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Understanding the Processes and Problems Associated with Large-Scale IT Integrations

There is no “one-size fits all” solution for any organization or business these days. Keeping an organization up and running is more than communication, after all – it’s about keeping everything in sync. That’s where systems integration comes into play.

Systems integration (SI) has seen tremendous growth over the last few years, and yet still has not quite been given its due. Sometimes seen as an afterthought or overlooked as a “detail” as part of a broader IT strategy, the fact of the matter is that SI is crucial to staying competitive while supporting the growth of your organization.

Ever-advancing hardware and software solutions offer greater functionality to an organization but often have trouble interfacing properly.

Systems Integration Explained

SI focuses on providing effective, intelligent integration of hardware and software solutions. This typically manifests as a form of enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, ensuring core business processes are in constant, effective communication with one another.

As an example, ERP software may include a variety of back-office functions such as inventory management and tracking. An organization with a new e-commerce solution might have trouble getting these systems to interact properly, causing headaches as customers try to buy out-of-stock products and requiring staff to race to update systems.

Effective systems integration provides the missing link between pre-existing ERP software and the organization’s e-commerce solution to ensure consistent communication, updating e-commerce systems as product inventories empty and refill. In turn, this provides a seamless experience for the end user, who won’t have to deal with the hassle of adding an item to their cart only to find it’s out of stock when they attempt to check out.

Why is Professional Systems Integration Important?

As an enterprise grows, it’s not particularly difficult to find software solutions to handle various IT needs. For instance, a healthcare organization may use one program to manage their hiring processes, another to track work hours for staff, and a third for managing HR duties and information.

Systems integration removes the barriers between these disparate programs and technologies to ensure smooth, streamlined operations.

As straightforward as this sounds, accounting for the integration process is vital during the deployment of any IT strategy. Integration is not a flawless process, though. It needs professional attention and oversight to ensure success, hence the need for professional IT services.

Advantages for Your Organization

It’s easy to overlook SI’s benefits. Increased functionality and communication between systems is taken for granted; it’s something that “just works,” after all.

But SI offers tremendous tangible benefits that can be measured.

  • Eliminates Manual Work: Data entry is a tedious, monotonous task. Sharing records across multiple systems helps eliminate such tasks. This allows staff to focus on more pressing concerns or processes that require more in-depth analysis and effort.
  • Saves Time and Money: Closely related to the minimizing manual work, by eliminating common, time-consuming tasks, your staff get more time to focus on the meat-and-potatoes work of their position. This offers more time for the tasks that require more effort, which is more valuable to your organization. By spending less time on common time-consumers, you’ll also invariably spend less capital.
  • Improves Worker Satisfaction: When your systems work together, and you’ve eliminated the need for tedious data entry and collation, your workers and staff will enjoy a boost in morale. They’ll be able to focus on the tasks they specialize in and put in the more high-value effort. In turn, you’ll likely see an improvement in departmental tasks and work.
  • Ensures Up-to-Date Information: Systems integration allows for instant access to all organization records and data, no matter the department. This eliminates the potential for confusion or working from out-of-date data.

Potential Roadblocks

Effective SI does not happen without its hurdles.

Integrating various systems, ensuring communication and effective data management is a huge undertaking for any organization. Due to the scope of SI work, we recommend allowing experienced IT consultants to handle the process; this helps ensure potential obstacles are accounted for ahead of integration, allowing for as seamless a process as possible.

Timelines

Integrating systems takes time – full stop. Implementing an integration takes planning and a careful assessment of resources to ensure objectives are met. It can take several months to simply deploy an integration environment, with full implementation often taking double that amount of time.

Complexity

Integration is so much more than connecting tools. After all, this is less about putting systems into contact with one another, but anticipating all potential interactions and scenarios, automating a wealth of processes to ensure nothing is lost. SI must account for how data travels between systems and various dependent processes.

Coordination

Who owns what data? Who can access it? For instance, while an accounting department needs access to all financial data from all departments, they don’t need access to other details, such as inventory and shipping details. Coordinating who can access what data adds further kinks and complexity to the SI process. Even coordinating integration requires a lot of foresight and planning to ensure no details are overlooked.

The best option for any organization or enterprise is to hire professional IT consultants to plan the full process, from start to finish. This helps ensure no data is lost, overlooked, or forgotten, and that the process is as smooth and stress-free as possible at all stages.

To Find out if you need SI services, contact the professionals at IDS Systems.