IT Integration Challenges
Systems and technologies that don’t talk to each other turn a simple business into a complicated business with everyone just struggling to keep up. The cost of living with these problems day in, day out can be huge. But it’s very hard to know what’s the real problem, what’s the real solution? And how do you get from where you are to where you want to be?
The impact of poor systems integration can be widespread
Integrating systems is a challenge as old as IT. The impact of poor integration is often felt around the business… for example, complex management reports that require lots of manual tinkering; or wasted effort when teams each maintain their own, separate (and maybe contradictory!) views of the world. Or digital and ecommerce initiatives that cannot progress because back-end systems are a barrier.
People are frustrated with each other and different people blame different things, but there is no clear solution.
Proper understanding of the causes
Our Principals bring years of experience of these problems and can look dispassionately at what’s really going on. Firstly, are there simple issues that need to be fixed (maybe they have needed fixing for years)? For example, a member of staff who never keys sales orders in accurately; bugs in the website; the timesheeting system is always locked up when everyone tries to use it on the last day of the month; the sales team and finance team need to use the same codes for territories. Oh, and the network keeps going down – that doesn’t help!
If the problems run deeper than we can look at a deeper change. Perhaps new software is needed, or new management information systems could create better, more flexible and accurate reports drawing data from different existing databases. Many businesses are full of staff with their own spreadsheets and piles of post-it notes because the company’s main systems don’t solve the whole problem, or don’t cope with new business channels and products.
Fixing the Real Problems
Many of our clients don’t have a healthy relationship with their systems vendors so it’s not easy to get changes made simply, quickly and at a reasonable cost. As a result the business gradually evolves without the systems keeping pace and the result is more spreadsheets, databases and post-it notes.
Our Principals have been managing suppliers like this and understand how they work and how they think. But, uniquely, our Principals also have the maturity and breadth of experience to look at the root causes of these kinds of problems. Our Principal will ask the most basic questions like: are the company’s systems really driven by the needs of customers, or just by historic ways of doing things?
Our Principals can fix integration challenges by understanding them and driving solutions or, if necessary, we can initiate major initiatives to “design-out” the issues by identifying what the business really needs.