Maximising business efficiency to achieve higher levels of productivity is the goal of most businesses, and is a key aspect in the pursuit of reduced costs and higher profits. One important way in which this can be accomplished is in integrating systems through software development, so that they can work in harmony with one another to improve work processes and reduce time spent on certain tasks.
What is systems integration?
In a nutshell, systems integration is the interconnecting of as much of a business or organisation’s IT in terms of software, technology and applications so they work as a whole – ideally in one single system but, if this isn’t entirely possible, at least large parts working together. For instance, a POS (Point of Sale) system integrates customer data gathering, stock control and accounting in one fell swoop in a sales transaction. When a customer buys something the financial details of the sale are recorded, data is gathered about the customer, and the item they have bought is removed from stock and – possibly – further inventory is automatically ordered if a pre-determined minimum stock level has been reached. A properly set up POS system will do all this automatically instead of different tasks being carried out by more than one person that makes a transaction highly labour intensive and open to errors (differing information wrongly keyed in for example).
Software packages working together
In this POS example, marketing, accounting and stock control software and functionality has been integrated to achieve the ‘maximum efficiency and productivity’ goal. Many businesses – even smaller scale operations – use a lot of software. In the POS example above, there’s at least three or four different software packages at work and, without integration, there would be possibly four different ‘data entry’ points.
What else can be integrated?
This will depend on the business type and their activities: talking to an experienced software development specialist would be an ideal first step to discover what levels of systems integration are possible and how to achieve this. It may be that new, bespoke software can be written to help integrate processes and existing packages can possibly be adapted. For example, some standalone databases can be customised so they ‘talk’ to each other so reducing data entry time and improving analytics. The following are typical applications that can be integrated either to one central system or a part consolidation: • Accounting • Calendars • Customer data records • Emails • Project management • Ordering and re-ordering • Stock control • Quoting • Analytics
Working with a software development partner
Your relationship with an experienced software developer starts with an exploration of your business objectives and how you’d like to streamline your operation. Do you find yourself duplicating effort? Are tasks too labour intensive? Are you often running too low on certain stock items or not capturing customer data as efficiently as you’d like? Integrating some or all of your systems could be the key to solving your business challenges.