How to choose the right productivity tech stack

Your organization has put a lot of thought into building its tech stack for application development—but how carefully have you curated the toolset that enables your team to do its best work? 

It’s likely that you already have a handful of tools that help your team with project management and communication. The problem isn’t that your team struggles to talk to each other—it’s that they’re talking to each other through too many different channels, making it difficult to identify a single source of truth at any given time. If you conduct an inventory of your existing systems, you’ll likely realize that various pieces of similar information live in several locations, none of which is likely complete or current.

So how do you solve this problem? We’ve outlined a few ways to get started thinking about your own productivity tech stack as the first steps toward an air-tight knowledge-sharing action plan.

Audit your stack

Conduct a full audit of your productivity, project management, and communication tools. Which ones are your team members actively using? Which ones have overlap or redundancies? What use case is best for each platform? 

Most team and department leaders will find that even within relatively small teams, people are using multiple tools and processes for finding and storing information to get their jobs done. As teams evolve, new tools are requested - but if they’re not being used, it’s definitely worth investigating why and come up with a plan to either remove or replace. 

Understand the use cases

By understanding how teams need to communicate or share knowledge across the organization or within a department, you’ll be able to map existing tools to specific use cases. This will bubble up any overlap and gaps within your existing toolset.

It may also help you better understand your team processes and behaviors. Maybe you’ll find that your assumptions about how a team is communicating are wrong.

Streamline

Once you’ve identified which tools that are already in your arsenal are worth keeping, jettison the others and build a dedicated process for how and when to use each tool. Look for gaps in functionality—for example, while Slack may be ideal for asking a question about what you’re working on right now, it may not be ideal for getting context on a product feature that your development team built three months ago. 

If a technical team needs to document specific projects for internal and external purposes, understand how each member of the team does that. Create one central process around various use cases that come up often within the team and document this.

Supplement

Once you’ve found your gaps, find solutions that will fill them. One core problem that many teams have is identifying a unified source of knowledge. To this end, consider investing in a knowledge-sharing platform where users can ask, answer, and vote on questions, with space for multiple employees to contribute their feedback and provide additional context. This can ensure that important information is documented in a single location, with a crowdsourced model that allows users to replace and update information as needed.

For other use cases, enlist a small working group of stakeholders to identify tools and processes that will help solve for specific use cases. By getting a diverse group of stakeholders involved in identifying and validating new tools, you’ll have a better chance of team members adopting and using the product.

Once you’ve done this, it’s not a one-time deal—take the time to regularly analyze your development team’s entire communication tool set regularly, taking in their feedback to understand what’s working well for them and what they’re missing. By building a strong communication tech stack, your team will be able to learn from each other more effectively, and increase their development velocity.

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