With many new technologies being deployed into the marketplace every day, organizations are constantly faced with the decision-making process of choosing the right technology stack for today as well as the future. A given stack may be the right choice for today’s performance but have you considered scalability, how each component of the stack is supported, future cost structure, and potential integration challenges for future components? Considering no two tech stacks are either alike or equally utilized, it’s nearly impossible to craft a blueprint that safeguards against any of the above concerns and more. Thankfully there are experts that are prepared to share their expertise to maximize your probability of success.
I’m joined by Erika Macaione, Founder of South Boston Consulting for this particular piece. Her company is a boutique business operations firm that partners with businesses on a variety of inter and intra-department technology concerns. To give greater clarity to today’s topic, we had a wonderful Q&A exchange that I’d like to share with you now.
Question: How far out should you be looking at your technology roadmap?
Answer: You should anticipate scalability needs 1, 3, and 5 years out. Anything further out and it’s likely that ecosystem will have changed drastically enough that it doesn’t really matter. It’s not that you shouldn’t be thinking about the future, but keep it high level as you won’t be able to make 10-year technology decisions today. Also, don’t be afraid to rip and replace to save on licensing costs. It’s entirely normal for companies to outgrow solutions and partners as they evolve. Especially start-ups!
Question: What is your recommendation for trying out a new software platform or professional services partner?
Answer: You definitely need to focus on your MVP (minimum viable product) and start with small engagements including:
– Test out platforms and products with smaller prototypes or use cases before moving more involved business processes over
– Develop quickly – to gauge usability and limit throwaway work
– Iterate for additional changes (agile methodology)
– Allow for an easy exit and reassessment if not going to plan
– Be open to pivoting (because it’s a certainty)
Question: Where do companies face challenges realizing optimal ROI?
Answer: First, you need to make sure you have the right staff in place. You don’t necessarily need experts but you do need strong problem-solvers with excellent communication skills. Instead of dropping new projects on IT stakeholders, create a strategy that offers career progression that aligns with departmental needs and necessary technologies. Ensuring a strong personality fit between technical and business stakeholders will remove friction and maximize ROI.
Secondly, you must ensure strong contract management. Make sure the right members of your team negotiate with your vendors and ensure the most favorable terms possible. If you don’t have the proper resources, employ a third-party service that will audit your vendors and negotiate terms on your behalf. Regardless of whether handled internally or externally, be sure that a dedicated resource is accountable for contracts and renewals. This will ensure you are not paying for technologies that aren’t used as well as minimizing the chances of lapsed contracts for critical solutions.
Question: If you had one last piece of advice, for a company starting a new project/product, what would it be?
Answer: Don’t be afraid to challenge existing business processes. Doing the same thing on a fresh, shiny new platform isn’t the best way to maximize ROI. Embrace an open dialog with business stakeholders and/or customers and try to conquer critical challenges with creativity and innovative processes. You also want to ensure your critical people are properly utilized. If your new product/solution automates a previously manual process, ensure you have a place to repurpose your internal resource.
Question: When choosing a technology stack, do you have an opinion on selecting an ecosystem for hosting and management (such as AWS, Azure, Google, etc)
Answer: I leave this decision up to a development team. At the core, they all do about the same thing, but some developers prefer one over the other for a variety of reasons. I’ve been told that Google is the easiest to administer from a development standpoint, but I also have several clients who use AWS and Azure. I would recommend identifying your requirements first and then choosing the solution that best fits your business needs from a feature, functionality, and cost standpoint.
Question: What is your best advice for selecting a tech stack on a limited budget? Where to begin?
Answer: When starting with a limited budget you really have to prioritize. Go back to your 1 or 3-year technology roadmap, identify the use case that will impact the most significantly and start there. If you can, try to ensure you are choosing tools and platforms that will scale within the 1 to 3-year roadmap. If not, realize you may have to rip & replace as the business evolves and calculate the potential cost (monetary, time, change management) for the business to ensure you are comfortable with that approach.
About South Boston Consulting
South Boston Consulting is a boutique business operations firm that uses real-world experience to solve a variety of inter- and intra-department concerns. This isn’t a developer-driven shop looking to patch and move on. It’s a team of experts who have worked on the frontlines with businesses like yours.
Learn more at – https://southbostonconsulting.com
About Alexander Technology Group
Alexander Technology Group is the leading provider of technology staffing and recruiting services across Greater Boston and New Hampshire. Since 2007, Alexander Technology Group has provided qualified technology professionals, on a temporary and direct-hire basis, to thousands of organizations throughout the local market.
Learn more and search jobs at https://www.alexandertg.com