For optimum levels of efficiency and productivity, you need your business systems to communicate well with one another.
But not all companies choose to integrate all their IT systems. It can be due to a lack of internal skills, or not having sufficient time or budget to do it. But whatever the reason, it is always a short-sighted decision and the problems and pitfalls of non-integrated IT systems can be significant.
Here’s the issues you can have without system integration.
With non-integrated IT systems, your business will operate in silos. Your data is not linked but is held in discrete solutions. With siloed information, it is difficult to get an accurate picture of your business performance. Accessing data becomes inefficient, which impedes and delays your decision-making, impacting your competitiveness and profitability.
When you have data across several programs, you can end up with duplicated information. So, you may have customer data in both your ERP and your CRM. You may have sales data in a spreadsheet and on your ecommerce system. This is not an efficient way of handling data.
When updates are needed, they need to be made within perhaps two or three different applications. This not only takes more time than if the data were updated on a single database that that all systems worked from, but it also introduces the possibility of mistakes and omissions.
It’s also rare that the same person is responsible for updating all the systems and this will cause issues. If your finance department updates a customer’s contact information, for example, but the sales department doesn’t, from a data point of view, you effectively now have two different records.
Manually transcribing details across systems is not only tedious and labour-intensive, but it also introduces the possibility of human error.
If the error is a minor detail in an address, that is not such a huge problem. But when it comes to financial data, any mistakes can affect business-critical decisions.
With non-integrated systems, you will have to continually extract and transfer data between several fragmented systems. The more often you migrate data like this, the more likely chance of errors, with it getting lost or input wrongly.
Integrating your systems means they can automatically transfer data – without the need for human involvement, and therefore without the risk of error.
Integration speeds up your workflows by eliminating the need to take data from one application and apply it to another. For example, if you don’t integrate your ecommerce and ERP systems, you would need to extract sales data from the ecommerce platform and input it into your ERP. You would need to manually add the sales orders, create new customer information and adjust stock levels. The more sales you make, the longer this will take, but even for a small operation, it could amount to several hours a day.
Through integration, you speed up the information flows and do not need to wait for any manual calculations to be done. You don’t have to wait for data to be manually updated before checking stock levels, daily sales figures, and so on.
Out of Date Information
When porting info from one system to another, the resulting delays slow down your access to information and you will have times when your data is not up to date.
For example, if stock data hasn’t yet been updated, your staff can’t give customers accurate delivery timescales. And you can’t make informed business decisions about procurement needs based on old sales data.
Without access to live data, you don’t have an accurate picture of your business and it is harder to make timely decisions. You want real-time visibility so that your data is up to date and you can track vital KPIs and plan effectively.
Not all systems are compatible with each other. So even though you may have settled on a non-integrated approach, data may not be held in the same formats.
Your finance system may tally total income by customer, while your CRM might split the data by product type purchased. Certain fields may not exist in both platforms – or they may be formatted entirely differently. Reconciling the data from these two platforms will not be straightforward.
Another issue with non-integrated systems is that they cause inefficiency. Users may be tempted into adopting practices on a whim so that they can make systems work together – by exporting and importing data or by trying to build spreadsheet macros, for example. But this takes time and often requires inexperienced staff to work things out as they go along.
This can have issues with functionality too. With non-integrated systems, some critical functions may simply not work properly, impacting your organisational efficiency.
Integrate as Soon as Possible
As you grow, adding more applications and systems makes it ever harder to integrate them into how you operate. This brings difficulties with streamlining workflows and maintaining efficiency.
Your information flows more slowly, bringing the risk of error, data incompatibility, delays and out-of-date information.
With integration, these issues are eliminated or minimised, making for more effective business processes. By integrating your systems as soon as possible, you reduce costs and maximise efficiency, staff productivity and profit earlier.
It’s possible to retrospectively integrate systems that you have already deployed, though. You can appoint an IT consultant to undertake the integration, making sure that your systems are compatible and that they communicate effectively.
Prioritise system integration now to avoid future pitfalls. With NetSuite ERP at the core of your business, you will have a system that easily integrated and which ensures your company runs on a single database of information. For more details, contact us today.