Recently, the Founder and CEO of MRM wrote a LinkedIn series on why and when an organization should tweak or ultimately toss their tech stack. We’ve put the criteria in one place so you and your team are able to ask the same questions MRM did when cleaning up our tech stack.

Now onto the big question: is it time to throw out your existing tech stack?

Is it time to tune up your tech stack or start from scratch, and what are the potential business impacts of both? For a lot of us, the spring season comes with the usual ‘spring cleaning’ around the house or yard.

It might be time to apply that same annual look when it comes to our tech stacks.

At Measured Results Marketing, we’ve had a number of conversations internally, with clients, and with prospects to evaluate whether the clean-up in their existing marketing and sales operation tools is worth the fine tuning or if it’s time to start fresh.

Like any exercise regarding your tech stack, we started the process by taking inventory of our current stack to see what was under the hood.

MRM has undergone quite a few changes over the last decade, in terms of the sophistication of the tools that we use as well as the applications that we have added. What we found was surprising and, frankly, a little scary. We found around 50 applications in total to scrub through with a fine tooth comb.

I’ll share the decision criteria we came up with to tackle the million dollar question of tuning vs. rebuilding. 

Taming a technology stack audit can be a nightmare. We’re opening up about an internal exercise that we had based on many conversations with our prospects and customers alike. 

That question? After a year, do we tune or rebuild our technology stack?

Let’s dive into the evaluation process of how we decided on the tune vs. build argument for nearly 50 applications.

 

Criteria 1

Map out requirements in terms of what we need now without considering what’s already been built.

This is pretty hard to do when you’re working with a group of scientists, engineers, and marketers, as those considerations and needs vary.

A good example of this first step is a blog called Six Snappy Steps to Conducting a Marketing Tech Stack Audit

TLDR, with regards to the CRM angle.

The requirements:

  • Mechanism to capture all leads and online activity, regardless of source
  • To filter or qualify them so that we are creating the right experience based on where someone needs help
  • Create an experience for every visitor based on the relationship
  • Understand how and where people are engaging with us so we can make proper decisions on investment and programs, as well as return on investment
  • The right leads to the right people at the right time. We call this no lead left behind™
  • Relationships through the sales process
  • Be able to measure each step of the way to see where there are gaps, affectionately called driven operations

Now we have a requirement stock to look at everything we now have and see, first of all, whether it meets these requirements.

What requirements do you look for in your CRM system, and what are your thoughts on starting with the requirements first? How do you juggle the requirements of various business units?

Criteria #2 goes beyond the technology aspect and looks at internal and external teams.

There’s a whole lot of other considerations beyond just looking at the technology and figuring out whether it can do what I need to do.

Regardless of value, tuning what you have, or rebuilding, there is a cost to the business in terms of continuing to run programs and stay in front of your audience.

Next questions will revolve around that for determining what to do.

 

Criteria 2

How much work is required from the internal team or vendor to tune or rebuild the tech? Is there a process in place to execute against either plan?

Knowing if you have the right resources and adequate time to rebuild and start from scratch is important to being successful in this endeavor. Before you spend time mapping out all of the pieces, consider who will be doing the heavy lifting and how much time it will take them. This is a project you’ll want to be devoted to.

Curious to see what side of the equation you fall on and if you’ve gone through this process of trying to figure out which way to go? Tune up or rebuild.

 

Criteria 3 & 4 

Each of the systems we evaluated during our tune up or tear down exercise, like any system that may be in your tech stack, has data. Like everyone who has a tech stack, our data lives both inside and outside of its origin platform. 

This got us thinking about why that is, if it’s conducive to our internal processes, if the data truly has an owner, and if there is one source of truth for the data that lives within the platform. 

Getting rid of the stack gets rid of the data and gets rid of ownership. Queue criteria #3: How does that impact the business? Does it? 

An additional criteria that came from this initial question is the intention behind the tool if the data was utilized outside of the platform itself. Criteria #4: Was the system being utilized differently than its originally intended use? 

If utilized outside of its original purpose, does this make the technology obsolete in such a way that we’re not able to reign it back? We found that to be the case. If the data and ownership are no longer housed inside the platform, they can probably be tossed. 

Does your organization utilize data outside of its origination point? If so, do you see this as a pro or con to the toss it out decision?

 

Criteria 5

Understanding the number of tools you have and how they’re being used—and #6: Does the tool have intrinsic value in your organization’s infrastructure or is it used by an individual?

With Criteria #5, regarding the actual cost of things, one of the biggest pills we had to swallow was that we didn’t know what we were paying for at one point in time. How and why did we have a Stamps.com membership? Either way, we were paying for it, and there was zero value in it. 

This was a good gut check for us, having to go through accounting to see what we were paying for. As you can imagine, we tossed those platforms and subscriptions we weren’t aware of. 

When was the last time your organization really itemized the cost centers around your tech stack? If you haven’t done so recently, you might want to take a look. Let me know what recurring payment surprised you!

Stemming from the cost center discussion, for criteria #6, is the tool being used company-wide or by an individual, and does that matter from a cost center? I thought about this, as we have a diverse team of seasoned professionals at MRM who come from various professional backgrounds with tool preferences. 

If a tool was a massive part of an individual’s work style and how they operated, we kept it, even if it was only utilized by one person on the team. Organizationally, we decided to consolidate items, like task management tools, into our existing HubSpot instance as we do most of our work there already, and it was one less step for checking items off our list (if you’re interested in doing this too, reach out!).

What are your thoughts on tools at the individual vs. organizational level? Have you found that one platform for the greater good has been more impactful than letting individuals pick what works for them? 

 

Conclusion 

Has your organization gone through a similar process? If you haven’t and need help really digging into the value of each tool and how others can be optimized, let us know!