A concise introduction to integration problems – Part I: How to spot them
A Concise Introduction to Integration Problems
Part I: How to Spot Them
Integration problems can cause your business quite a bit of damage. When systems don’t talk to each other, it inhibits growth and undermines morale. It means more mistakes and manual work. It makes reporting difficult — or impossible! To make matters even worse, the problems can be difficult to understand in detail, and even more difficult to untangle.
Of course, every company has its challenges. So how do you know if integration is behind them? The first step is considering the specific issues facing your company. If you’re seeing one or more of the issues below, take a hard look at how your systems are working together — or not.
The Six Most Common (and Frustrating!) Results of Integration Problems
- Morale is suffering. Inefficient processes don’t just hurt the bottom line. They cause errors and delays, leading to frustration and arguments. And they make it harder to provide one of the most satisfying aspects of any business — good service to customers.
- Reporting is inaccurate and time-consuming. Managing a successful business requires accurate and timely data. But when there are integration issues, reporting is overcomplicated, requiring major manual effort. You may also lack simple dashboards for managers around the business, which makes it harder to make the right decisions and delegate authority.
- Service is suffering. It’s not easy to provide good service when you lack up-to-date information on stock, delivery, or products. Your people should put the customer first, but their energy is drained by system problems.
- It’s harder for marketing and sales. Due to lack of data, great ideas never get off the ground. For example, the sales director has a clever idea for a new campaign, but it’s almost impossible to crunch the numbers. Or new plans for intelligent cross-selling or upselling are impractical, because nobody can effectively analyse purchasing habits.
- You can’t strategize. Your online strategy is impossible if back-end systems can’t provide a simple platform. Without seamless back-office processes, you can’t easily analyse product, stock, or sales data; you lack effective product searches and other simple “must-haves.”
- People are choke-points. Individuals have their own vital lists and workarounds, so they become individually critical to the operation. When these key people are on vacation or sick, then the whole business is affected — and if they leave it’s a major problem!
Why Is It So Hard to Solve Integration Problems?
It can be hard to figure out solutions because busy directors just don’t have time to get to the bottom of it all. Put simply, there may be no one in your business with the skills, time, resources, and authority to solve these problems.
Another reason may lay in an accumulation of small problems, each intricate and complicated in their own way. For instance, when faced with integration issues many well-intentioned people create workarounds — their own special spreadsheets, databases, trackers, or the like. Each one solves an individual problem but adds further layers of complexity and time-consuming tasks.
Over time, more people are employed to deal with these tasks and, of course, they see it as their job. No one thinks of smart ways to eliminate their own job!
The good news is that while solving integration problems can be difficult, it’s definitely possible. If you’ve spotted integration issues in your company, learn what you can by reading the next instalment, A Concise Introduction to Integration Problems Part II: How to Start Solving Them.