Cheat Sheet: How to Get Executive Buy-In for Microservices

Microservices architecture has been steadily gaining traction over the past several years. In 2015, Gartner reported that 68% of organizations were using or investigating microservices.

Without commercial, ready-to-use options, early adopters built their own frameworks and microservices for digital commerce. But today, turnkey platforms and a-la-carte microservices are available from third-party vendors, helping accelerate time-to-market and reducing internal resource costs and learning curve associated with setting up an API-friendly environment.

However, procuring any new digital commerce technology requires input and buy-in from multiple decision makers including IT, Finance, Marketing / Strategy and in some cases, the CEO. Lack of executive support is one of the top reasons that commerce technology procurement and digital transformation efforts stall or halt completely.

To gain this critical buy-in, it’s important that you understand the 3 Es: Education, Empathy and Examples when building your case for microservices. 

Education

The ability to effectively communicate the value of microservices architecture to both Business and IT stakeholders is 80% of the battle. Be sure to document the pains that Business experiences with your legacy system. If possible, quantify these pains in terms of lowered conversion rate and revenue, efficiency, customer experience and retention. Quantify and qualify the inefficiencies in IT that impact Revenue and Strategy (including delayed time to market and competitive positioning).

If you’re pitching to IT, don’t forget the “fun factor” that microservices brings. Not only do microservices work hand-in-hand with efficient processes such as DevOps and Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery, but microservices also support the freedom to experiment and play outside the box that is the legacy platforms.

The following is a “cheat sheet” to get you started:

  1. Know what your existing system costs you today
    1. Licenses, hosting
    2. Maintenance / professional services
    3. Hours spent on extending platform/innovation
    4. Opportunity cost of delayed time to market for new projects
    5. Opportunity cost of not using commodity resources/developers
  2. Quantify cost savings in internal efficiencies
    1. Moving to DevOps and CI/CD
    2. Data, models, 1, 3 and 5 year forecasts
  3. Revenue growth projection
    1. Quantify cost of lost sales due to not having feature/channel served (e.g. mobile traffic, in-store digital, case studies from similar companies)
    2. Customer acquisition
    3. Customer retention activities
  4. Strategic/Competitive/Marketing
    1. How technology will support your value proposition, align to top-level goals
    2. Seamless customer journey – connect the dots between systems
    3. 360-degree view of customers
    4. Get new projects implemented faster, with less risk and easier to remove

For resources to support your Educational case, check out Skava’s archive of webinars and white papers on how microservices support digital commerce transformation.

Empathy

Build trust through empathy. Understand what matters to your stakeholders to perform their functions and hit their targets, and how the increased agility and flexibility of microservices directly helps them. Many business leaders put the brakes on new projects because of personal FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt. Make sure you’re aware and prepared. If your case does not directly address FUD, you can get stuck in the mud.

Examples

Relying on forecasts, estimates, analyst reports and industry case studies can’t compare to a real case from your own business. One significant advantage of microservices is they don’t require a full rip-and-replace of your existing monolith to experiment and prove value. Because microservices are independent applications with well-defined APIs, they can run alongside existing systems.

Consider a skunkworks project that tackles one of the documented pains of the legacy system. Choose a use case that is low risk, low effort but still demonstrates value. Avoid the time, investment and learning curve of building your own microservices framework and applications by choosing a ready-to-use microservice from a vendor such as Skava Commerce.

To learn more, listen to the podcast episode Getting executive buy-in with education, empathy, and examples