July 19, 2021 | 10 Min

Crawl Before You Walk When Moving to MACH

Amy Thomason
AuthorAmy Thomason
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So, you want to move to MACH (microservices, API-first, cloud native, headless), make a digital transformation within your business? Cool, it’s likely a great step forward in being able to deliver real value to your customers and in staying competitive in the market.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s a lot of planning that needs to happen first.

Especially as everyone’s journey will be their own, to help you on your way, we thought we’d look at an approach to help you actually get there. And it’s all about breaking down the complexities into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Crawl. Then walk. Then run.

Going MACH and making a full commitment to changing your commerce technology stack can seem very daunting, especially given a MACH approach is a new concept for some. Of course, there are multiple ways you can make the transition, and what you will do will largely be decided by your business needs. However, one of the most typical approaches in order to mitigate any risk and as to not change everything in the business in one fell swoop is the crawl, walk, run method.

Let’s run through it.

Stage 1: Crawling

In your initial stages, you don’t want to go too hard or too fast with your migration. So the best approach will likely see you run on top of your legacy monolith when you’re starting out, so as you don’t break your existing transactional operations. It could be too risky and too costly otherwise.

At the crawl stage, start by separating your frontend from your backend for non-transactional elements, the capabilities in your shopping experience that don’t directly affect revenue. This could be content-driven pages for example. That way you’re still able to operate as you are but are also taking small steps on your MACH journey.

Just as important in this stage is planning and learning. As you go you’ll be getting more and more experience with some of the core components and concepts, and some things might not go to plan. But there’s ample time get the insights you need, to work out any kinks, and adjust your implementation as necessary.

Stage 2: Walking

Once you started to move past your crawl phase and implemented the “easier” elements of your experience, you’ll find yourself at the walk stage. The walk stage is where you will start to move some of the elements more closely tied to your checkout, such as your commerce platform. Your transactional elements are of course a little riskier, but now you’ve got more experience and more learnings from before to tackle them with more certainty.

Stage 3: Running

When you’re at the running stage, well done because you’ve cracked the nut and the hardest parts are now behind you. Here you will have successfully migrated to modern, MACH-based framework, and you’ll have implemented tools for your business users that allow more alignment with technical teams and that empower them to accelerate change also.

When you’re running you have freedom you’ve always wanted. Now, you can experiment much more freely, you can iterate as you go, and quickly, you can add new channels, new devices, experiences, whatever much quicker too, and you can optimize your systems to both scale and grow your business and deliver the customer experiences you wanted from the get-go.

Tips for making the MACH move.

With all that said and done, there are plenty of considerations along the way. Here’s just a few tips we can give you to help out.

  1. Prioritize experience over features. When working out where to start and your roadmap, don’t think about features but what will add value both internally for your teams and for your customers.

  2. Get all your business on board. Getting the C-suite and major stakeholders to give your move to MACH the green light is one thing, but actually making sure the rest of your business is aligned with your goals will prove vital. Stakeholder alignment around a shared vision is critical. The people on the ground are the ones using the current platforms, and at the moment they are probably all siloed in their own teams, approaches and workflows. Business buy-in, collaboration and overall, the changing of your business’ mindset towards how you’re delivering your experiences is crucial.

    Remember, your technology/architecture is only half the answer. How you structure your teams, how they collaborate, and how you make use of the products and tools are all key things you’ll need to figure out in order to make the move successful.

  3. Make the most of your vendors’ knowledge. Having more systems in play doesn’t mean there will be too many cooks in the kitchen nor mean it will be too hard to keep on top of everything. In fact, a lot of MACH vendors and system integrators are already working together closely and harmoniously, and with successful implementations under their belts they are primed to help orchestrate everything the best way possible relative to your business.

We’re in this together.

Making the move to MACH doesn’t have to be as daunting as it can first appear. We’re here to help. If you would like to discuss any part of a migration, then please get in touch with our team of experts.