Integration Explained – A Guide for the Non-tech Set
Even if technology is not your game, you’re likely keen to learn about finding ways to keep your systems talking to support the optimal performance levels of your business. (Who wouldn’t be?) Technology integration is an integral part of your business operations and, in few areas of the business is more critical than as it relates to your eCommerce, your payment processing and your bookkeeping/accounting. So, let’s spend some time drilling down on integration for beginners and beyond.
Everything You Need to Rise Up to Integration Mastery
What do we mean when we say integration? Integration, also referred to as systems integration, is the connection of technologies. Integration needs can encompass systems that house your customer data, applications that process payment or record inventory, as well as bookkeeping or accounting software and other types of systems. In simplistic terms, you can compare it to departments of your business. You want your marketing team to communicate new promotions to the sales team so they can succeed at selling more products and sales to the customers. You want the operations team to keep the product development team up to speed on price changes to materials so adjustments can be made in the selling price as needed. When human beings communicate and collaborate, they break down silos, eliminate bottlenecks and optimize results. The same is needed for the technology stack. This is where your technology integration goals should be.
What are the benefits of being fully integrated? As alluded to in the question above, the integration of your technology is a core necessity for your business that offers significant benefits that can’t be overlooked. You could be spending tons on technology tools but still losing if you’re not integrated. Here are some things that can occur if integration is not optimized:
- Manual processes wasting time and money.
- Employee dissatisfaction leading to low retention rates, poor productivity and recruiting issues.
- Mistakes or lack of insight into company data that causes inaccurate decisions to be drawn from data or exposes your company to risk.
- Budget dollars spent on technology tools that are not being used to their fullest potential.
Those are simply a few of the real-world scenarios that can happen when technology integration is lacking. When you integrate your systems across your organization, it becomes more efficient, productive, and agile.
What does technology integration look like? Take a moment and reflect on the tech stack that your business uses. Off the top of your head, you will most likely come up with a minimum of three to five software programs that you and your team are using for operations, sales, marketing and accounting. Your business has its own unique operational trajectory, but integration of your tech undoubtedly will help optimize your business. Here are some examples of how technology integration can help your business goals:
- Lead generation – Your technology integration can encompass your lead generation efforts. For example, if you are collecting email addresses from your website (or other sources), these prospects can automatically be flagged and folded into your email database.
- Data sync – By having your technology integrated, you can capture customer data, including email, purchase history and other data. This data capture can be synced with multiple systems like your CRM, your email marketing system or your QuickBooks.
- Real-time inventory – Connecting your inventory tools to your eCommerce shopping portals to your accounting software can create a real-time inventory chain that allows your business to operate efficiently and improve your customer experience.
- Automate Processes – Manual processes can create a multitude of issues for your business ranging from wasted money and time, employee dissatisfaction and/or risk of mistakes and inaccuracies.
What does engagement with an integration professional look like? Agile Planners brings expertise in accounting, operations and technology to the table to support the overarching goals of your business. After gaining an in-depth knowledge base of how your company operates and the current tech stack, Agile Planners comes back with a roadmap to synchronize, integrate and optimize. This may include a training program for employees, an audit of data and an assessment of your tech stack that may advise you to update/expand your tech stack (or decrease as the case may be) and more. At the end of the process, you and your team will be set up to move forward and empowered to use your technology tools to their fullest potential.
What types of tools does Agile Planners work with? Agile Planners consists of a team of seasoned professionals that are advanced certified QuickBooks Pros as well as well-versed in using popular apps like Zapier and Automate.io (among many others) to help clients get their technology integrated. Agile Planners can help recommend new tools that may be needed to facilitate your integration as well as consult on your proprietary systems.
Agile Planners partners with your business to help you optimize the operations and accounting functions of your business, so you’re freed up to do what you do best – focus on the big picture. Technology integration is the key to success; there’s no getting around that! But, Agile Planners can take the heavy lifting off your plate so you can increase efficiency, improve your customer satisfaction, reduce risk and stay competitive in your marketplace. It’s a win-win-win.