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In the digital age, we expect to have whatever we want, whenever we want it. (Think Postmates, Netflix, Google Play, or Amazon Prime Now.) Naturally, this mentality has crept into our professional lives, prompting fewer and fewer barriers between employees and the cloud applications they desire. Today, it’s easier than ever for individual business unit stakeholders to purchase and download the systems they need, as they need them without a single nod to procurement or the rest of the business.

Sure, this is a big win for innovation—why halt progress and productivity? But the compounded result of apps upon apps throughout the company has some major implications down the road if not properly managed. What’s at stake? Just productivity, budget, and ROI.

Buying tech has gotten easier than ever. But is that helping you solve problems, or creating new ones?

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The Risks of Unmonitored Tech  

With credit card in-hand, employees have absolute freedom to purchase the systems they need in a pinch—which is great for the speed of business. The trouble is, the marketing department already purchased the same exact SaaS subscription last quarter, and usage is already declining. Meanwhile, customer support found a better solution, but no one thought to ask them.

This kind of thing happens all the time. Teams and individuals frequently hop from one app to the next without realizing an overlapping solution already exists. Without global visibility into the company’s tech stack, the business becomes vulnerable to:

Lost data and ROI.

Without clear visibility into which apps are in your company’s arsenal, it’s impossible to know the full scope of data you have at your disposal. And because data is the key to greater business insight, more personalized experiences, faster processes, and a whole host of other benefits, losing it or keeping it siloed in an unknown location is detrimental to your ROI. When all of your company’s tech is accounted for and well-managed in a cohesive stack, you not only protect yourself from lost investments, but devise new, more cohesive strategies that help you use your tech more effectively.

Hidden contract renewals.

Have you ever signed up for a free trial and forgotten about it, only to find a mystery $75 charge on your credit card statement 30 days later? In the enterprise framework, the timelines are even stricter and the price tags are much higher. When software is purchased by individual stakeholders without consulting other lines of business, tech goes unnoticed and unaccounted for, leaving the company legally bound to a vendor when it finally comes time to make a switch. On top of the already hefty cost of renewal, the organization can also face fees for backing out early. A properly managed tech stack allows you to maintain a system of checks and balances that ensures spending remains discreet and contract renewal dates don’t go unnoticed.  

Underutilization and wasted budget.

With so much spending going on throughout the organization, it’s easy for various tech subscriptions to get lost in the shuffle. But in the modern business, managing P&L is everyone’s job. Not only are tech leaders astonished to find more cloud applications in use across the company than they previously thought, but also more budget being spent on all the bells and whistles of an app when the user is consistently using just one. With the proper tech stack management software, leaders can take inventory of all systems in use, identify licensing needs across business units, and hone in on under- or overutilization of apps to identify potentially larger problems. Do more people need access to the CRM platform? Are you purchasing a “platinum plan” for your payroll software when all you really need is the basic package? With greater tech stack insight, you’ll be able to open lines of communication between departments and drive higher adoption and ROI of each system.

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Building a Framework of Accountability

When you consciously adapt to technology and start to structure roles around it (instead of vice versa), your tech stack becomes less dark and ominous and more structured and strategy-focused.

In this tiered model of tech stack management, key people are given boundaries for tech purchasing and usage, while still being given freedom within their role. Under this approach, systems come to light, lines of communication are kept open, and apps within the stack are continually reevaluated for the best tech mix and highest possible growth.

Struggling with tech stack visibility? Our 2019 Guide to Tech Stack Management provides detailed definitions, visuals, and next steps for properly uncovering and managing your entire tech stack. Download the report for a deeper dive, or look back at the other blog posts in this series for quick ways to learn about, implement, and start succeeding at tech stack management.