Every business has a technology-stack but not all business owners know it. A tech-stack is the collection of software and apps you are using to run your company and manage your small business marketing. However, if you don’t think carefully about the apps and software you choose, your tech-stack ends up wasting time, creating silos, and costing money.
Here we walk you through the seven steps your team needs to take to pick the right tools for your tech-stack to ensure success.
1. Audit Your Existing Tech-Stack
Once you know the basics of what a tech-stack is, you can conduct an audit of your existing tech-stack. Create an audit worksheet listing the tools you are currently using, their intended purpose, and if you want you can even add a column for the cost of the app subscription. Your goal is to take a hard look at the tools you use before adding new ones to your team’s workflow.
2. Identify Gaps in Your Current Tech-Stack
With your audit worksheet in hand, look for gaps that stand out. This is the first draft and early stage of the assessment to get a feel for where your tools are lacking. A good example is whether you are using an SEO tool. Maybe you need a CRM or an automated email app for drip campaigns. How are you managing finances? If you aren’t sure what you’re looking for, don’t sweat it. Just move on to step #3 for the answers.
3. Survey Team Members to Find Out Their Needs and Challenges
No one knows better than your team where your tech-stack is failing. One of the challenges of tech-stacks is that if the wrong tools are used, or you don’t have the tools at all, your team members will have difficulty doing their jobs. Speaking to them is the best way to find out the true issues your current tech-stack poses to your team each day.
Where do they run into trouble? What do they feel could be streamlined? These are important discussions because the purpose of your tech-stack is to resolve challenges. Your team uses the tools every day so have a better understanding of what they need, what works and what causes trouble. However, you also want their input to be purposeful. Each element of the tech-stack needs intent. So, you have to make sure suggestions align with a business-wide process or strategy. You don’t want to waste more money and time.
For instance, if your sales team has trouble prospecting, then purchasing prospecting software would be a natural choice. On the other hand, a team-wide Spotify premium subscription isn’t really attached to a strategy and therefore isn’t really a gap in your stack. It might help improve morale, but it isn’t really a need when it comes to your tech-stack.
4. Have Team Members Brainstorm Software Options and Take Free Trials
You’ll probably find your team has some apps in mind. This makes the job a little easier as you can have them subscribe to the apps to give them a try. For people who don’t have suggestions, have them look into what’s out there based on their needs. They can create a spreadsheet with the features and pricing to help narrow down the right choice.
Ideally, the apps in question will offer free trials so you can test them before committing. As your team tries apps out, they can rate each tool based on performance with top picks, runners up and the ones not worth considering. This helps determine which ones to invest in.
5. Establish A Budget
As mentioned above, you need to consider the investment part of the tech-stack. While it might be nice to invest in the top apps across the board, you need to come up with a budget that is affordable. You can set monthly, quarterly, or yearly budgets, but you can also consider having a budget for each department or function. This allows you to prioritize where the money should go.
Once you crunch the numbers, provide the budget to each team manager so they can use their team’s list of tested apps to find the ones with the best features that align with the budget. If you’re one big team, you can have a meeting to figure out what tools make the most sense for your business.
6. Pilot Your New Tech-Stack Tools
Although you now have a better idea of what you need for your small business marketing apps, your tech-stack is far from finished. Tech-stacks are dynamic because technology is always advancing, and the needs of your business also change. You also need to pilot your new tools to make sure people know how to use them and do a real assessment of each tool’s effectiveness. This process doesn’t happen overnight, but often takes months. Every tool has a purpose that can take seconds or months to assess. A complicated CRM for example has a far more complicated purpose than a grammar checker. The goal is to give the tools time to prove their worth, now and into the future.
7. Measure the Tools’ Business Impact
Once all the tools are put through their paces, it’s time to look at the results. This is easier if you have some goals in mind. What percentage of leads were your sales team reaching before the app and what improvements have they seen using the software? How was social engagement before your new grammar checker, and how is it looking today? What efficiencies are you seeing across the board such as time or money saved?
Has ending subscriptions helped reduce costs? Does it take less time to set up and send out an email blast? Are teams becoming more productive because they have tools to measure progress? Are your business decisions smarter thanks to more analytics tools? Your team manager’s feedback tells you what tools work and which ones need to be replaced bringing you back to step #4.
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