Technology Stack Audit: Definition + an exercise plan for bloated software systems

Your data needs to go on a diet for your company’s health. Your budget for software looks like it has binged on cookies and the data you have on hand, while plentiful, isn’t adding up to anything meaningful. Maybe you have no idea what technology is running your company at all. All these scenarios are typical of growing companies.

If this sounds familiar, you need a technology stack audit. 

As your company expands, you adopt more technology along the journey. Your teams may adopt their own software and tools as you scale. Unfortunately, this approach can create a lot of expensive technology redundancy affecting your internal teams, customers, and the bottom line. 

Technology clutter is a mistake that could cost you millions of dollars in the long term. Continuing to use ineffective tools or implementing the wrong tools can slow teams down, lower morale, and decrease efficiency. Never mind you may be simply over-paying for long-term contracts or inadequate tools. From your team’s perspective, if they don’t have the right tools for the job, they lose time and customers are negatively affected. Consider a customer service representative that doesn’t have the entire customer file at their fingertips for a service call. Or your sales team collects all their data in separate systems. The rep and the customer are both at a disadvantage.  Not only do they close fewer deals but you lose out on data reporting and customer information passing on to the service team.

The technology in this case is working against you. You are not experiencing the benefits of digital transformation, rather you are a victim of it.

So let's weigh your technology stack in and get back on track towards digital transformation

What is a technology audit?

A technology audit looks at all the digital tools in your organization. It determines the overall ROI of each tool and how it contributes to supporting your company’s goals and smooth internal and customer communications.

These audits review your company’s technology stack. Your tech stack refers to the list of tools or platforms that your company uses to achieve different marketing, sales, and operational goals. The goal of a technology audit is to review these tools and look for opportunities to align and improve them with your company’s goals and objectives.

This group of tools and software leverages how a business operates, markets itself, and sells to the right audience while enabling an alignment between teams. The more aligned your technology, the more transparency you achieve between your marketing, sales, and business operations.

A tech stack is of all your company’s digital systems and how they relate to your operations. Components of a technology stack are categorized into back-office systems, marketing communications, sales communications, and customer service communications. A resourceful list detailing each of these areas is included in this article.

Rockets around conference table

Why is it important to audit your technology stack?

Auditing your technology stack is like going to the dentist or your doctor annually. A little information now can save you time and money in the future. Not to mention a finely tuned technology stack does much more than create savings. Finely tuned tech stacks increase employee productivity and morale, increase transparency and accountability, and foster more business opportunities through centralized reporting - surfacing up good and bad business trends so your team can act accordingly to them. Here are some other benefits of a tech stack audit to consider:

  • Helps you avoid software overlap. Sometimes, without even noticing, a company is using two different tools that have the same functionality across different teams. An audit will help you identify those redundancies and make decisions that will save you money
  • It will give you the specific tools to keep your databases accurate and clean
  • Leverages marketing and sales alignment
  • Provides team cohesion through data transparency
  • Helps you stay in control of your software budget
  • Enables sales teams to sell more, and spend less time on administrative tasks
  • Creates ROI attribution to soft actions, such as marketing activities or customer service activities
  • Gives customer service teams access to the entire customer record, not just post-sale
  • Frees up your operational team from mundane tasks such as filing, customer compliance, billing reminders and more by creating a basis for automation

When should you conduct a tech stack audit?

Just like establishing and tracking actual spend to your company’s budget yearly, a technology stack audit should be a part of your regular annual review. Once you have an established baseline audit, you simply review what has changed and stayed the same. We recommend distributing a copy of the previous year’s technology audit to each team — operations, marketing, sales, and service — and having them confirm existing software use or abandonment and rate the team’s use of the technology. Once you have that data in hand, the teams can come together to discuss what technology in the stack stays, which need to be improved upon, and which are redundant or no longer needed. Technologies that are essential to your company but need improvement usually require a budget for training or custom implementation to raise software satisfaction within your team.

Rocket on launch pad

Who should conduct a tech stack audit?

If you have never conducted a technology stack audit we highly recommend working with a professional to access your systems. Bringing in a professional to run your tech stack audit means you are getting an unbiased report, while someone internally might not suggest a change because they prefer one software system to another. Professionals are also up to date on the latest technologies. They understand how systems can work together, the costs and long-term effects, and help you with future training and implementation if needed. A technology audit is no small task. Delegating this internally will take away from someone’s core responsibilities or the audit will drag on because it isn’t a priority. A first-time audit is best conducted by a professional. 

After the initial baseline and suggestions are implemented, you may decide to review your technology stack audit annually with your RevOps partner. This shorter process usually takes a fraction of the time from the original project. They can provide additional insights and ongoing support where needed. You can also choose to run this audit internally, gathering the information from each department and running a review meeting to make decisions for the next year. 

Regardless of who runs the project, keep your company’s goals in mind and remember that the technology stack at your company supports your growth, not hinders it. 

Illumine8 Technology Stack Audit 

Back office operations

The business & operations focus of your tech stack audit focuses on the backbone operational components of your tech stack that keep your company running daily. These items could include:

  • ERP: An ERP (Enterprise Resource Management) system refers to a software that organizations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management, and compliance, and supply chain operations.
  • Accounting: Your company's accounting systems and processes. This includes accounting software, payroll software, check scanning software and tax software.
  • Voice Communications: Your company's phone service provider including land line, fax, VOIP, company vehicle tracking, cell phones, audio or video external customer communication such as chat or video meetings.
  • Internal Communications: The systems and processes your internal staff uses to communicate with one another during the workday including internal chat, meeting software, etc.
  • Project Management Software: ​​Software used for project planning, scheduling, resource allocation, and change management. This may or may not be tied into your ERP in some cases. 
  • Digital File Storage: The systems and processes your internal staff uses for digital file storage. Digital file storage is a system used to store data on a computer's internal/external hard drive or stored online. Keep in mind that it's best practice for your digital file storage to be backed up regularly, allow the owner to set restrictions to limit access as needed, and promote easy collaboration across team members. 

 

Marketing communications

The marketing communications focus of your tech stack audit looks at the technology that supports the marketing function of your company. These items could include:

  • Website + SEO + Content Management System (CMS): A content management system is an application that is used to manage web content, allowing multiple contributors to create, edit and publish. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines based on content and technical optimization.
  • Social Media: Your company's social media systems and processes. 
  • Email Marketing: Your company's use of email marketing and email automation. 
  • Internal Communications: The systems and processes your internal staff uses to communicate with one another during the workday including internal chat, meeting software, etc.
  • Paid Advertising: ​​This section asks questions regarding your company's paid digital advertising. 
  • Misc. Marketing Software: This section asks questions regarding your company's use of miscellaneous marketing software. This could include reporting, website chat, call tracking, etc. 

 

Sales communications

The sales communications focus of your tech stack audit looks at the technology that supports the sales function of your company. These items could include:

  • Contact Relationship Management (CRM): CRM software is a sales and marketing tool that helps businesses organize and manage their customer relationships on a centralized and easy-to-use platform. By tracking leads and building a full database of customer activity, businesses have clear insight into where they stand with each customer in the buying process.
  • Sales Enablement: Your company's sales process. Sales Enablement is the process of providing the sales organization with the information, content and tools that help salespeople sell more effectively.
  • Business Intelligence/Reporting: Your company's data and analytics. Business intelligence (BI) leverages software and services to transform data into actionable insights that inform an organization’s business decisions.

 

Customer service communications

The customer service communications focus of your tech stack audit focuses on the technology that supports the customer service function of your company. These items could include:

  • Contact Relationship Management (CRM): CRM software is a sales and marketing tool that helps businesses organize and manage their customer relationships on a centralized and easy-to-use platform. You view this tool as your centralized database of customer information.
  • Surveys: Tools you use to issue surveys to customers such as an NPS score. 
  • Customer Reviews: Tools used to monitor and promote positive customer reviews.
  • Loyalty programs: Tools used to create, manage and monitor customer loyalty programs and rewards.
  • Ticketing: Tools used to facilitate tracking of customer issues, response time and resolutions.
  • Frequently Asked Questions: A searchable online database of FAQs available to customers to help them interact with your company’s product or service
  • Portal: A password protected area where customers can view and manage their account information with your company, pay bills, and view account history.

 

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