We sat down with Metova’s CTO Andrew Cowart to understand the ins and outs of tech assessment and why it’s important for companies to know where their technology stands.
What is a Technology Assessment?
A Technology Assessment is our process for reviewing a company’s entire technological architecture. We try to tailor it based on what the client is specifically looking to do – whether that be a company looking to acquire another company and doing a review of their technology to ensure it’s maintainable and another development company can easily pick it up and run, or whether it’s for a computer producing a hardware product that is intended to go in the home, and they’re worried about security.
What are some things a company might discover through a Tech Assessment?
Since our Technology Assessments are tailored based on what a company is trying to do, the exact results can depend. Some of our more common requests are from startups that are looking to scale, and they want to be sure that they have the right technology in place to support them as they grow, without everything starting to fall apart tech-wise as they reach success.
Other times, it can just help to have an outside perspective before making a large engineering push yourself – at larger companies, it can be fairly common to work with the same group of people and do things the same way using the same tools and technology for a very long time. Technology changes very quickly though, and what may have been best practice years ago may no longer be the case. So for those clients, we can come in and review their development processes and DevOps tooling to make sure that they’re providing their developers with the best industry standards at the time.
What makes doing this complex or difficult?
The biggest challenge is that these are so tailored to the individual customer. Large Company A can have a very different tech stack than Small-But-Growing Startup B, and they probably should. They may have their own engineering team, or they may outsource all of their work. So the challenge in each of these is really getting to know the team and their own unique problems – and then working with the company, large or small, to come up with an action plan for how to actually go about implementing any suggestions.
What is the difference between a Tech Assessment and a Code Assessment?
A Tech Assessment is more of an overall assessment of a company’s technical landscape, whereas a Code Assessment is purely focused on any custom software development that a company might have and goes a bit more in-depth. It really depends on a company’s needs, and it’s very common for a company to be interested in both an overall Tech Assessment and a deeper dive Code Assessment.
Are there instances when there is no need for a Tech Assessment?
There are definitely cases where it’s less important than others. Companies who are doing their own software development and commonly bring in new talent with industry experience and evaluate their technology stack as a team and address their technical debt – they’re setting themselves up for success.
More commonly, though, we find companies don’t bring in new experience, or their team members don’t feel empowered to suggest doing things a different way. Alternatively, when new talent is brought in, they may be immediately brought to focus on one specific area – so the fresh new eyes won’t get the same broader look that a Tech Assessment gives.
Are Tech Assessments mainly for mobile apps – if not, what other sorts of tech offerings can benefit from this?
Not at all. Although Metova started as a mobile application development company, we’ve expanded over the last 13 years to cover all aspects of development. Over time we’ve found the most technical issues occurring around the technologies running on servers – that’s usually where your largest security issues and scalability issues will be.
What are the common issues that might be found with a Tech Assessment?
The most common issues we find actually tend to be around security. Commonly, development teams don’t think about security issues during development – if they haven’t been trained to code with security in mind, their main focus with code is that it works and it can be written quickly. This is also why you commonly hear about massive password breaches, even at large companies. Best practices that can protect your users take time to implement, don’t have any immediate positive revenue impact but can end up saving your company.
Are there any “catastrophic or “return to go” issues that you have discovered?
There’s been a number of times, either in a research and strategy session or a tech assessment, where we do discover that the client’s goals can’t be met with their current proposed solution. These tend to be fixable without starting over entirely but may require larger changes – like a change in a proposed hardware solution, or a change in a service provider.
What are the risks of beginning a major company initiative such as a digital transformation without first doing a Tech Assessment?
If you have embarked down the path of software development or other technology implementation and are uncertain of what you have as a current baseline to begin in earnest to transform your organization, you may be building on a shaky foundation. What you have may require improvement or rework to ensure that you are able to safely build the future of your company on top of it. A tech assessment could be the peace of mind you need to confidently make the investments needed to move forward or it could save you from having to hit the reset button halfway through your journey and head back to the beginning. It’s better to have a clear view of where you are headed and what you are building on before making assumptions that what you have is stable enough to support your future.
To read more on Tech Assessment and preparing for Digital Transformation, read Metova presidents, Jonathan Sasse’s Forbes contributed article: The Road To Digital Transformation: Who Are You And What Do You Have?