Many businesses and organisations develop their IT systems in a somewhat ad hoc way as their needs change over time. This can result in certain components not combining very well – such as databases unable to ‘talk’ to each other – or staff having to rekey the same information across multiple platforms.
These situations can result in lower productivity and possibly poorer customer service, so systems integration is often the cure.
What is Systems Integration?
It’s a process by which various parts of an IT set up are readjusted to combine and work seamlessly together: this may involve new software being developed or existing software being reconfigured. For example, it’s sometimes possible to adapt databases so they’re integrated and work well together instead of being standalone and unable to communicate.
In order to achieve effective systems integration, you will likely partner up with a software development professional such as Objective, a tech agency in Essex. Based on your aims and the limitations of your present system, they’ll develop and implement a systems integration solution having assessed your present arrangements.
Examples of System Integration
Systems integration can be effective in various aspects of a business’s functions:
- Databases – rather than several databases that require the same information keyed in with no communication, yours can combine with one another through systems integration either through new database software or adapting existing ones.
- Stock control – connecting POS and related software with your stock control system means accurate stock records can be maintained: as soon as a customer makes a purchase, the POS system removes the time from stock – and a flagging system can be set up to remind you to reorder once levels reach a certain minimum.
- Data analytics – effective analysis of your data can only be undertaken if the data is collected and organised properly: are you missing out on a data gathering opportunity? If so, systems integration to maximise data use is the answer.
- Project management – effective systems integration can help projects run smoothly by allocating resources where needed and when available, such as managing the time allocation of certain skilled people.
Methods of System Integration
Often new software may be developed to replace older, less efficient packages but often adaptations are adequate – as in the example of ‘databases’ above. Sometimes it’s a matter of proper ‘linking’ of different programmes to provide an efficient whole view.
For instance, linking stock control with POS and accounting packages means transactions can be successfully recorded, accounted for financially, and stock levels kept up to date including re-ordering.
Another good example is quotations: efficient software that makes it easy to generate a quote, record it and keep a record means it can be referred to and pulled off as and when needed rather than inefficient scrabbling about trying to find it when the customer returns to take matters further.
Aims of System Integration
The overriding aim for systems integration is to boost productivity and efficiency: staff spending time on duplicating tasks or having to re-enter the same information multiple times reduces productivity, as does inefficient tracking and recording of transactions maybe leading to ‘out of stock’ situations.
It’s also important to know as much about customers as possible, so effective transaction recording and reporting means buying trends and other useful data can be gathered – this is possibly compromised if systems don’t play well together.
The Advantages of System Integration
You’ll benefit from:
- Improved productivity – your software and systems work together and are connected as far as possible to reduce time wasted and improve work practices.
- Customer service – likely to improve and be more efficient so encouraging repeat custom, enhancing your reputation and reducing the chances of ‘computer errors’
- Improved efficiency – cutting down on wasted time and making faster transactions with more data included (purchase type, the amount spent and so on)
- Agility and scalability – your business can more easily and quickly respond, adapt and grow with systems and software that works efficiently as one.
A professionally implemented systems integration solution from an experienced IT expert can be a route to increased productivity and increased revenue.