The importance of system integration: does your software play well with others?
When businesses grow, the importance of system integration grows with it. It’s common for more and more software programs to be added to operations — each doing its own handy thing and each offering its own unique service.
Unfortunately, system integration is often inadvertently overlooked. New programs don’t always play nicely together, resulting in data silos. And as you add more programs, it becomes harder to integrate them into your current workflows.
Without system integration, you lose efficiency, productivity and opportunity. All those technologies you implemented to save time can lead to more manual work as you try to connect uncooperative touchpoints. So, do you have systems in need of some integration TLC? We explore the importance of system integration.
What system integration is
As your business scales, you need new software programs to help you keep track of data, performance and customers. You’ll have several different programs and software tools that are a core part of your daily workload. System integration is the linking of these systems and software applications. This means they’re able to talk to each other and act as a coordinated whole.
System integration enables enterprise resource planning (ERP), which is the integrated management of core business processes. When your core business processes all play nicely together, it enables a more effective use of your data.
The problem is, the importance of system integration often only becomes apparent once it’s too late. You’re already drowning in a mess of uncooperative software programs, and your data is split across several systems when it needs to be synced.
The challenge of system integration
When you start out, you’ll likely have a software program that will help you with your accounts and bookkeeping, for example. Then, as you grow and find yourself dealing with more and more customers, you’ll add more processes. You’ll acquire more data, and add more systems. Now you need something to keep track of your inventory, your customer data, and your order management.
The list continues over time as your systems evolve alongside your business. The architecture of your software suite becomes a tangled web of inefficient processes and disparate applications. These disparate apps won’t share data or communicate with the other software you need to keep your business running.
Before long, your data sits in silos. You can’t find the information you want, nothing slots together, and some important functions don’t work as they should. Processes are long and arduous. Simple data extraction takes too long, and the little admin tasks weigh your team down, consuming time better spent on higher value tasks.
Business process automation can help you to get back on track. It can optimise, and handle, many of the processes restricted by a prior lack of system integration.
That’s because automation technology like ThinkAutomation can talk to different systems and APIs — a mailbox, a cloud folder, a database, a Twitter feed — and make data syncing workflows possible. You can bridge different platforms together and build workflows that span multiple data touchpoints.
So, rather than data locked in one place, you get more fluid operations connected by automated, integrated workflows.
The importance of system integration become clear through the benefits it offers. Without system integration, employee time and productivity is wasted on navigating small admin tasks. With it, however, comes an opportunity to boost productivity. Employees are less tied up in manual data syncing, and your workflows are both more inclusive and more efficient.
System integration also improves the visibility of your business performance. Before, extracting and understanding data was a convoluted task. But with system integration, information is much easier to access and process. So, you can make highly informed, accurate decisions in a shorter time frame.
In short, system integration means that you and your employees spend less time arguing with computer programs or searching for information. Instead, you can spend more time productively, helping customers and furthering your business reach, profits and growth.
An integrated future
Make system integration a priority, not an afterthought. To start helping your systems talk to each other, try ThinkAutomation with a 30-day free trial.