By Ale Melara
Businesses often want to improve operational efficiency and productivity, and they know that adjusting their tech stack can help. But too often, organizations add new tech without considering the long-term implications, overloading the business with tools that don’t work for their needs.
Our recent webinar, "Right-Sizing Your Tech Stack: Building Your Revenue Systems Landscape for Operational Efficiency," digs into optimizing your tech tools for better operations. Read on for a recap of key takeaways from our experts—including practical tips for right-sizing your tech stack and mistakes to avoid. Tailor your tech stack for better operational efficiency. We'll show you how to make sure the tools you add are the right fit.
Evaluating the Right-Sizing Process
Before you embark on a new tech project, take the time to do some serious introspection to get an idea of where you’re headed. Kick things off by asking yourself a few key questions:
Why are you right-sizing?
Adding, removing, and changing tech tools takes time and money, and you have to understand your goal. Businesses make adjustments to their tech stacks for a variety of reasons, including saving money, taking advantage of new functionalities, and eliminating data silos and pulling more information under one roof.
What are your deadlines?
Your timeline to finish migrating to a new system might already be somewhat predetermined. When does your membership for platform X roll over? Licensing deadlines draw lines in the sand to help you say, “Yes, we’re keeping this tool,” or “No, we’re switching providers.” The earlier you start thinking about it, the better you can plan—just in case a new implementation takes some time to complete. Best practice? Aim for six months of lead time.
What do you need from a new tool?
Start from the top to figure out the right fit for your tech stack. Who needs to be involved? Remember that decision makers have the final say, but end users will be in the trenches each day. What are your requirements? Your new system needs to check certain boxes to foster adoption, meet user needs, and prevent problems and workarounds down the road.
A systems inventory can answer your questions and push you toward your goal. The process is as simple as creating a spreadsheet with details about:
- The platform itself
- Its impact on platform users
- License renewal dates
- The value of deploying the platform
When you add this step to the planning process, your systems inventory will provide key insights about unused or redundant systems, moving you toward new platforms to consolidate tools and opportunities to reduce costs. Take CRMs, for instance. Salesforce is increasing pricing, opening the door to migrate to HubSpot for the same functionality at a lower price.
Deciding What Changes to Make to Your Tech Stack
Once everyone you need is on board to adopt a new tool, what’s your next move? Take baby steps to plan the switch so it aligns with your needs.
Map it out.
Follow a map to reach your destination. Create a diagram to take a high-level look at your tech stack, including:
- Systems that integrate with or interact with the system you’re replacing.
- How data moves at the object level so you know which objects will speak to each other from one system to the next.
- How data flows from one system to the next (e.g., incoming, outgoing, bidirectional).
Having a visual like this in front of you helps to illustrate how your systems are interconnected and what impact changes could have. It streamlines decision-making because your team shares a reference point instead of imagining varying possibilities. Get it out of your head and onto the page!
Account for the budget.
Walk into the process with a budget range in mind, but be prepared to adjust once you understand the full scope of your project. Shiny new tools might give your operational efficiency a boost, but they take time and money, too. Wrap your head around the work you need to get done, how much of it can be handled internally, and when each component can be completed before you fully commit to a project budget.
Executing Your Move to a New Platform
“Are we using this?” or, “Do we need this data?”
Execution means designating what’s moving versus what's going to be new in the new system and how it’ll all talk together. It provides an opportunity to boost your operational efficiency because you prioritize and eliminate things to operate leaner. Consider two keys to executing a platform move:
Create a business requirements document.
A business requirements document is used when engaging with diverse stakeholders, clarifying impending changes and their impact on each team. The document helps distill what’s changing, how it needs to change, and ideal results. Knowing your requirements, you can document potential risks and red flags, as well as milestone dates. But remember: This is a collaboration, so get all stakeholders to sign off to avoid confusion about your plans moving forward. Your business requirements document should become the guiding document for moving the project forward.
Dig deeper with a mapping document.
Different systems collect various types of data, some of which will need to move. Your mapping document outlines where and how the data will be transferred. It looks at data changes at the object level, including where that information might move to (e.g., a different system) and what might change in the data (e.g., formatting). Getting help from someone more technically minded, such as a solutions architect, ensures technical requirements align with business needs, so stakeholders know who will be impacted and how.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
You’ll never be perfect, and that’s OK. Right-sizing your tech stack and changing platforms isn’t something you do often—and each project has unique nuances. However, you can be on the lookout for these common mistakes so your team can avoid them when you embark on a project like this.
Starting Too Late
If you get started too late, you may have to extend the platform contract if something new comes up—costing more money and potentially resulting in duplicate platforms running at the same time if you start shutting the system down, only for someone to raise their hand and say they still need it. Make sure you leave time for the unknowns, and consider anyone who may be impacted.
Need the extra flexibility? One option is to run the old and new platforms side by side for a brief time—depending on how it's being used, what it's capturing, and who all is using it—and use a phased approach to avoid duplicating functionality between two systems.
Failing to Account for Buffer Time
You don't know what you don’t know. To avoid getting held up, build in some extra time during your project planning to account for the unknowns as they emerge. You might also have other things you want to incorporate but wouldn’t otherwise have time for—and buffer time leaves breathing room for those little extras, such as new functionalities.
Not Thinking About Scalability
How is this going to grow? Organizations often focus on the here and now when they onboard technology, either because of budget or simply because of current pressing needs. But it’s a mistake not to think about how technologies could scale with you, because it could impact operational efficiency if you have to patch in workarounds or add more tools to pick up the slack later. Your best bet? Buy and integrate tools that fit your long-term growth goals to provide flexibility for the future.
Don’t be stranded without your toothbrush. Underpacking is failing to account for what you need—such as a key functionality—from the start. This can happen when you move to a new platform without thinking about whether it can integrate with other tools. That's important to capture at the beginning, so if you need to make a change, you know what it is and how it may impact time and budget.
There’s a learning curve for every new tool. Not providing training—or underestimating the time you may need for it based on your team's tech savvy kills operational efficiency when people are scrambling to learn on the fly—is a big misstep. Instead, offer the tools for success through one or several training formats:
- Virtual instruction
- Platform-led instruction
- Partner training
- Team training
Weigh the costs and benefits of training opportunities, as well as whether hands-on instruction might be most effective.
Not Cleaning Your Data
Is the data still valid? People move jobs; email addresses change. Overpacking—or bringing over mountains of data without reviewing it—could render it useless.
Start with email validation. InCycle, ZoomInfo, or HubSpot can effectively validate full records to ensure individual contacts are still marketable. Plus, you can become more efficient with your data and your database. By running analysis reports, you can cut down the amount of fields you're bringing over.
Amplify Your Operational Efficiency with the Tech That Meets Your Needs
Right-sizing your tech stack isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. From determining your why to creating a game plan to move forward, it takes time and effort across stakeholders. So do it right—and watch out for potholes along your journey.
Watch the full webinar now for more in-depth insights and to spark inspiration for your next tech project!
About the author
Ale Melara is a Sr. Content Marketing Manager based out of El Salvador, Central America. Ale is our very first LATAM employee. She's worked remotely for the past 5 years and she's had different roles in sales and marketing. In her free time, she works on creating educational videos around digital marketing for her "Inbound Nomad" social accounts where she promotes traveling the world while being a full-time marketer. Read more articles by Ale Melara.