Here at Tranztec we are constantly improving workplace productivity and profitability through our innovative system integrations. We feel system integration is crucial to remaining competitive on the market and well as company growth. Below is an article written by David Silva, a Sales & Marketing specialist within the IT industry supporting this thought.
Technology continues to advance at a pace that few can keep up with. Business owners can certainly have a hard time ensuring that their systems are always up-to-date to take advantage of the latest and greatest. However, despite being difficult to keep up with technological advancement, these advancements are vital to business success – particularly from a system-integration perspective.
Integration – conceptualA glaring example of system-integration neglect is the frequent disconnect between back-end Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software systems and eCommerce webstores. These two pieces of software are crucial for modern business operations and yet are often managed as separate silos with little integration or reciprocal communication. Needless to say this causes a number of problems.
Firstly, consider a business that is growing quickly as a result of their newly implemented eCommerce solution. Perhaps their webstore has attracted a flurry of business that they would have otherwise not have received – very often the case. Now suppose that the orders become overwhelming, resulting in rapid stock-outs. A proper ERP system with reorder levels would help prevent these circumstances. Sometimes, however, stock-outs are inevitable, but with a proper integration between ERP & eCommerce software customers will be aware of the situation. If customers are informed after the fact that an order will not be able to be fulfilled, they are much less pleased and may never return.
Next we can consider the hassle of maintaining the systems independently. Proper integration will allow for automatic product updates appearing in the webstore when changes are made in the inventory system. Without proper integration it can be a chore to manage the online services as well as traditional sales channels. Instead it should be a no-brainer to seek out an ERP solution that is integrated with an eCommerce platform at the database level to facilitate such functionality.
In a final scenario, we will consider an instance where there is a problem with either the webstore or the back-end system. Supporting a built-in or tightly integrated system is much easier than supporting separate systems that are haphazardly thrown together. If significant effort is required to make multiple systems communicate with each other, consider a different solution altogether. Supporting and upgrading systems that are not built to work with each other can be a painful process that can be very costly in the long-run – even if it saves some money upfront initially.
Discussing the issues in more broad terms brings up the importance of ensuring all systems across the organization are as integrated as possible. There is an abundance of varied software solutions available to businesses to improve productivity. In today’s age the difficult part is not finding a means of improving the effectiveness of your organization but rather deciding which means to employ and how to make sure there is consistency across the business.
Rather than employing various disparate systems to accomplish business tasks, decision makers should always seek out as few systems as possible that are integrated tightly. This usually starts with finding a robust ERP system to manage inventory, accounting, customer relationship management etc. followed by business-extension software such as eCommerce. When you are able to view every aspect of your business and control all systems from one place, you will have succeeded.
To an extent, there is a difference between system communication and integration. It is one thing to allow communication between 2 systems; it is another entirely to fully integrate the two. The main difference being the number of communication points between the systems, or rather the variety in the information that is based between them. A well-integrated system will allow for drilling down into data across functions. For example, sales & conversation history can easily be found via a customer relationship management (CRM) module as well as open orders and quotes. The value of this sort of functionality cannot be overstated.
My hope is that this article has made clear the benefits of achieving integrated systems and the difficulties produced in not doing so. A vast number of tools are available to increase organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Without proper implementation and integration, however, you may not realize their full potential.
The goal is always to eliminate as many manual processes within your organization as possible. At the end of the day it will be the most automated, least manually-driven, and most up-to-date business that wins the race.
– This article is also available at http://www.backbonemag.com/Backblog/erp-software-and-ecommerce-the-growing-importance-of-system-integration.aspx.