Change Management WalkMe TeamUpdated May 2, 2022

Best practice for upgrading tech stacks

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Best practice for upgrading tech stacks

A tech stack can be defined as the mix of technologies that an organization uses to build and run projects and applications. Tech stacks comprise multiple solutions that vary in number and complexity depending on the nature of the organization but, generally, they include frameworks, one or more databases, front- and back-end tools, programming languages and applications.

It is inevitable in any organization that tech stacks will need to be upgraded for a number of reasons. As such, it is important to know when to make this investment, seek out the best solutions for your organization’s needs, and obtain buy-in from management and all employees to ensure a seamless transition. 

Updating early and often can prove to be more cost-effective than waiting until a tech stack has become truly out of date and ineffective. When organizations are tempted by longer contracts with solutions providers, lured by the promise of saving money in the long-run, unexpected consequences can arise. These might include being locked into a long contract when a tech stack is no longer effective, being saddled with a tech stack that cannot be easily upgraded for the remainder of the contract term, and paying more in the long-run when a radical overhaul of the tech stack becomes the only viable solution.

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Why should tech stacks be upgraded?

There are a number of ways to tell when it is time to upgrade tech stacks. These include:

  • Obsolescence: Older tech usually becomes obsolete after a period of time. Sometimes, it may be working well enough, but it has been superseded by better solutions that will make your employees’ working days easier. In other cases, older technology may not be compatible with newer solutions and this can make operations more challenging, especially when your tech needs to connect with external stakeholders.
  • Security concerns: IT security is a top priority for organizations, particularly when tech stacks involve online applications, such as cloud-based solutions. Ideally, tech stacks will be kept up to date with the latest security protections, so that operations can continue with the confidence that security breaches will not occur or be detected early.
  • Entering a new market: In an increasingly globalized world, many companies are leveraging opportunities in markets beyond their national borders. But one of the challenges of doing business with a new market is compliance – dealing with security and data protection regulations that differ from your home country can be the catalyst for upgrading tech stacks.
  • Limits of legacy technology: Flexibility with technology solutions has become increasingly important for staying competitive. Many older tech stacks feature siloed designs that make it difficult for information to move seamlessly and securely within organizations and when communicating externally. Data silos are notorious for slowing down processes and creating duplication. Here, upgrading to cloud solutions is usually the key focus of a digital transformation process, especially when an organization deals with multiple vendors, suppliers, or partners. Investing in technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will help your organization become more data-oriented. 
  • Greater volumes of data: In an era where data has become a powerful and valuable commodity, organizations are investing in ways to gather and analyze data for better business decisions. Data-driven organizations are consistently more successful organizations, so tech stack upgrades that help with managing large swathes of data can be a boon for operations. Better data management can improve agility, overall performance and the ability for an organization to scale up. 
  • Customer service needs improvement: With the rise in AI and ML applications for enhanced customer experiences, making this type of investment as part of a tech stack upgrading program can pay dividends with happier customers and increased revenues.

Implementing the process for upgrading tech stacks

As organizations grow, the need to upgrade tech stacks tends to become more apparent. Organizations that can plan ahead and upgrade tech stacks before problems arise with legacy systems are generally better placed to report ongoing growth and success. 

First, it is important to identify the pain points in an existing tech stack, to work out where failures occur, what could be done better with the investment of upgraded tech stacks, and what technology is available to meet an organization’s individual needs. Once this process has been completed, the next steps include determining a budget for the upgrading project and reviewing the available options in the technology marketplace. It is critical to ensure at this point in the journey that security is a top consideration when choosing the right products.

It is essential to get everyone in the organization on board with the project – never forget the importance of human beings and their role in any technological endeavor. Often, this process starts with obtaining senior management buy-in for the technology investment, which is usually vital for the release of funds to make the necessary purchases.

Next, it is important that all employees are included in this digital transformation process as they will be the ones using the new tech stacks on a daily basis. New solutions for upgraded tech stacks need to be user-friendly for all internal and external stakeholders that will come into contact with the applications. Obtaining buy-in across entire organizations – not just at senior management level – will help with a smooth transition, greater acceptance of new technologies, and ultimately better business decisions and outcomes.

As well as buy-in from management and employees, it is important to consider external stakeholders. If your customers, vendors, suppliers, or other partners need to interact with your tech stack, consult with them about how any changes you make will affect their ability to continue to do business with you. Introducing a new tech stack that does not work well with the technology of external stakeholders can prove expensive if it needs to be upgraded again in a shorter-than-planned timeframe, and even cost companies business.

When tech stacks are upgraded, the importance of training cannot be forgotten about. Regardless of whether the new solutions represent a minor change from legacy systems or a radical new way of working, investing in employee training is as important as investing in the right products. Never forget that humans are still important, regardless of technological advances.

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