A strategy for solving systems integration problems
For many businesses, systems that don’t work together are the source of major headaches.
Systems that don’t talk to each other create layers of manual work, errors and issues, and make reporting difficult or impossible.
Over time individuals create workarounds and ways to bypass these problems. So their own ways of working become complicated, inefficient and fragmented. Not only does this affect the bottom line, but frequently it affects the morale and ambition of the whole company.
Solving these kinds of problems is really hard because there are really complicated! Getting to the root of the issues can be exhausting; trying to solve them feels like wading through treacle.
Busy directors just don’t have time for this.
So where do you start?
First decide on your strategy by getting the Board together and answering these 3 questions:
1. Ambition – how much do you intend to grow and change the business in the coming years; do you need a platform for growth and acquisition, or can you continue to cope?
2. Resources – are you prepared to invest significant resources in projects, or would you rather minimise change and try to tackle problems piecemeal?
3. Impact – how much is this really affecting (or in danger of affecting) the business commercials? Is there a major opportunity to reinvent your business, or just an opportunity to remove some irritations?
The approach may be a dedicated project to address a range of specific issues and to solve them each individually. Or it may be that major replacement projects are needed.
Technology may be the easy bit
But, whatever the approach, the solution will probably require a combination of technical changes, changes to processes, organization, roles and incentives. There may be difficult conversations and the need to call out people who are personally contributing to these issues.
This discussion can be stormy because systems that don’t integrate often reflect departments or Directors who don’t integrate!
Building a unified consensus around the Board table is the crucial first step. There needs to be a senior member of the team who has time, focus and authority to get to the bottom of these issues and to lead the changes.
We have also created a more detailed CEO’s Briefing on how to address these kinds of integration challenges which you can download below.
Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT directors, CIOs and CTOs. We work exclusively with SME and mid-market organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.