How to maintain your tech stack to meet your business needs

It’s vital for businesses to maintain their tech stacks, but that can be easier said than done in today’s environment. To say that the world of technology is rapidly changing is both obvious and an understatement. But it’s more than technological developments, it’s also the industry itself that’s evolving. 

As more companies merge, are acquired, or are purchased, businesses must remain agile to ensure their tech stacks meet current and future needs. Learn about what’s been happening across the fintech industry, what it could mean for you, and how to prepare your tech stack.

Mergers and acquisitions create uncertainty for tech stack functionality

The tech industry has been a hotbed of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity for years now. Even though things cooled off in the second half of 2022, they’re picking up speed once again. It’s an exciting time that can help lead to new advancements, improved efficiency, and more streamlined offerings. It can also create uncertainty among legacy customers faced with a tech stack that could become outdated or change its functionality. 

In just the last few years, we’ve seen several high-profile acquisitions in the world of fintech and specifically in tax compliance. The impacts of these deals have rippled throughout the industry, and raise some valid considerations when it comes to the state of your existing tech stack and when you’re thinking of adding tax compliance to your stack.

While investments and acquisitions can generally be positive developments for a company, they can also make it difficult to define priorities for the future and ensure consistency throughout the business. While everyone wants the same thing, a successful and profitable company, so many changes and different directions can also make for a less agile environment and raise questions among customers.

One example of this kind of activity is when Sovos was acquired by Hg in 2016 and received significant additional investment in 2020 from TA Associates. Similarly, tax compliance platform TaxJar was acquired in 2021 by Stripe, the online payment processing giant. Naturally, any shift this large is bound to come with changes, and this is where it pays for businesses to be vigilant of their tech stack. That includes being aware of your core apps. In the case of TaxJar, TaxJar’s tax calculation feature was deprecated and replaced with Stripe Tax. It’s worthwhile to monitor these types of changes because they could have an impact on the life cycle of your larger tech stack.

Even Avalara is in this boat having been acquired by Vista Equity Partners in 2022. This further illustrates the appetite among venture capital for tech companies, particularly those in fintech. Avalara’s unique position as a leader in tax compliance software made it an attractive proposition to Vista. This faith is reflected by the private equity firm’s continued support and belief in Avalara’s core products, mission, and direction, helping to create customer confidence as opposed to raising questions.

With so many major changes taking place across fintech and tax compliance landscapes, it’s more important than ever that companies prepare their tech stacks to support the needs of their business. But what can companies do to get what they need now and avoid potential complications down the line?

How do you manage and maintain your tech stack?

Your tech stack consists of the different software and technological solutions you use to develop and run your website, web application, or mobile platform. These solutions are “stacked” together to create a greater whole (your application or platform) from the sum of its parts (your stack). However, with so many different elements it’s crucial that these components work together seamlessly and can be supported and updated when you need them. 

That’s a big reason why it’s critical for businesses to keep an eye on what’s happening with their solution providers. A feature or integration that was available yesterday may not be available today. Here are some of the things you can do to get the most from your tech stack and maintain it for the long haul.

Keep an eye on the life cycle of your stack

One of the simplest commonsense considerations of your tech stack is to remain mindful of the life cycle of your solutions. Do you have any solutions that may be out of date? Perhaps a company was acquired and is shifting to a new product. These types of changes in a company can result in all kinds of adjustments, like when TaxJar ceased supporting its NetSuite integration for new users

It’s imperative to have the most up-to-date version of whichever software you’re using. Nothing can throw a wrench into a tech stack like a solution reaching the end of its life cycle. By keeping a watchful eye on the status of your solutions, and if and when they may be deprecated, you can help safeguard that your stack can continue to meet the needs of your business. 

Monitor your business needs and make sure your stack grows with it

No one knows the needs of your company better than you, which means there’s no one more qualified to verify your tech stack meets the needs of your business. That’s why it’s essential to make time to take stock of your stack to see if it’s doing just that. 

Is your business expanding? Maybe you’ve grown internationally and find yourself grappling with a new set of rules and regulations. Perhaps your business growth has necessitated a faster and more efficient returns process. Your increased sales may come with added tax obligations in new states or the need to manage more exemption certificates. Whatever your needs may be, evaluating your tech stack to see that it meets them can help your stack stay current.

Spot any redundancies or gaps in your stack

When evaluating your tech stack, it’s prudent to take a hard look at what you’re already using and what you really need. When was the last time you analyzed everything your tech stack actually does? Depending on your service provider and the size of your solutions, there’s a chance you may have different instances of software that do the same thing.

Redundancies in your tech stack aren’t just unnecessary expenses, they’re inefficient. Having multiple email service providers, scheduling apps, or communications tools can be confusing and impractical, creating inconsistencies in how you do business. 

While you’re checking for redundancies, it’s also wise to look for any gaps you may have in your tech stack. Are your current solutions actually meeting all the needs of your business? Maybe your stack meets your needs now, but what if the business changes? If you were to grow into a new market or add a new product or service, is your existing stack prepared to support you? Taking the time to evaluate the full scope of your stack can help you avoid paying for services you don’t use or paying for the same service twice, and reinforce that you have the tools you need for today and tomorrow. 

Migrate to the cloud

A helpful way to keep your tech stack steady is by having it in the cloud. Hardware and on-premises solutions can be cumbersome and inflexible, making it difficult for a business to pivot when necessary. Migrating your solutions to the cloud makes it much easier to find and apply the updates you need to keep your stack running smoothly and efficiently. 

Thanks to the cloud, the need for infrastructure is practically negated, making it significantly easier to make the adjustments you need, as you need them. What’s more, cloud computing makes updating your tech stack a breeze and helps keep solutions up to date, functional, and relevant.

On top of that, security can also be improved thanks to those regular updates. Tech changes all the time, and that means the security needs of your solutions also change. Regular updates through the cloud help ensure your tech stack is running the latest and most effective tools to keep your data, and your company, secure.

Why you need a flexible solution and robust API that grows with you

Of course, one of the most effective ways to manage your tech stack is to make sure you pick the right solutions to begin with. By paying attention to the recommendations above, you can be more certain your tech stack is doing what you need, the way you need it to.

As it approaches its 20-year anniversary, Avalara’s position as a trusted leader in the tax compliance industry has been constant. With more than 1,200 signed partner integrations, and more software and platform integrations being developed all the time, Avalara has the tools and consistency customers require to stay tax compliant. 

It helps to have a tech stack with a robust application programming interface (or API). An API is the tool you use to help the different solutions in your tech stack communicate with each other. For example, it helps make sure your NetSuite ERP integrates with your sales tax calculation engine for the easy transmission of sales data. And if your solution doesn’t already integrate with your stack, it’s important that the API is flexible and customizable enough to let you design the integration you need rather than searching for a new solution.

It’s more than just your integration; your solution must also work across all aspects of your tech stack. This is where a neutral compliance provider can be a boon to your business. A truly neutral provider should be able to operate agnostically with respect to your other apps without regard to competition. If your provider has a conflict of interest, it could directly impact your integration’s capabilities and functionality. 

Consider TaxJar’s acquisition by Stripe: As a payment processing platform, Stripe may have different priorities regarding its integrations and which applications it chooses to work with. It’s just another thing to consider when evaluating the ideal compliance solution for your tech stack. By comparison, Avalara remains focused specifically on tax compliance, allowing you to run the rest of your business with the tools you prefer. By working with a neutral provider, your business can expect the different components of its tech stack to work together in harmony and function as they should.

Ultimately you’re the one making the big decisions when it comes to what your business needs. Evaluating your tech stack and finding agile, scalable solutions is a great way to ensure your tech stack meets the needs of your business both now and in the future no matter what happens.

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