Building Your Tech Stack with Software Integration
The influence of mass changes to business processes in the previous years is likely to become a permanent fixture in our work lives. Technological and digital tools adopted by companies to overcome challenges presented by the unprecedented requirements of virtual and remote working situations may have resulted in impulsive purchases, due to the lack of necessary time for competitive analysis and proper evaluations.
While typically companies would spend weeks if not months researching and trialling software to see if it was the right fit for their specific needs, the suddenness of the pandemic forced many employers to make decisive (and often expensive) choices on software subscriptions that allowed business to keep moving during the lockdowns.
Now that the working world has had time to adjust and explore new digital tools, business owners and leaders may now wish to re-evaluate the systems they onboarded and explore competitors that could offer them more.
Building a technology stack, or ‘tech stack’, with software integrations plays a vital role in enabling company growth through software. However, the amalgamation of various systems built up across the past years may not work best together and could be slowing down your business processes. Not all software systems integrate well and so it's worth checking how your business building blocks fit together from time to time for the sake of user experience and the overall efficiency of your various programs. The absence of seamless integration between say, your practice management system and your digital document management software can cause issues with both platforms and slow down your workflow.
In our guide, we’ve outlined how a technology stack works, how to build one, and the benefits of compatible software integration within it.
What Is a Tech Stack?
A tech stack is a set of digital tools and systems that allow a business or organisation to automate, streamline, and increase the efficiency of existing workflows and processes. By using tech stacks effectively, a business can achieve its goals, maximise team productivity and open up new, innovative ways to progress and generate more revenue.
The core part of your business, including software, web applications and other systems that help your employees complete their daily tasks are all a part of your tech stack. Think of them like building blocks that all rest on, and rely upon, the one below it. Or like a row of dominoes all being triggered by the movement of the one before it to create an automatic chain reaction. That sort of smooth process should be a little like how your technology communicates with one another, but that's not always the reality.
Used for various reasons and applicable to multiple industries and departments, common tech stacks could include marketing tech stacks, HR, payroll, and a financial solutions stack. These are vital for improving collaboration between departments and clients, and for supporting growth. If the tools your marketing team use to record contact information isn't cooperating with the customer relationship management solution your sales team are using, then you are having to duplicate information that only needs to be in your system once. That's an example of an inefficient tech stack, where you have two things that can both do the same thing and neither one will communicate with the other. That also eats up the time of both your sales team and marketing team (or whichever departments can't collaborate effectively), as they both have to update and add new information separately. That's not an efficient use of time or resources.
How to Build a Tech Stack
Implementing an effective tech stack will equip your business with the right set of tools to prioritise workloads, maximise productivity and, succeed in business. It can help connect teams and departments, help automate processes, as well as help reduce mundane admin tasks and therefore increase efficiency and data security. As you may know, at Virtual Cabinet, we're really interested in improving productivity in the workplace, so we know a little something about integrated software components.
We also know that building the right tech stack can be complicated. That’s why we’ve included some tips on how to build a tech stack correctly to increase the efficiency of your business operations.
Start with Collaboration
For software integration to work as successfully as possible, collaboration across all sectors of your business software should be your priority. When deciding on which software or applications should be used in your tech stack you should consult those it will affect most. Ensuring that all employees can have a say on their pain points and express their views on the tools they are currently using and would wish to use in the future will help you to decide which tools will be most useful.
In terms of collaboration between different departments and different tech stacks, having one central system that all departments use can be extremely useful for optimised communication between departments. A document management system allows employees and clients to improve their communication with one another. Digital document storage options allow employees to view and track files, and chase clients who haven’t yet electronically signed documents.
Focus on Outcomes
Focusing on exactly what you want to achieve in the future of the business will help you to narrow your focus and evaluate the tools you need to achieve these outcomes. During the pandemic, many businesses scrambled to find as many systems as possible that helped them implement virtual and remote working opportunities, without considering how this would affect their software integrations.
Now that you’re focusing on building your tech integrations, it is important to consider what you’re trying to achieve and what is preventing these outcomes from succeeding? By focusing on outcomes, you can avoid clogging up your workflows in the future.
What is the one area to focus on when choosing your business software stack? Is your customer experience below expectations? Are your sales teams struggling to cope with queries? Is your manual software slowing down new product features? Are your customer interactions in the typical customer journey falling below the mark? By focusing on your teams’ issues and specific business requirements, then you can implement software integrations that help resolve these problems and meet your targets. For instance, including a client portal can allow for clear lines of communication between your business and your clients.
An automatic filing system will help free up precious time, so your employees can focus on the more skilled tasks you actually employ them for. Automatic email capture will also help your email communications to create an accurate correspondence trail for each case, client, or task. This certainly beats having to spare someone to trawl back through pages of emails to find one specific piece of information on a client.
Consider Technical Skills
Are you going to use off-the-shelf software, or implement a bespoke software system? Using a commercial system may seem simple but using a one-size-fits-all approach may harm your system integrations in the future. Being able to customise your tech stack means you can create custom workflows that best suit your employees and your clients.
Bespoke software can also have specific systems for certain departments, such as marketing or IT. These tech stacks will allow everyone to work together, without having to implement different systems that may not work cohesively with one another. If your practice management, case management system or CRM does not integrate well with your document management system, then it can end up slowing you down in executing common work processes.
If your business doesn’t already employ highly skilled IT staff, then you may need a software development team to help you get to where you want to be. Using a third-party document management software product (DMS) may also be easier, quicker, and more cost-effective for your company than a DIY approach, as you know you will always have their specific support team to help you with any issues.
How to Approach Software Integration
Before getting started on implementing your tech integration systems, it’s important to follow some important guidelines. Here’s how we think you should approach system integrations:
1. Complete a Tech Stack Audit
It’s important to know exactly what systems you have in place before you add an additional tool to them. Plus, you don’t want to run the risk of getting rid of a piece of software that a team heavily uses and enjoys. Once you know what software is in your software arsenal and how many employees use them, then you can start cutting and adding software integrations. You might even be able to make like for like swaps and save your budget some money while you're at it.
2. Question Why Are You Using this Tool
Are you holding onto this system just because of its legacy in the business? Is the user interface outdated and hard to use, but your team are just used to it now? Are your employees concerned about change and learning new technology? Without innovation, your business will struggle to grow. By adding to or optimising your software integrations, you can streamline workflows and upskill your employees.
3. Designate a Responsible Party
It may seem simple, but software integrations will require maintenance and feedback. Whether you are using a third-party company to supply and support your document management software, or implementing your own software integrations, someone must keep track of what’s working well and what may be causing issues. By regularly checking on how your employees are finding the software, issues can be easily resolved.
4. Think About the Future
The rapid evolution and innovation of digital technology shows no signs of slowing, so it’s important to consider how your business may use tech integrations and software in the future. Young employees will expect good software, so your business should always seek to keep evolving and updating where necessary. Embracing and integrating new technology into your tech stack will keep you ahead of your competitors and firmly on the right side of the profit margin. Using the latest software integrations may also attract new customers and clients.
Building an optimal tech stack with the right collection of tools and software integrations will help your business achieve its goals and create new innovative ways of working. Reflecting on and evaluating what systems you already have in place and strategically reducing overly complicated or 'clunky' integrations can help improve workflows and therefore increase productivity.
If you’re thinking about implementing a digital document management system into your business software tech stack, then you're in luck. Virtual Cabinet has the best DMS products on the market for integrating with all major Practice Management, IPS, Case Management, and CRM systems. Integration is what we're really good at. Well, that and managing documents, of course.
Let us prove it. Why not book a free demo today?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Tech Stack?
A tech stack is a commonly used term for your arsenal of software, computer programs and applications that aid in the day-to-day running of your business. Things such as your email, calendar, internal messaging facility, office suite, and document management system are all in your tech stack. Most companies of any size will also have some kind of Customer Relationship Management tool that will keep track of your customer journey and contacts. Some industries refer to these as Practice Management, Case Management, IPS, or CRM solutions. The better all your separate programs work together, the smoother your business will run.
What Do You Need in a Tech Stack?
One of the most vital tools to have in your company’s tech stack is a document management system. Whether it’s a cloud-based, hybrid, or server-based system, having a way of electronically storing, segmenting, and sharing documentation is vital for the success of any business in a world where remote working is now a concrete part of our work culture. A digital document management system will aid your data storage compliance practices and allow every colleague to securely access and edit relevant company documents wherever they are in the world.