No one gets into business with plans to stay the same year after year. Those goals you’ve been working toward—higher profits, more or better clients, more time for things that matter, stronger reputation—none of it can happen if you can’t increase your productivity, reduce waste, fine-tune processes and metrics, and adapt to evolving market demands.
Whether you’re leading a humble startup, have reached profitability with a solid cadre of loyal customers, or managed to mushroom into a high-powered enterprise, sustainable growth will hinge on your ability to scale: that’s what systems integration can do for you.
What Is Systems Integration?
Any business, no matter its size, relies on systems to keep it running. These can include accounting systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, supply chain management systems, human resource systems, and so on. “Each has its own methods and limits for data collection, storage, and reporting, and its own method for setup and programming,” explained Mike Walters and Paul Oswald, writing for Consulting and Specifying Engineer magazine.
For small businesses, systems can be quite simple, yet still effective. (Who hasn’t tracked crucial information in an Excel spreadsheet at some point?) As a business grows, so do system complexities. Before long, systems become difficult to navigate, and data-sharing between them becomes more prone to error, or even impossible in many cases.
Systems integration is the process of creating a framework that links all systems in your organization so data and intelligence can be easily shared. In addition to easier access and sharing of information, that integration also reduces errors, delays, and manual tasks, freeing up staff time away from spreadsheets and cumbersome dashboards so they focus on other priorities. Put simply, systems integration makes separate systems work together efficiently.
Your car is a great example of systems integration. Its engine, cooling, electronics, brakes, and transmission all work together so you can travel safely, comfortably, and much faster than you could otherwise.
How It Works In the Real World
Let’s extend that car analogy and consider a company that manufactures automobile parts. Systems in that company might include:
- Automated manufacturing systems to control the fabrication process and maintain quality levels.
- Supply chain management system to ensure parts and materials are on hand when and where needed.
- An order fulfillment system to track who ordered which parts, and the status of those orders.
- A customer relationship management system for lead capture, nurture, and other marketing activities.
- An accounting system to track company financials, accounts payable and receivable.
- Human resource systems to track time sheets, payroll, and benefits all in one place.
Although each of these systems serve distinct purposes, they must be deeply interconnected for the business to be productive. Sales information, for instance, can be fed to supply chain, manufacturing, and shipping automation, so orders are fulfilled quickly, accurately, and at the lowest cost to the business. Systems integration ensures this happens seamlessly, without requiring someone to extract data from one system and input it into another.
How Systems Integration Benefits Your Business
It should be clear by now that when systems are integrated, your business runs more efficiently. (And we well know efficiency = money). Let’s take a closer look at how this translates into benefits to your staff, customers, and bottom line:
- Fewer steps and less time to complete tasks/processes
- Fewer errors due to manual data transfer and human interference
- Reduced costs and waste in terms of time, errors, delays, and system admin expenses
- No need to duplicate efforts and information
- Less effort required for system maintenance and development
- Improved communication between departments, with customers, and prospects
- Greater ability to serve and delight customers with information and offers most relevant to their history and preferences
- Improved customer experience and retention
- Consolidated reporting of activities and how they affect the business
- More time for staff to focus on serving and attracting customers—not being tied to spreadsheets
Put it all together, and you have a business that’s more likely to experience a big leap forward, and equipped to handle aggressive growth and opportunities. It’s why businesses of all sizes come to AxiaTP: to achieve the outcomes outlined above through custom software that ensures existing systems play well with one another.
Got questions? We’re happy to share best practices and lessons learned from helping businesses similar to yours, and where you are today. Contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation, and we’ll get you closer to your goals.