Your Questions Answered: Strategy for Tech Stack Consolidation
Determining your strategy for consolidating two or more tech stacks can be a daunting task. Many companies don’t perform this often and are unsure of how to go about it. As SaaS growth experts, OpFocus made our in house experts available to the community for an open discussion. We invited anyone to join us and ask questions on the topic. These are your top questions around the strategy for tech stack consolidation.
When a company goes through merger or acquisition, do you have advice on whether to keep tech stacks separate or roll them up?
This is a decision every organization needs to make during a roll-up and there is never a clear black and white answer to this question. The best place to start is to do a side by side comparison, looking at the tech stack of each company. Typically there is some good you will want to keep from each of the tech stacks. Rarely do we see companies that will start from scratch, but this is a viable option.
Selecting the organization that has the most good to retain is usually the best place to start. Begin with a high-level prioritization of the processes that are most important to you or ones that are in the most need of improvement. Pick out the top 5-15 processes, then take the time to sit down and evaluate the two tech stacks. Look at how are things done at each organization and think about what you want the final tech stack to look like. Include people that understand each of the processes and ultimately make the call as to what we keep and what you’ll retire.
Some evaluation criteria we begin with include:
- Process Effectiveness – How effective is this process in driving the right behaviors and maximizing key KPIs (ARR, growth, new logos, customer sat)?
- Process Maturity – How sophisticated, automated, and scalable is this business process? How much manual work is required? Will this process allow us to grow/adapt easily in the future?
- Data Quality – How complete, accurate, and valuable is the data that is produced (or exists) in the org/object based on our current and future business needs?
- Adoption – How well is the process used? How user-friendly is it?
As your company is scaling or growing, how should you assess existing processes to see if we should keep and evolve them or grow new systems from the ground up?
It’s important to be in close contact with users and understand what’s happening on the front lines. One way to do this is to periodically ask your users. One thing Jim has done is to create a group of superusers that know the processes well and are willing to be open about how things are going and what is working.
Taking the time to watch what your users are doing is another great way to understand the processes. This can help expose process problems and training issues. Once you identify any problem areas, you can take the appropriate steps to address them. Governance ensures you are doing the right things and the most important things for the business. You can still move fast but doing so in a way that avoids the pitfalls of not carefully evaluate process changes.
A team of stakeholders that understand your Salesforce instance that includes business users and IT users is another way to understand how your processes are working. Process requirements should come from business users who can articulate business requirements. They should however leave the solutions to those that have a solid understanding of how to configure the change in Salesforce.
We have issues with communicating processes and getting buy-in, what advice do you have around this?
One thing we recommend is holding demo days during lunchtime. This helps get the word out on all the great things your team is doing. You’re able to give value back to business users and get your internal team more excited about their work. Holding demos on new Salesforce features is another great idea. This helps business users understand the value the new products can provide.
Finding a video or blog on new Salesforce releases is another easy place to start. With so much content already available, you can easily condense it into a few points for your business users. Appointing champions in each business group is another idea that’s worked in the past. This approach provides a point of contact for you and helps each area of business understand the value of Salesforce.
How do we keep our business process people and tech staff aligned as we go through a consolidation?
Without proper alignment, teams can rapidly start producing solutions that are inconsistent with what users want. For this reason, having a cross-functional strategy that each team can follow is crucial. Ensuring there is good documentation around the requirements and solutions is also important. Including end-users involved in the review and testing of your solutions is valuable to make sure the result is consistent with their needs. Having business personal take salesforce training is another way to make the conversation more fruitful.
Your team needs to have an understanding when you are not aligned as well. Sometimes teams will have shadow IT groups that is doing the IT independently. Another indicator is when you have too many tools in an organization. In these situations, teams will take a “tool first” approach where they bring on a new tool for each issue. All of these are indicators of misalignment between teams.
What’s the best way to evaluate if we can or need to consolidate a tech stack. Are there vendors that can provide the whole solution?
In the last 5 years, it’s become almost impossible to keep up with the number of available tools. It’s critical to be aware of what your true needs are. Once this is done, you should periodically document how your tech stack meets those needs. Generally speaking, there are trade-offs that must be made. There is rarely a solution that provides all the features you’ll need in one package. We recommend looking at multiple options and letting your users trial each one before making a buying decision.
Often we’ll find a solution was brought on to solve one issue but has additional functionality that is not being used. Reaching out to your vendors to understand all the features available to you can sometimes eliminate the need for another tool.
We are moving to a SaaS model and starting to use metrics like ARR and MRR; should we use Salesforce/CRM data for these metrics or use ERP data?
Salesforce is not an ERP system. It’s great for things like forecasting or providing information around things like ARR. We recommend using it for metrics that Sales needs such as deal forecasting and compensation calculations. From a financial standpoint, when reporting to shareholders or any type of regulatory compliance, the information should come out of the companies financial system. This lets you be more fine-tuned in the data you provide then what you would be doing in Salesforce.
Jim Simon mentions that there are instances where you may want to use both. He says you’ll want to be confident in that data. Since most ERP systems have been around for generations, we tend to trust this more often. The data needs to be readily available in both through some type of integration. As long as you can get a high level of confidence with your data, it should not matter where it lives.
How to justify or promote features or functionality to users?
Those of us that are close to the Salesforce platform hear about new functionality we’d like our company to adopt. All too often, however, there’s resistance. To this, we say “results speak louder than words.” Jim recommends running your own piolet of the feature and building a case for it. Recruiting a few users for a trial run and tracking their improvement helps build your case.
Make sure you present your results to a leader that can help implement this feature in a more widescale manner. If your results show a reduction in time or performance improvement, it will go a long way in swaying the minds of upper management.
At the end of the discussion, Jim thanked everyone for bringing your Questions Around the Strategy for Tech Stack Consolidation. We hope that as you begin the process of bringing your tech stacks together, many of your questions have been answered and you feel more prepared. Our team of in house experts is always available to discuss your project and offer advice.