Components of a tech stack

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what can go into a product stack. It entirely depends on what kind of products you’re building. But in general, the areas to consider are...



Communication:

This is a major, multi-faceted consideration in your product stack. Your first, and most basic decision to make is how internal communication will go. Most of the tech industry runs on Slack, or Microsoft Teams, as email has been relegated to third-party communications. You need to figure out what will work best for your teams and your organization.


Data management:


You need to decide the best way to collect, store, analyze, and present your data. The one thing you don’t want to do is neglect your product analytics and think to yourself, ‘we’ll invest in X expensive data suite when we have the cash, and we won’t worry about it until then.’ An inexpensive data solution is better than no data solution! So even if all you have access to start with is Google Analytics, that’s better than letting your valuable data slip through your fingers.


As you scale, you’ll need a solution that gets more sophisticated with time. As you iterate on your product, you’ll need a deeper understanding of your customers and how they use your product. You’ll also need to get more people involved in your data and to make it accessible to cross-functional teams. So choosing a suite that is as user-friendly as it is powerful may be key.


HR/people management:

Yes, this is an important consideration in your product stack. The easier your HR/admin processes are, the less brain power they’ll take from team leaders. It should feel effortless to schedule a 1-1 performance review, create a job posting for a new position, and book PTO.


It’s easy to forget to make this a priority when considering your product stack, but making it easier to be an employee at your company makes it easier to build products at your company. Providing a great experience for team members will also increase your employee retention, which both saves money and reduces disruption.


Roadmapping:


Every product person's favorite and most beloved document...the roadmap! Digital roadmapping products have come a long way in recent years, and it’s easier than ever to create, manage, and (most importantly) communicate a product roadmap.



When choosing your roadmap platform, think about all the teams that need to use it, because it’s never just the engineering teams or just the leadership teams. Marketing, design, sales, enterprise...basically anyone in your org can benefit from having access to the roadmap. In certain scenarios, it’s even valuable to have a version of your roadmap that you can communicate with your customers.



Project planning:

Project planning is another important aspect of product development. It may be possible to repurpose your roadmapping tool to use for project planning. But if you’re working at scale with large teams, it may be wiser to invest in a made-for-purpose project planning tool. Picking one great tool that all teams can use will keep everyone using the same platform. You don’t want them to go rogue and have each team using something different, as that’ll make cross-functional collaboration more difficult.


Having one platform for all teams to use helps to facilitate understanding of each other’s capacity, as it helps teams to speak each other's language. Marketing will easily be able to see how much help they can expect from Engineering, Sales will be able to see what launches Marketing has coming up, etc.


Online collaboration:


Online collaboration products have become a category all of their own, whether they be online whiteboards like MURAL or design tools like Figma. (If you’re keen to explore these types of tools, we’ve created some free templates to get you started!)


The coolest thing about these products, and what makes them a worthwhile investment, is that they don’t just fill the need created by remote working. They’ve actually made product team’s lives easier even when they go back to the office.


Design:

When choosing your design products, it’s key to think about all the different reasons for having one in the first place. Your product teams and designers will want to be able to build prototypes, and your marketers will want to make blog graphics and social media posts. Before choosing a design tool, make a list of your design needs and try to find one that ticks all the boxes, or at least as many as possible.


Certain teams will need a more sophisticated design product, and others will require something user-friendly, so it’s likely that you’ll need to provide teams with a couple of options.


User experience/research:


Users are the lifeblood of your product, so it’s worth investing in platforms and processes to help you understand them better. You need to know who they are, what they like, what problems they have, and countless other things about them.


Once you’ve launched your product you also need tools (like heatmaps for example) that can tell you how they behave within your product. They may be using your product in a way that you didn’t expect.


User research tools can answer a lot of questions about your product and your customers.