being implemented.
For instance, if an e-commerce app is designed, its ability to handle multiple users at a time should be tested before launching it.
Categorizing tools as per the departments
Before adding new apps or tools to the existing technical stack, it is wise to categorize them as per their functions. Each organization has multiple departments like marketing, advertising, sales, e-commerce, customer support, etc. Each of these departments might have a tech stack of its own.
Therefore, while adding new tools or apps to the existing technology stack, one must focus on adding tech stacks for each department according to their requirements.
For example, a marketing tech stack could require lead generation tools, email marketing solutions, CMS (Content Management System), scalable web hosting, and SEO tools. Similarly, developer stacks would include programming stacks, front-end tech stacks, back-end tech stacks, IT stacks, coding stacks, etc.
An e-commerce stack would need payment processing software, an inventory management system, an online catalog application, and other tools.
Before adding new tools in a particular process, the companies must engage with the immediate users to learn whether they have some ideas. If they do not have ideas, extensive research must be carried out to find tools and apps that the process needs.
A comparison must be made on their features, pricing, and other details. If a free trial option is available, it should be tested for usefulness.
Creating a budget estimate for the new tools
After analyzing the departments’ requirements and identifying the gaps, it is time to add new tools or applications. The companies must hire an expert to estimate the tools’ budget. If some old tools are replaced with new ones for cost-cutting, they should also be included in the overall budget planning. A separate budget could be created for each team by taking the input of the team leaders and managers.
SMBs, i.e., small and medium-sized businesses, might not have enough budget to integrate new tools. However, they can benefit from the free, open-source community that offers many tools and applications. The developers wanting to contribute to the technological revolution have created tons of free technologies and tools that can be leveraged to build new products.
The developer team can use open source software to build an application stack or developers stack. Taking assistance from open source platforms will enable small businesses to cut down on the cost of implementing new technologies or tools. Eventually, it will give them the required technical support to compete with the best companies or industry giants.
Implementing new tools as pilot projects
The team managers will decide which tools to keep based on the budget constraints. Once all the teams finalize the tools, they must be implemented as pilot projects. It will not only help them to understand the new tools but will also help them to determine whether they add any value to the process or not.
Measuring the business impact of tools
Once the pilot periods of the tools are over, their performance must be evaluated. For instance, if a new sales application was implemented, its performance in terms of percentage growth of sales after implementation should be measured.
If a new payroll app was installed, did it reduce the payroll processing time or improve operational efficiency?
Similar questions for each tool or application can be asked to measure their performance precisely. Team managers would have their suggestions and feedback regarding the performance of these tools.
Inputs should be taken from employees and users who use the tools regularly. If a specific tool or application would fit in a particular process and fetch the desired results over the long term, it should be incorporated immediately.
Preparing for the future
Some companies do not believe in hiring or purchasing existing technology. They trust their experts to create new and robust solutions to meet their ends. However, creating new technology from scratch can be a challenging task. The developers should not only consider the current requirements but also be able to scale. It could be challenging to make changes or add services to the applications as the company expands vertically or horizontally. Therefore, all the possibilities should be considered while designing a new application or tool.
Also, building multiple tools and apps to create a comprehensive tech stack will need time and resources. Companies usually rely on trusted apps and platforms due to the same reasons.
These were some ways to ensure that the best tools are integrated into a tech stack. Small businesses usually run on a single tech stack, but they may incorporate additional stacks as their business scales. If they don’t have a dedicated team of developers at their disposal, they can outsource this. Budget constraints can be set after creating a detailed plan for adding new tools to the tech stack. Also, creating a plan for adding tech stacks without taking input from the end users is not a good idea.
B2B companies should take suggestions from their clients before making any significant change in their existing technology stack. Finally, everyone using the new tools and technologies should be accounted for and, if required, be trained to handle them.