June 03, 2020
With so much discussion about the benefits of MACH technologies (Microservices, API first, Cloud-native and Headless), it might be easy to assume that everyone is following the same route to modern architectures. Whilst many of our clients are indeed seeing the transformative power of this new commerce trend, many others are just starting out on the journey.
Let me provide you with some advice on how to make the transition and how to make sure that you get the most value out of your tech decisions in the coming years.
1. Define Your Commerce Goals
If you make the decision to commit to a headless architecture, you need to set realistic goals. There are several approaches to follow based on your company’s starting point, so you need to be clear on what lies behind your desire to transform. That way, you can build a solution that clearly meets those needs. Generally, there are three common business drivers:
- The need for speed
- The need for higher quality outcomes
- The need for better processes
It could be that you’ve already identified a key pain point, or that you know something in your current solution isn’t delivering what it should be. Perhaps you are looking for full-scale business change from an organisational point of view and you want to start fighting back against the new market disruptors.
2. Make the Decision to Move to Headless Technology
Whether you have a stack of legacy architecture and you are looking for increased speed and flexibility, or you are a digitally-native company looking to boost your capabilities or improve the quality of your processes, a move to microservices/headless technology might be the silver bullet you’ve been looking for, or it might be the wrong decision entirely. It’s important to define a target architecture that sits in harmony with your organisation. Remember that your architecture and ambitions should always go hand-in-hand and reflect each other in order to maximise the impact of your investment. Take the time to reflect on your goals and what you’re trying to achieve—don’t just follow the crowd.
You need to make sure you have all of the facts upfront when it comes to making changes on this scale. MACH is a term that relates to de facto technical architectural principles that have been packaged together because they all make up a modern architectural solution. It will not be right for all businesses, but if it does fit your company’s ambitions, these new architectures have been shown to bring lots of benefits. Use our guide to help you decide whether this is the right move for your business.
3. Get Commitment
If you decide to go ahead with a move to MACH, you’ll need to seek engagement and commitment from across the organisation. With lots of upfront technical work, it can be easy to overlook the scale of organisational change that can come with changing your technical architecture. In my experience, a change like this requires the commitment of a tech-savvy business-orientated person with a mandate to make decisions at a senior level. Perhaps this could be the CIO/CDO, but it could also be a senior digital manager.
This person will need to advise their teams on the need for improved speed, quality and processes, each of which can be achieved thanks to the MACH technologies, (note: it may also be helpful for them to advise on the reality of not making these interventions). Additionally, having a development team that can successfully communicate the business benefits of modern architectural principles like MACH to the senior management is also a sure-fire way to increase the chances of successful commitment.
4. Analyse the Existing Commerce Architecture
How much can you do with what you already have? Could you break the existing architecture down into smaller parts, and if so, can those smaller elements mirror the organisational domains? There are lots of things that can affect the scope of a technical implementation—e.g. when you look at the original solution’s architecture, you’ll need to see how tightly connected or de-coupled it is.
The more integration points there are, the more complex the work is going to be, and usually the older the solution, the longer it takes to untangle the dependencies. Making sure you’re starting with a crystal-clear understanding of what you’re working with is the key to making sure you’re making the right decisions and improvements from the start.
5. Take Small Steps and Prototype
Taking small iterative steps and building quick prototypes will ensure that you can capture insights as early as possible and make better decisions going forward.
Build a team that includes people from across all competencies. As the people who will ultimately be using the solution, it’s important that they have direct influence on the requirements set out at the start. Let them test early on and become ‘super-users’ right from the beginning. This will help you to learn, to adapt your goals and to make better decisions that will result in greater commitment to the next iteration.
We regularly work with clients who are just starting out on this journey. Maybe we can help you too in your transformation from monolith, to MACH? These five steps will help you to make the first move, but for more guidance on the best directions to take:
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