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When you’re building your technology stack, things can easily spiral out of control without a strategy. New systems are added without consideration for where they fit within the bigger picture. Sharing data is clunky and complicated. And making a change in one system can easily break workflows in other systems.

The ideal tech stack, on the other hand, works harmoniously. Each tool serves a particular purpose, systems communicate seamlessly, users feel confident in data accuracy, and no one spends time on manual workarounds. Here’s how to begin working towards that ideal scenario.

What is a tech stack?

A tech stack is the portfolio of systems an organization uses as part of their day-to-day workflows. Technology is ubiquitous in every field these days, and even small businesses use an average of 40 SaaS apps.

An average technology stack includes systems that are used broadly (such as internal messaging) and those that are highly specific to a certain team or individual role (such as social media analytics). Because today’s businesses are digitally dependent, especially with the rise of remote work, it’s critical for companies to view their tech stack holistically, and not in individual pieces. 

What makes a tech stack effective?

An effective technology stack is flexible enough to allow you to adopt new tools as you need to. At the same time, systems that need to communicate with one another need to be able to do so seamlessly. That’s challenging, considering most tools come with a limited number of native integrations. 

Many companies choose to purchase systems that help overcome gaps in communication and processes between systems. For example, with a change intelligence platform, you can see how systems impact one another and prevent costly, time-consuming mistakes when you make changes. 

Improving your technology stack to make it more effective

Building and maintaining an effective tech stack requires consistent oversight. How are your tools working together? Are they communicating effectively? How will new tools impact your current workflows? Oftentimes, individual employees or teams consider new tech purchases from a siloed perspective. It’s best to make someone responsible for helping guide those decisions and keep everyone aware of the bigger picture.

Using a technology stack diagram to manage your tools

Even with one person or team providing oversight into your tech stack, you need a framework to help you visualize overlaps and points of dependency. This awesome tech stack diagram from our friends at Onna is a great example. With this framework, you can get a bird’s-eye view on what your current tech stack includes, how it aligns to your customer journey, and easily discern which functions are missing. 

Here’s how Kevin uses the diagram:

“Every dollar I spend needs to have an ROI story behind it, so it’s important that I truly understand what I’m buying and the purpose it serves within our GTM organization. To do this, I find it incredibly valuable to visualize my tech stack, both current and future state, across my entire sales funnel. This is a great way to identify what I call tool bloat – too many platforms that provide overlapping solutions. This process also allows me to craft more intelligent business cases to present to internal leadership when I need to make a purchase.”

As you can see, the diagram is broken out into three sections: stages of the customer journey, current tools (listed by functionality) and missing pieces. Looking at the diagram vertically, you can see whether each tool supports the stages of the customer journey on the left.

This diagram isn’t just useful for ops teams or leaders who are charged with overseeing the tech stack. As individual contributors and teams consider adding new tools, this diagram can be a useful tool for helping them see where that potential tool fits within the broader tech stack. It’s also useful for getting buy-in from leadership when making a new tech purchase. When they can see that you’re missing a vital system or if your systems don’t adequately cover every stage of the customer journey, they’re more inclined to understand the need. And when new employees join the company, the diagram can help them easily see which systems you have in place and how they interact with one another.

A recipe for tech stack success

As your needs evolve, and as new tools become available, adopting new technologies is inevitable. Even once you’ve created an ideal tech stack, it’s important to continually make sure it’s performing as you need it to. Using this tech stack diagram will help you keep your tech stack from going off the rails without sacrificing the flexibility you need.