Developing the right operations and marketing tech stack is a crucial part of optimizing your agency’s efficiency. Identifying the tech stack that works for your specific team is essentially how your agency builds its technical foundation.
Agencies in growth mode need to figure out the appropriate technology for operational workflow and efficiency in order to scale and increase profit margin.
But what constitutes the “right” tech stack? There are so many solutions out there. Some solutions are open-source. Others are costly but more comprehensive in nature. Some solutions offer limited features but may have just the suite of capabilities you need. In this post, we’ll look at factors to consider as you build your tech stack.
1. Size of Agency
The type of applications, programs, and systems you choose to operate your business greatly depend on the number of people your applications will serve. First, take inventory of how big your staff is. Include all employees, contractors, and any vendors who may use any of your programs. Some applications work better for different-sized outfits.
2. Primary Service
What is your agency’s niche? Strategic planning or consulting? Digital marketing? Specialized services? This has a massive impact on your needs for the ideal tech stack.
Whatever your area of expertise, choose applications that cater to the needs of your specific industry. Consider the operational and marketing tools you and your clients will need to ensure you’re not looking to fill gaps with other systems or applications later. It’s the equivalent of a craftsman confirming their toolbox contains the right tools before starting the job.
3. Annual Budget
When investigating different IT systems, have frank conversations with any clients regarding their budget for recurring software subscriptions. If you provide them with a list of pros and cons for the various options, make sure to include pricing data as well. Note whether the software is renewed annually or monthly.
Imagine starting work on a project only to realize you miscalculated the budget six months in and don’t have enough capital left over to complete it. Your budget has to be a factor before you can identify new systems.
4. Technical Capabilities
There are several questions you should consider regarding your agency’s current tech savvy, or IT capabilities, before implementing your tech stack:
- Does your agency currently possess the technical staff needed to manage the multiple systems your tech stack may require?
- If going with an all-inclusive program for your entire tech stack, do you have an IT coordinator sophisticated enough to manage a system that large?
- If you don’t have existing IT staff, do you have the budget to identify an external vendor with a helpdesk for 24/7 support?
- What types of software does your team currently use?
This list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s an example of a few considerations you should have. You may not have a simple time answering these questions on your own and may need to poll numerous people within your agency, but it’s important to do this before executing. Taking stock in your agency’s current set of IT capabilities will help you avoid management issues later.
5. Company Culture
When identifying the right systems for your agency to use, it’s important to understand how your agency currently works. Consider your culture, how you communicate internally and externally, and how adaptable to change your people have been in the past. If you’re in multiple locations, how well integrated is your team? Do they operate using agile methodology or is their work more siloed? How do they communicate and collaborate with clients—and how do your clients feel about your systems?
Selecting a tech stack tailored to your agency’s current workflow will help your team thrive. It also cuts down the learning curve your team may face if you ask them to work in a system that isn’t compatible with your agency’s current culture. Selecting an adaptive technology at the outset that can be phased in allows for a more seamless transition than forcing your team to adapt immediately to an entirely foreign system.
6. What Are You Trying To Do?
This is perhaps the most important question. Are you trying to communicate more effectively internally, with clients, or both? Are you attempting to streamline your workflow? Are you trying to reduce redundancy and expenses? Your tech stack should depend first and foremost on your agency’s particular mission. Figure this out first by having your leadership team list all of your challenges, requirements and ideal outcomes—and definitely be sure to vet those by the team members who will actually be using the systems!
It’s super important to note that there’s no blanket solution for every agency. You have to find the tech stack that works best for your agency based on your size, services, IT capabilities, culture, and mission.
It’s also important to remember that an even an all-in-one agency management solution, such as Workamajig or Deltek Workbook, will require additional MarTech software for prospecting, business development, proposals, service execution, and client reporting.