Process Definition: The Key to a Successful System Integration

system integration

There are so many new tools on the market, each making the claim that this piece of technology will solve your biggest business problems while helping you make a ton of money. And it’s true that these tools can have a major impact on your organization – if they are properly implemented. As an application developer, I’m responsible for making disparate business systems work together. A successful implementation is dependent on a well-defined process. 

Challenges arise when an organization attempts to shoehorn their existing process into a new system. Something led your company to look for a new system – whether it was inefficiency, duplicate effort or total process breakdowns – but just buying the new tool isn’t enough. If there is something broken in your process (or even if it could just use a slight adjustment), you must recognize the value that the system offers and use its implementation as an opportunity to make improvements in your business processes.

Some companies would rather stick with what they know than get out of their comfort zone and embrace change, particularly when they perceive a risk in trying out something that’s new and (to them) untested. It is important to remember that these tools are built on industry standards and best practices, and have been validated by adoption. For example, Salesforce is the largest Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution in the world and has been adopted by thousands of companies who have validated the process behind it by using it every day. That level of trust and expertise is valuable.

Process review should happen in the early stages of your implementation project. If it happens at the end of a project – or doesn’t happen at all – it can be detrimental to the entire effort. When you’ve engaged an agency to help you with your systems integration, take advantage of their expertise rather than giving them marching orders. Take the time to explain your current processes and help the team uncover the potential in the new system. 

Strategic discussions involve outlining your current process, including:

  • Key business goals
  • Major steps and milestones in each process
  • Manual or redundant work
  • Key terminology
  • Roles and responsibilities of those involved in the process

An outside perspective helps you go beyond the initial pain points you may have already identified. When you walk through what the current process looks like, additional opportunities for improvement rise to the surface. For example, the development team can help you adjust your sales process to ensure that you’re taking full advantage of your CRM features. By following the guidelines of the tool and making customizations only to enhance the process, you will get the best return on your technology investment. 

A change in process often means a change in roles and responsibilities for your team. This level of change often makes companies uncomfortable and makes user adoption a challenge when people see the new tool as a threat to their job security. In my next blog post, we’ll discuss ways to improve user adoption of your integrated system.

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