Five signs your integration strategy needs a review
As businesses develop and mature, extending their IT asset base is an inevitable part of the journey, especially as businesses extend their presence and activity online. Simply expanding the software laundry list overlooks opportunities to ensure how all these different systems and kinds of software are performing as a whole and can end up muddying processes and hurting overall business performance.
So here are a few suggestions of when your integration strategy might need attention.
Your business is different today than it was yesterday
Growth, expansion, relaunch, rebrand, refocus, reorganise. Change, big or modest, will usually mean your organisation will struggle to execute commercial goals and progress without an integration strategy to be able to ensure that IT systems and additional software acquisitions are performing and working together in a fully optimised way. An integration strategy will ensure everything is configured in such a way that it is flexible and robust enough to support growth and any changes to the roadmap.
Staff are being dragged down by data
Without an integration strategy you will run the risk of staff struggling to keep up, productivity wise, if they find themselves spending more time navigating different software systems, which is taking them away from core activities.
Having an integration strategy ensures that data flows and moves between various systems and applications, ensuring consistency of data because there is less manual inputting from one system to another, leading to more productive and happier staff.
Customers start going elsewhere
Customers can go elsewhere for goods and services for any number of reasons. Don’t let poor data integration be one of them. Whenever new software is added to a legacy IT system it can create complications in other areas. This could include impacting a carefully curated customer experience. If customers find that it takes too long to place and pay for an order, or nothing seems to be in stock, or they have to wait a long time to receive an order, an integration strategy is in order to identify where there are issues which can be addressed by smarter integration.
A systems integration strategy can deliver a smoother sales operation, from the customer experience to the backend staff and departments involved in fulfilling orders and processing transactions.
Information silos start to proliferate
Information silos are a side-effect of data re-entry reoccurring across an organisation, which can happen as a business expands and extends its IT asset base without an integration strategy in place. In the worst case it can lead to multiple versions of information, where no one really knows which is the most correct, latest or most “truthful” one.
It can even lead to different departments having less communication with each other because the information they are meant to be sharing and working from is of poor quality, or contains inaccuracies – from manual duplication – so it actually makes their job harder, not easier. Finally any organisation that wants to be able to turn data into actionable insight will be thwarted by an IT architecture that facilitates silos.
An integration strategy is critical to identify and alleviate where data silos may be forming.
Gaps in reporting
Reporting is a fact of life for any organisation, to provide a standardised framework of seeing how the business is performing across its different facets, whether in the form of periodic and annual financial reporting, sales reporting, order books, or after-sales service orders. The rise of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) reporting reflects a trend for businesses to become more, not less, transparent and accurate reporting is key to this.
If it is difficult to come by accurate information with which to produce reports, an IT integration strategy can make sure that data flows between all systems are unblocked so teams can deliver on their reporting objectives, and support data-driven decisions.
Chief Executive Officer