By Adrienne Weissman
The collection of software you use as part of your job, also known as your software stack, is comparable to the human body. The main platforms and systems function like the brain, the heart, and other vital organs, and ancillary add-ons or supplemental tools function similarly to the body’s other parts and appendages. Because we rely on our bodies to perform the necessary functions of life, we should eat well, exercise, and get regular checkups to remain healthy. The same should go for our software. When was the last time your stack had a checkup? Do you feel like your efficiency is not at its peak? These two exams will help you identify potential weaknesses in your stack that could be poisoning your performance.
Gaps in the Software Stack
Gaps in your software stack may appear to be minor, but they can destroy productivity. Each functional piece of a software stack should increase efficiency and quality in daily efforts. But when there’s a gap in the stack, you will be lagging behind more efficient contemporaries.
Take a PR professional as an example. The news game is fast moving, highly competitive, and always changing. PR practitioners can be a master of producing engaging content, but without a regularly updated media database, they are destined to spend countless hours researching reporters and bloggers to engage. Then they begin the arduous process of tracking down contact information for each.
To identify gaps in your stack, first lay out your typical workflow. If you’ve ever kept a food or exercise journal, the concept is similar. What are you doing, when are you doing it, and how long is it taking you? Looking at this breakdown across a few days should highlight some patterns and perhaps inefficiencies. For example, you might notice a few manual tasks are eating up huge chunks of your working week—this is your opportunity to fill a gap with a new software solution.
The second test of your software stack is a bit more difficult. Even if you’ve eliminated the gaps in your stack, the products in your stack could be underperforming and failing to improve the efficiency of your work.
For instance, a new salon might need a simple scheduling tool to book appointments. As the salon adds services, staff, and retail operations, appointments are still being scheduled. However, that same software may no longer sufficiently support the growing business. It might be time to implement a more robust solution that will also help manage stylist resources and the inventory of beauty supplies.
Identifying an underperforming software is challenging, and each product and circumstance come with their own considerations. Peer review platforms can help with this. Sorting functionality allows you to read reviews from comparable users and determine which types of software and specific products help similar companies solve like challenges.
Don’t Be Overwhelmed
When going through these exercises, the prospect of identifying the issues and best solutions can be overwhelming. Luckily, you have experts to turn to for help—your peers. Professionals have been sharing their tech stack and reviews of the products that they use on peer review sites. Take a peek at the structure of a contemporary’s stack and you may quickly see gaps or weak points in your own.
These same contemporaries are a terrific source for identifying the best software solutions to fill gaps or upgrade your software.
The goal of giving your software stack a checkup is to create the most efficient work environment for your team. If you make this an annual activity and take the time for a thorough evaluation, your business will be healthier and more efficient. SW
Adrienne Weissman is the CMO at G2 Crowd, a business software review platform, where she is responsible for the company’s sales and marketing divisions. Prior to this role, she served as LinkedIn’s director of marketing solutions, where she worked directly with global B2B and B2C heavyweights including Accenture, FedEx, Ford, Harvard, and Microsoft.
Jul2016, Software Magazine