One of the most common frustrations clients have is that they wish their IT systems would ‘talk’ to each other. This is what the IT Industry refers to as systems integration.
Modern businesses rarely function using just one piece of software — and, more typically, rely on a combination of products to satisfy a range of needs. These may include:
eCommerce sites, for selling to customers online
EPOS systems, for selling in retail stores
CRM systems, for managing customer relationships
Stock Management systems, for tracking inventory
Accounting systems, for monitoring profit and loss.
The problem with having separate systems for different purposes, is that they’re typically designed in isolation from one another, by different software vendors.
This means each system knows nothing of the others. And it can be problematic — with employees having to manually enter the same data across multiple systems.
You could argue that this approach seems disjointed. Why not have one huge system that does everything and knows what’s happening in every part of your business?
Some companies do — and with varying degrees of success. Such systems are typically very complex, or will be built from scratch for a business. But this is a very expensive and time-consuming approach that’s only affordable to companies with very deep pockets.
The alternative is to use multiple smaller and specialised products — so-called ‘best of breed’ products — and integrate them, so they ‘talk’ to each other and work together as one. The advantages to this approach are many, but here are just a few:
Having a single, all-encompassing system means the needs of the whole business need to be satisfied at once. It might take years to achieve such a feat.
Your accounting system might have a CRM module built in. But this is unlikely to be as feature-rich as a dedicated CRM system — from a company whose primary focus is CRM systems, rather than accounting systems.
Having one big system, from a single provider — with every area of your business depending on it — could be a risky approach.
Spreading the risk across multiple suppliers can be a safer option from a business continuity perspective. It also means you can change individual systems later on, without having to change all the others.
Most systems can be made to ‘talk’ to each other and we can help you achieve this. Give us a call today and tell us about the challenges you’re facing.