Data entry is a tedious task and what is even more unproductive, frustrating, and boring is having to do double data entry just because you need the same information entered across multiple platforms. This is why integrating all of your business’ systems can produce provide some interesting benefits to your company; such as time-savings, reducing data discrepancies, and can eliminate the tedium of data entry for employees. Using a web based application, or off-the-self software, is one way of many help to integrate and streamline how you do business. Now, while it’s difficult to get seamless integration if you’ve already got all your systems in place, there are things you can still do to help the process become more efficient:
Steps to take when looking to better integrate software packages:
1) The first and often overlooked option is to simply ask your vendor or supplier if they provide any kind of integration with the other packages you’re using. You may be pleasantly surprised.
2) If you discover that your software does adequately integrate out of the box, look to see if there are bulk import or export option you can use. Many software packages allow you to import or export data to and from a spreadsheet. If you’re doing things like syncing customer lists, product databases and so on, this can save you a lot of time. Decide which application will be the “master”, and periodically export the data into the new one. Instead of updating things one-by-one; these steps will enable you to perform a mass update of all changes.
3) If manual syncing isn’t feasible, you may be able to introduce a piece of middleware. This may be available for purchase from a third party vendor, or you might find a custom developed software to be more to your liking. Middleware is a software that acts like a translator between two other pieces of software, and can automatically exchange data between them to ensure everything syncs up. In other words, what this computer software does is that it allows multiple processes running on one or more machines to interact with each other.
4) If the software or service really is locked down and none of the above options are feasible, take a serious look at your need for that particular package. There may be alternative applications out there which do integrate better. It might be worth shopping around and talking to experts in web based applications too see what solutions might be available to you. While switching isn’t always convenient, the costs of changing applications can often easily be recouped by the resulting productivity gains. When evaluating this, keep in mind that some applications are easier to switch than others. If, for instance, you have a CRM application and also use a mass email marketing service, it will be much simpler to find a new email marketing service that integrates with your CRM software, than to try and change to a new CRM application which works with your current email marketing provider.
Have you taken similar/different steps at your business to integrate your systems? Then we want to hear about them.