Integration Solutions to Streamline Your Business
What are integration solutions?
Integration solutions are different ways to get systems to talk to each other.
When your systems are not integrated (don’t talk to each other), you have to do things like enter a company into your prospects system and then re-type all the information about the same company into your accounting system.
What you don’t need to know about integration solutions
If you talk to software specialists about integration solutions, you’ll hear terms like “web services” and “WCF.” As a businessperson, don’t get sidetracked into a discussion of the various technical approaches to getting your applications to share information. What’s important is whether a lack of system integration is hurting your business.
What you really need to know about integration solutions
If you answer YES to either of the following questions, your business may be suffering from a lack of system integration.
Is the same information typed into more than one system?
Do you type customer information into both your sales and billing systems? Do you type product information into your accounting and manufacturing systems?
This is called "duplicate data entry," and it's a problem. Typing the same information into more than one system increases the time necessary to do work, so you may need to hire people in order to get all the necessary information entered in a timely manner. An additional problem with duplicate data entry is that it multiples the probability of errors. If you find inconsistencies between systems, perhaps someone may have made a typographical error entering information into one of them. If you lose trust the accuracy of information in your systems, the unreliable data may be a result of rekeying.
One final issue with manually entering information into more than one system: sometimes humans forget. If someone enters a name into one system and then gets interrupted, there’s a good chance they will forget to go into the second system and enter the same information there, too.
Does information get entered into one system and hours or days later appear in another one?
In the old days, “sneaker-net” was the only integration solution available. What was sneaker-net? Copying information from a system onto a disk, walking to a different PC (wearing “sneakers”), and copying the information from the disk to the new PC.
One step up from sneaker-net is the batch approach to integrating systems. Batch integration may use capability built into the systems, generally provided as export and import choices on a menu. For example, many prospect systems allow importing companies and contacts from another system. Accounting applications often allow exporting customer or supplier lists to spreadsheets.
If your company enters new customers into a sales system, and the next day all new and changed customer information appears in your accounting system, you probably have some form of batch integration. While better than re-keying, batch integration may not be the right solution if work is delayed or people have to rely on incorrect information while waiting for a data update.
If your applications don’t include an import or export menu function, and information entered into one system “automatically” appears in another, a programmer or database analyst may have found a way to transfer data.
What can system integration do?
Here are some examples of DragonPoint’s system integration projects. In each example, information entered into the first system is automatically sent to the receiving application.
- Contacts entered in Salesforce.com added to a custom system used to track customers.
- Vendors and purchase orders created in a custom purchasing application sent to Microsoft Dynamics AX, where business rules are applied as the information is added.
- Student test scores sent from a custom online testing application to a custom learning management system.
- Details of construction status entered on a tablet PC update the construction management system.
- Physical inventory collected on a PDA updates centralized product management application.
- Sales entered into a custom system sent to an off-the-shelf accounting package.
If you think your business is suffering because your systems don’t talk, call DragonPoint at 877-542-0657 for a FREE consultation to determine whether one of our integration solutions can help.