How to build your tech stack
Operational technology can be either a powerful set of tools for your business, or a collection of frustrating experiences that make you dread logging on to your computer. Building a tech stack that works for your business doesn’t happen by accident.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t until you’ve already spent the time and money.
In our last blog we talked about the things to consider when choosing software for your business, and in this blog we’ll look at the 6 categories of software that make up a tech stack, and help you start from the foundational piece.
What is a tech stack?
The collection of tools, platforms, apps, and pieces of software that a company uses to build its products, carry out its business operations, and monitor its performance metrics.
We group these apps into 6 categories, but depending on your business, there may be more.
- Operations: This is usually your point of sale and inventory management tools.
- Client management: Your CRM (Customer relationship management) software.
- Financial: This is the software that manages payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable, tax, and produces reports for financial reporting.
- Productivity: HR and productivity management tools give you insight into staff hours, turnover, and where time is spent. Some tools allow you to receive employee feedback, and conduct annual reviews.
- Team management: HR tools to capture personal info required for employment, like privacy commitments, hiring contracts, or professional certifications.
- Marketing: This software works with your CRM to guide prospects along that journey to becoming happy customers. This category also includes things like content management, websites, and social media.
Why do these tools need to work together?
Well, they don’t have to, but when they do they provide valuable insight into how your business is performing and why.
- Imagine the savings you could capture if you knew for sure whether your walk-in sales were related to free customer referrals or your paid digital marketing campaigns?
- How much more efficient could your company be if you knew how your employees were using their time, and could find a way to help them use it better?
Would you sleep better at night knowing that you were putting aside the correct amounts of money for your next GST installment?
How do we start to build our tech stack?
A cohesive tech stack is essential from an accounting and operational perspective, so we start there. Gone are the days of paper ledgers and shoeboxes of receipts; with the right apps, today’s business can run almost entirely off one’s phone.
A robust accounting system should allow for:
- Tracking and categorizing of expenses
- Tracking income
- Monitoring tax liabilities
- Accepting payments
- Running payroll
- Bank reconciliation
- In-depth financial reporting
What are the options?
The popular options on the market are Xero, Quickbooks, Sage, and Oracle.
Note: software changes frequently, so prices, offerings, and integrations may be updated as time goes by.
Quickbooks online allows for a limited number of users (5) and only 250 accounts in your chart of accounts – depending on how complex your business is, this may limit you down the line. The enterprise version removes those limits, and the desktop version becomes a hybrid model of qbo and online. QB charges a base rate plus an additional fee per user, so cost may become an issue, depending on how many users you need.
Sage Accounting was a bit late to the cloud implementation movement, and has limited app integrations (less than 50), and their desktop integration model seems to have some sync issues. They do have a cloud option that is better suited for larger companies, but that cost is upward of $40,000 a year.
Oracle is an incredibly powerful tool with many modules – It’s commonly referred to as a Full Integration ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning). Data centres for Oracle are not in Canada, so companies may run into reporting requirement issues, depending on their industry. This powerful ERP offers almost everything you could need – CRM, Marketing, HR management, and even support for manufacturing and supply chain management, but the complexity of having them work together requires the assistance of a developer. This tool comes with a hefty base price, and goes up from there.
Xero is a great sweet spot for most businesses – with 400 integrative apps available, this system is 100% cloud based, and allows for unlimited users. Data servers reside in Canada, and their security meets all the highest standards of the reporting and security requirements of our industry. The platform comes with Data and Expense storage through Hubdocs, and most importantly, we think it’s one of the easiest platforms for non-accountants to use.
And ease of use is the key
Some software offers so many options that it’s hard to decide what parts you need and what parts you don’t. Xero is a great foundation for your business finances, and allows you to add on the pieces you need when you need them.
In our next blog, we’ll lay out some of the most popular apps that work with Xero, and help you sift through the next steps to build your tech stack.
If you have any questions about how to choose the right software for your business, or need help making it work for you, get in touch with us at [email protected].
Crescendo Accounting & Consulting is a Xero partner. You can find out more about our relationship on our website.