Applications are developed and customized to solve specific business needs. So for instance whereas streamlining operations is best done by an enterprise resource planning software, implementing a Salesforce automation tool helps you to organize sales team and achieve higher revenue figures. An e-commerce application and accounting solution also have strong business case for many companies. Once multiple applications become operational, exchange of information and application integration becomes a key issue for the organization. In absence of the above it becomes difficult to execute an end to end business transaction.
Whereas most of the small business owners are aware of why application integration is important, three most examples are discussed below. These are the most common business problems that we come across.
Efficiency Loss due to missing Application Integration – Business Examples
Let us look below how this missing data impacts business efficiency. The company that we are discussing is a small and medium enterprise. It has implemented SugarCRM for Salesforce Implementation, OpenBravo as its ERP and QuickBooks for managing accounts.
Sales Conversion to Order Processing – Missing Link 1
Richard, the Sales manager has just closed a new deal with a new client. He understands that this could be a potentially a long term customer if goods are before 30th September. From his previous experience he knows that this order would need to flow into OpenBravo and he would need to chase up with his counterpart in operations named Matt. Matt informs Richard that due to surge in recent orders, he would be able to deliver this order only by mid October. Richard now needs to get back to Matt and inform the customer about delay. More than anything, credibility of the company is at stake.
Sales Team link to Accounting – Missing Link 2
John, the CEO of the company is bothered about increase in account receivables. He asks the sales team to chase payments as they visit the customer premises. Sally, a salesperson in North is visiting a customer in afternoon and she relies on Grace, working in Finance and located in headquarters for knowing the details on account receivables. Grace logs into Quickbooks and passes the information. However Grace is also being chased up by several other sales team members to know outstanding amount of their respective customer. This leaves her no time for her regular office activities.
Master Data Management – Missing Link 3
John is pretty excited about launching a new product line which can help drive growth for the company in the coming period. However he is nervous too. He has seen in the past, how mismatch in master data can lead to increased manual effort and chaos in the company. Sales Team, order processing and accounting all had different versions of data. Creation of a new customer for instance takes intense coordination and follow-up to have it synced up in CRM, ERP and Accounting. He is aware that Richard is already annoyed with this. John knows that his anxiety is shared by the team as well. The question whether the IT application landscape is geared up towards company’s growth is more prominent than ever before.
The need to prioritize Application Integration
The above examples clearly bring out the fact that streamlined exchange of data between applications is needed. However what it also shows is that companies this helps in the following aspects as well
(a) it helps organization grow faster
(b) helps adapt to change in business environment
(c) it saves manual effort and coordination.
When you have a tight integration, you only need to focus on the business and have automation and integration take care of the information flow part of it. For instance in the third example where there is a launch of new line of product, if systems were integrated, teams would be more aligned and assured that they wouldn’t data issues for which they would additional follow-ups and manual interventions.
If we reflect on examples (a) and (b), we can imagine the number of unnecessary calls and manual coordination effort. Each of this is a huge cost to the company month on month. For example if the total payroll of the company is $100,000 and 5% of people time can be saved by application integration, this alone leads to savings of $60,000 a year. Apart from this of course, you get other benefits. The perspective to understand is that the sooner this initiative is undertaken, the higher the ROI.
Streamlined information flow across business functions is an important aspect for business owners. Having a solid strategy in place ensures that the company can operate efficiently and make it adaptable to changes in business environment. Gaining an edge by having applications integrated could simply be something like giving a firm delivery date to your customers when they place an order. This can go a long way in making an organization thrive and grow midst competition.