Systems integration in an IT or engineering sense, involves the integration of multiple sub-systems within an organisation into one overarching system. Essentially the integration should ensure that systems used across the business are all pulling in the same direction and problems such as duplicate data entry are minimised or eradicated. Large businesses will often allocate considerable resource, including dedicated project teams, to review their systems and possible integrations on a regular basis. This is critical to helping them making efficiency improvements as processes evolve and the company grows to ensure they stay competitive.
Unfortunately, the benefits of systems integration at an early stage are often overlooked by rapidly growing small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), where day to day operations and sales growth take priority. Eventually, as an SME expands, problems often occur where the need for projects and data to be shared across multiple functions or sites is required, but many different systems have been introduced at various stages of development. As the business continues to expand system problems are magnified which can result in stagnating growth due to unhappy staff, mistakes, delays and ultimately dissatisfaction of customers. Hence the benefits of system integration for SMEs are plentiful.
Benefits of Systems Integration for SMEs
Access to real time information – If systems across all parts of the business are working in sync, everyone in the organisation should be able to access important data in real time. For example, a salesperson should be able to let a customer know if the product they require is in stock, providing the order processing and warehouse team is using the same or interlinked system.
Streamline processes and improve efficiency – As SMEs grow into larger companies, they tend to add increasing numbers of off the shelf software packages into different departments. These will not share data with each other automatically which results in staff duplicating data entry at many different points. It can also mean that a business makes unnecessary hires to perform repetitive back office tasks. The result of both of these things is increased cost which can be avoided by effective systems integration.
Improved staff motivation – Cumbersome systems that require repetitive data entry and do not provide accurate information are a source of frustration for staff. Integrated systems that limit data entry points and allow data to flow seamlessly throughout the organisation enable staff to access accurate information when required. In turn this means staff are happier in their jobs and can focus more of their time on more interesting activities that add greater value to the business.
Competitive advantages and customer wow factor – By integrating systems faster than a competitor, businesses can gain competitive advantages through increased productivity and efficiency. Not only that, they are able to delight their customers with exceptional customer service enabled through accuracy of available information and limiting the chances of mistakes when fulfilling their orders.
Enhanced data security – Following the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data security has never been higher on the list of priorities for most businesses. Putting in place the necessary data security measures for one system, is often much easier to manage than trying to coordinate many disparate systems each with its own procedures.
Improved data analysis and planning capability – With all data available in real time and from a single source, management can easily extract the data needed to identify trends quickly. This makes the business more agile, able to react to changes in the marketplace and plan more effectively.
At LBT we encourage SME clients to invest in IT consultancy and periodic systems audits with an expert as the business grows. In the long run this avoids pitfalls and complex problems as a business expands. There are two main ways in which LBT can help:
Single Network Solutions
Bringing all of your work sites together on one simple, secure network infrastructure will help to improve communication and productivity across all business units. For SMEs this is usually done cost effectively using a series of Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections which create an encrypted connection over the public internet. Other methods of creating a secure network infrastructure include Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) but this is usually used by larger businesses due to the financial implications.
Cloud-based solutions are a particularly effective way of making sure that data flows seamlessly throughout your company and is accessible by all who need it, even if your team is based across multiple sites. In addition, cloud-based solutions help to enable modern practices such as home and mobile working, enabling SMEs to reduce their need for office space and motivate their employees through increased flexibility and work-life balance.
What Makes us the Number one Choice for Systems Integration?
Providing IT Support services in Hertfordshire since 1993, LBT has seen many changes in the IT industry over more than 25 years in business. We take a consultative approach to really understand the workings of our client’s business, whilst our team of experts has unrivalled knowledge regarding systems integration and how to get the most from the latest hardware and software solutions available. Our focus is putting together technically competent but jargon free systems integration proposals and delivering them for our clients to the highest possible standard. We even have our own inhouse software development team to assist with highly bespoke systems and integrations.
If you are a rapidly growing SME or a medium-sized business encountering problems with multiple systems, call us for a free initial consultation today on 01763 275 400 or click here to contact us online.