In March 2020, Pew Research reported that only 7% of civilian workers in the US have access to flexible workplaces. According to the National Compensation Survey (NCS) published by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in September 2020, 64% of Americans now work from home.
With drastic changes in mobility and the way people work, the use of business technology is becoming a critical differentiator between businesses that succeed and those that fail in the digital economy. How is your company stacking up?
One way to find out how well business technology is supporting your team and your goals is to conduct regular technical audits. Read on to learn how to do a technical audit.
The tech stack
A tech stack is simply a group of technology-based tools that enable a company to work more efficiently, market more accurately, and provide sales and service teams with a great customer experience.
As a company adapts and grows, the tech stack changes. This also applies to post-pandemic operational needs as people seek to reduce costs and maximize efficiency. Some organizations used this time to clean up and slim down stores. Others introduced new technologies to improve digital operations and meet new customer trends.
Certain systems may be poorly integrated, run too slowly, or lack the security for a home setup. It may be time to evaluate your tech stack.
Why is it important to test your business technology?
When it comes to modern business needs, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” solution. Every brand has individual needs, goals and challenges. Given that new apps and platforms are being developed every day, it helps to check your tech stack to stay on track.
Consistent review will help you:
- Get a better ROI for all software and tools
- Reduce labor costs and employee time
- Consolidate systems and improve integration
- Maintain a universal source of truth for all data
- Better customer experience
The more systems you have, the more important it is to conduct an IT audit. Every app used should be tied to the business strategy – from accounting to website management to CRM (customer relationship management) systems and social media accounts.
What types of tools are part of a tech stack?
Take into account all the tools you need every day. The best tech stack can include, but is certainly not limited to:
- Marketing automation
- Content Management System (CMS)
- Lead management, including lead scoring and tracking
- Email automation
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Data analysis
- Ad management tools
- Social media management
- Creative good
- Chatbot automation
- Customer relationship management (CRM) tools
- Meeting planner
- VoIP / call tracking
- Data management
- Video recording / editing
- Sales promotion
- Ticket management
- Live chat
- Knowledge base
- Help desk automation
- Survey automation
Signs it’s time to test your business technology
The main reason for scrutinizing your tech stack right now is the changing global economy and the rise of the remote workplace. From productivity to collaboration to customer management, requirements change and you may need new and different tools to meet them.
Other factors that may indicate it is time for a technology audit include:
A good sign that it’s time for an audit is when you see data silos affecting productivity. If the technical tools you use don’t communicate with each other, it will take longer to get the job done, creating inefficiencies on both individual and team schedules.
Data silos also hinder collaboration between teams. If departments do not get the data in the same place, it affects the success of the operation. It will be difficult to tell what works and what doesn’t.
If a system is not easy to integrate or takes too long, consider removing it or replacing it with a flexible alternative.
If you develop suspicion about your data, it is time for a technical audit. Inconsistencies, errors, duplicates, and problems with shared information can lead to disaster.
If not immediately, the loss of work over time (to fix these issues) can certainly add up. Don’t leave problems unsolved. If a system isn’t working, fix it, update it, or remove it.
With more people working from home, companies are brutally aware of the waste of manpower. When people are used to working with mediocre software, all of their time is spent solving the problems rather than looking for a better solution.
If you spend too much time on tools because you don’t know how they work, it is also a sign that it is time for a system scan.
Consider using easy-to-use, intuitive systems and training new hires on the tech stack as part of the onboarding process. This ensures high acceptance rates and consistent use of key systems.
Sometimes the functions of your technical software overlap. If two separate systems are doing the same thing, you probably don’t need both. You can choose to keep just one or buy a new system that can completely replace both systems.
When you need to approve a new budget, it’s time for a technical audit.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- Are you seeing a return on investment (ROI) from the technology you are using now?
- Does the number of paid users match the number of users? Or how high is the system acceptance and usage rate?
- Do the tools fit your long-term goals?
How to Perform a Business Technology Audit
When it comes to conducting the actual audit, every company has its own method of going mad. Start with the following considerations:
- How, where and when a tool is used in business processes
- The cost of switching to a different system
- The number of needs that a single tool or system fulfills for the business
- Systems with overlapping functions
- Can you scale your business with the existing tech stack?
Instead of paying all your attention to the apps themselves, it is better to think about the business processes they support.
You should also consider how each technical tool affects employee performance and productivity. This has a direct impact on the customer experience.
The examination process: step by step
The best way to determine if you have the right business technology is to make a list of what you already have. Ask the following questions:
- What tools do I pay for?
- How many licenses / users does each program have?
- What does each tool do?
- How are all systems connected to each other?
- What are the critical business needs of each system?
- How much does each solution cost?
Once you have a clearer picture of what is going on, perform the following IT audit steps:
- Perform a security scan of the network and all devices connected to it
- Check the software you are using
- Consolidate the hardware
- Check all safety and security systems
- Check the document management system
- Make sure the company has a strategic technology plan in place
Decide what you need
When it comes to meeting the gig economy, there are some solutions that are critical to success. Here are some things you will need for remote workers:
Safe and easily accessible tools
If you give remote workers tools that are too complicated or have a sharp learning curve, they will likely be using their own again. If your VPN is too slow for corporate use, employees may be using unapproved online tools.
Remote collaboration apps make it easier for people to work from home – and that’s the whole point.
Use the cloud
Most modern brands have a heavy hand in the cloud and SaaS space. This means fewer problems with bandwidth and remote access. The more data that can be stored off-site, the easier it is to access.
In the new normal, increasing your cloud footprint is a great idea. Ways to save money with the cloud include:
- Automatically terminating development outside of business hours
- Reducing the need for on-demand resources
- Use storage efficient apps
A business technology audit requires input from everyone on the team. Ask for feedback on the daily tools your teams use. Make sure that these discussions focus on gathering the facts and the underlying business processes. Ask people for their thoughts on the tool’s effectiveness and suggestions on what else might work.
Customer churn and retention are a major concern for companies in all industries and sectors. People’s attention spans are shorter and competition is fierce. This problem is only aggravated during a post-pandemic situation.
Any business technology audit you perform must include serious customer relationship considerations. In fact, when purchasing new solutions, your primary focus should be on how to make the customer happier. It is the means to any end.
Robust CRM tools can protect companies from economic downturns and drive revenue growth even in the toughest times.
Instead of using separate point solutions for marketing, sales, and service, you could consider a unified platform with built-in integrations with other systems, including finance and accounting, human resources, and / or e-commerce.
Prepare for Success
Ignoring technical tools in your arsenal can cost you money and keep your business from growing. Consider doing a business technology audit on a regular basis, just like you do with finance. Once a year is good practice, but it may depend more or less on your industry and changes in the economy or consumer behavior.
Create a monitoring plan to stay on track. A set schedule will help you and your team prepare and establish a methodology for changes, including additions. It also helps ensure communication between teams and smooth integration.
When was the last time you checked your tech stack?
Before the coronavirus, teleworking was an optional perk, especially for the affluent few. Drew Desilver. Pew Research Center. March 2020.
National Compensation Survey: Employee Benefits in the United States. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. March 2020