Data integration is fast becoming a business necessity. This is especially the case for growing enterprises that find themselves adding new elements to their company processes.
For a business to operate smoothly as it adds complexity, enterprise resource planning (ERP) can mean the difference between getting ahead and falling behind. The benefits of streamlining data tracking and sharing include vastly improved efficiency and a tremendous deal of financial savings.
How to Become a Data Driven Company (and Why)
Poor data integration can lead to increased costs of doing business and a greater likelihood of errors that can compromise business relationships.
Employees will often spend more time retrieving data from multiple sources if systems are not integrated. This can lead to wasted employee productivity, more errors, and more unhappy customers.
Without efficient data integration, employees will often lack a real-time view of data, which can lead to mistakes in sales, inventory, and pricing. This can jeopardize client relationships and do harm to a business’s reputation.
With more competition out there, clients may seek new data-driven partners who can offer greater reliability. Here’s how to start integrating data into your business process management.
Identify Key Reasons for Data Integration
When beginning the process of ERP integration, the first step should be to clearly spell out the rationale for making the move. The reason may involve silos in current operations that need to be linked.
A company may have a new platform ready for integration that needs access to all existing data in order to be effective. Clearly spelling out the need for data integration will help identify the right solutions and will guide the implementation process.
Determine ERP Integration Priorities
Once all aspects of the rationale are spelled out, prioritizing them will help to further narrow down the right implementation tool. This will help guide vendors as you begin implementation. If the vendor knows precisely how the data needs to be integrated and what processes will benefit, then the platform can be more closely tailored to fit those needs.
Work Closely with Your Software Vendor
Communication with your software vendor should not stop once integration tools have been identified.
Working with them each step of the way will help ensure that all priorities are covered and that key employees understand the platform fully.
Choose the Medium for Your Interface with the Future in Mind
What will you use to track your data? Spreadsheets, databases, XML, or other media have their benefits and limitations.
A business should think about what medium will suit its current needs and how the platform might be used in the future. It is important to select a medium that will be able to grow with your company’s needs.
Protect Your Company Data
Security is always a priority when it comes to data. Working closely with the software vendor will help ensure that data is protected from invasion and from loss. Data protection should be discussed with the vendor, and internal protocols should be drawn up to ensure data protection.
Monitor the Process
Once the data integration process gets off the ground, it is important to constantly monitor the process. Data security should be a part of monitoring. The data integration platform should be periodically evaluated against the initial rationale for implementing it to determine whether and how it is meeting the company’s needs.
Areas for evaluation can include process efficiency. Compare sales data from before and after data integration to measure its impact. Inventory control and processing times should be compared to measure how data integration has impacted the business’s core processes.
Another benefit of data integration is greater visibility of internal processes for employees. They can function with clearer access to important information like real-time inventory and sales data.
This can result in a quicker turnaround of services, which will free employees to serve more customers. It also helps to reduce internal errors, which serves as a significant boost to customer satisfaction and retention. These areas should all be measured as the data integration tool is evaluated.
Perhaps the greatest measure of the impact of data integration is the overall growth of the company after implementation. Streamlined processes help eliminate inefficiencies, and that energy can then be applied toward greater capacity.
More customers can be served, inventory can be turned over more efficiently, and the company can experience faster growth as a result.
Today’s economy calls for fast and accurate service. With so many alternatives out there, a company cannot afford to fall behind in these critical areas. By streamlining internal processes through data integration, a company can serve its customers more efficiently.
Our guest author Annabelle Smyth is a freelance writer located in Salt Lake City, Utah. She enjoys writing about leadership, HR, and employee engagement. She has most recently worked with DocInfusion, writing about data integration best practices. When not writing and educating herself, you can find her hiking the canyons with her dog and friends.