This is the fourth part in a 10-part series by Coalition Technologies on replatforming.
Without running a technology audit for a replatforming project, you risk missing the opportunity to understand if your new platform is going to cause more problems than your previous one. Furthermore, if you don’t run a total cost of ownership analysis, you might have the wrong budget and put yourself in debt attempting to replatform. To give you and your team the best chance at replatforming successfully, learn what makes these two audits so important and how to conduct them.
What Is a Technology Audit?
A technology audit examines the current integrations of your existing platform and your technology stack. Technical analysis specifications may also consider must-have integrations such as payment gateways and shipping solutions, server performance, and the architecture of the current platform.
This audit helps companies visualize how a new platform will work with existing software and transition smoothly. If your current platform is operating soundly, you can use it as a benchmark to find a platform with similar capabilities in addition to improvements. By carefully answering questions and completing a technology audit, you can possibly save yourself time and money by avoiding costly mistakes and useless labor.
What Is a Total Cost of Ownership Analysis?
When replatforming, it is important to consider the total cost of ownership to avoid going over your ecommerce project budget. To get an accurate assessment of your total costs you need to look at the initial build costs and predicted ongoing costs (once your website is live).
For example, initial build costs or capital expenditures (CAPEX) are purchases made towards replatforming. Predicted ongoing costs or operating expenses (OPEX) are your day-to-day expenses. While you are going through the list of possible expenses, reach out to all the relevant stakeholders for updated price amounts. You can then use this information to perform market research on the available platforms and determine if your ROI will make sense with your current total cost of ownership analysis.
How To Run a Technology Audit
You’ll go through key points in your tech stack to identify if what you currently have is working, why it is or isn’t, and how you can improve. Below are the fundamental areas you should consider when running your technology audit.
Frontend Development Capabilities
Take an inventory from your developers and see what kinds of problems they encounter regularly when running a technology audit. This will provide a great starting point on what issues need the most attention. Find out if your frontend team is dependent on the backend team for any reason and remove bottlenecks in the process.
You don’t want one team being held up because the other needs to finish their job first. Ideally, this process should always work simultaneously. Frontend also means looking at your checkout system and sales pages. Ask your team and yourself how you can continue to increase conversions to make more revenue once people get to these steps in your sales cycle.
About 88% of online customers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. Getting your site to a good place is crucial for repeat customers. One final look at your promotion efforts for the website will finish up the frontend portion of your audit. See how your system is handling different promotions and sales and if it is meeting your requirements.
This is another area where you can reach out to your team for information rather than relying on a report. Ask them what issues they are having and what their biggest problem areas are. Because the backend deals mainly with data and managing that data, you’ll want to take a look at how the current process is going in your technology audit.
See if you are losing data or which data points are no longer relevant to your business but taking up valuable time and energy. Are you able to manage your database tables effectively and can your current system scale with the growth periods you have coming up?
How is your current website being built and is there a specific coding language that is limiting you from developing what you need? Take stock of what the team wants to do during your technology audit and how they want to grow to see if the new platform is going to be able to offer your needs.
Go through your current traffic data and see how your website performed over the three most visited times. First impressions are everything as 39% of people won’t visit a website for a second time if the images won’t or take too long to load. If your site slowed down or shut down, then it’s time to take a look at the infrastructure to see what can be done.
Changing over to a new platform will require an in-depth look at the integrations you have set up. Not every platform is going to work smoothly with one another. Doing your research ahead of time will save you from making an expensive move.
The only way to know if you’re going to make a wrong move is by understanding more about your current integrations when running your technology audit. Make note of which systems are critical for your business and then go through each one and survey your team on what their biggest pain points are.
If you aren’t able to have a fully functioning system because of a bad integration, troubleshoot a solution for your new platform.
Server Performance Benchmarks
Your server is one of the most important parts of the system as it is always running in the background. The problem is making the time to give it the attention it deserves.
During your technology audit, see how your bandwidth has been functioning and if there have been any security issues. These can be improved by transferring over to a new server or host.
Consider checking your system’s architecture during an audit as this is something often overlooked in day-to-day operations. See if your architecture is coupled or decoupled and if a move to a headless commerce platform would help, or hinder, your process.
How To Run a Total Cost of Ownership Analysis
By going through each part of your project and identifying the cost of each, you and your team will be able to accurately assess just how much everything is going to cost.
CAPEX means any costs you incur while setting up your new platform. That’s different from OPEX costs which are future ongoing costs you need to take into account. The first consideration for CAPEX costs is the pre-build and consulting fees you’ll take on. Hiring someone to talk to about the current platform you are using and the new platform you plan on switching to may help you save time when doing your research.
Any outside contractors such as developers, project managers, or quality assurance will also be included as part of these costs. About 94% of negative website feedback is design-related so taking the time and money to outsource can have positive results. Another consideration are costs associated with the delivery of your new platform, agencies, and other technical expenses.
Hiring an outside agency to perform some of your work will require a budget just like any apps or software you need to purchase to get everything running smoothly. The last CAPEX cost you’ll want to estimate is any expense from testing your site or training for your employees on the new platform.
This is the part of the analysis that most business owners overlook or forget to include in their final projections. These costs will be ongoing so your projection might translate to a year’s worth of service.
If you plan on hiring any service or agency, their retainer costs should be included in your analysis. This will help you understand the true total cost of your replatforming process.
Any fees associated with your website or third-party tools will also be on an ongoing basis and will be included in OPEX costs.
Technology and Total Cost of Ownership Audit
Including a technology audit in your replatforming process will help you determine if your current tech stack is meeting your needs or causing more troubles and issues. If you are concerned about going over budget, a total cost of ownership audit can help you budget correctly by looking over all of the project costs and ongoing costs.
In the next part of our Replatforming Series, read about how you can use this information to prepare your RFP.