New on StackedUp: The 2020 Guide to Tech Stack Management | Check it out >

You keep hearing about the ubiquitous tech stack—what it is, why it’s important, and even the end goal (ROI). But how on earth do you get there? And where do you start?

You begin by taking a good, hard look at your current technology. When we assess the health of a person, we look at various symptoms—not just one. In the same way, getting started with tech stack management begins by examining the apps in your organization, how they’re being used, and who’s doing the using. With this information (and a few other considerations), you can finally know where your organization stands in the tech stack conversation.

To help, we’ve put together a three-step assessment (and accompanying worksheet) you can use to start charting everything out.

Most companies have 20% more cloud apps than they thought. That impacts more than just the bottom line.

1. The Apps

First, make a list of all the apps you and your team use regularly, whether daily or weekly. Start with what you know—the apps you use on a daily basis. Then, dig deeper by asking around and plugging into the budget. This might look something like this:

2. The Integrations

Next, draw lines between any apps that are integrated or otherwise connected. Is your email platform pulling in customer data? Which apps are used solely for marketing? The picture you end up with is the foundation for your team’s current software stack.

Illustration of a woman standing in front of logos


3. The People

People are always the ones that add complexity, aren’t they? To understand the true state of your current technology, you’ll need to assess the entire organization. This can be extremely tricky, considering SaaS has made purchasing software easier than ever for business units and even the individual user—without the involvement of IT or procurement. While this leads to greater productivity and innovation, shadow IT also puts the company at risk for security breaches,  wasted funds, and a clouded view of the company’s tech footprint, potentially lowering your ROI.

If you’re not sure how to get your hands on a comprehensive list of apps, conduct a survey that prompts people in other BUs to examine all the apps they use on a daily basis. Then, aggregate the list you come up with. Or, plug into departmental budgets and even accounts payable to see where the money is going. Divisions that are typically the most tech-heavy include:

  • Business intelligence
  • Communications
  • Customer service
  • Engineering
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Product
  • Sales
  • Web development
  • Operations
  • Project management

Person standing in front of various tech logos

Uncovering ROI

Once you’ve compiled your full list of apps, it’s much easier to take a critical look at which ones can be cut, consolidated, or improved upon to increase your potential for ROI.

Ask yourself which tools are:

  • Being used consistently?
  • Interconnected through integrations or APIs?
  • Too difficult to use?
  • Doing the same thing?
  • Just collecting dust?
  • Measurably moving the needle?

Don’t get overwhelmed by the answers you come up with—you’re not alone. Most enterprises have no idea how many tools they’re using. Reports show that CIOs often underestimate the amount of cloud services being used throughout the company, with the actual count at 17-20% more than what IT had estimated.

Regaining control of your technology starts with proper tech stack management. With a comprehensive view of your entire software ecosystem, you’ll be able to function and pivot more nimbly, onboard and train your employees more efficiently, and (finally) squeeze all the ROI you can out of the tools you’ve invested in.

For a deeper dive into tech stack management, download our 2019 Guide to Tech Stack Management for detailed steps, visuals, and worksheets to help you chart your progress. Plus, check out the other posts in this series for everything you need to learn about, implement, and win at tech stack management in 2019.