Businesses operating now are guaranteed to require software to continue operating and be competitive. But integrating software into a business isn’t always a seamless experience. Any big changes in business operations could cause huge disruptions in day-to-day work and can set your business back significantly.
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
To prevent any of these disruptions, here are a few tips for ensuring your software integration is a smooth, quick process.
1. Answer the big questions
Before beginning the integration process, it’s important to have a few key questions answered first. You’ll need to know what type of software you want to integrate because that will let you know whether or not you need a team of software engineers to put it in place. If this isn’t something your business can handle financially, you might want to look at third-party, cloud-based, or zero trust architecture and applications from outside your business.
Next, you need to answer what type of data you need to be integrated. “Data” is a loaded word because it could refer to anything from product designs to customer information. The various applications you use will sort your information into categories, so it’s important to decide if some of your data can be combined and which ones. Doing this increases the chances that you’ll be able to see all relevant information across all applications.
4. Know what you already have
Depending on the size of your business, it’s likely that you’re not 100% aware of what goes on behind the scenes. Integrating new software can be exciting, but business owners can often overlook what solutions already exist in favor of a shiny new application. It’s possible that a problem you’re trying to solve could be fixed by existing software that isn’t being used to its fullest potential.
Before trying to replace existing processes, take a beat to understand what’s already there. And if you do not already have a solution to your problem, don’t automatically jump to software integration as the answer. It’s important to continue valuing your employees as problem-solvers in their own right and not override their talents in a rush to integrate new software.
3. Be a good listener
It’s likely that the most challenging part of this process is going to be helping your employees integrate this new software into their day-to-day operations. You may have already answered all the important questions and might feel like you took care of the biggest considerations. But if you want your new software integration to make your business run more smoothly, you have to ensure that your employees have their needs met. Being open to discussions and suggestions surrounding the integration will make your employees feel heard and help prevent huge problems before they develop.
4. Develop relationships with suppliers
A lot of work has to be done before software integration begins, and part of that work should be developing relationships with your most important suppliers. Establishing transparency and trust is going to help a lot with your integration down the road and can almost guarantee that you’ll have a successful transition. Integrating services can often be more complicated and difficult than integrating software, so don’t underestimate the importance of this step in the process.
5. Focus on the possibilities
It can be challenging to remove your focus from the development goals you’re hoping to achieve with software integration. Still, it’s important to be aware that things might turn out differently from what you expect. Your goal with software integration should be expanding your business’s capabilities and shouldn’t be more specific than that. You shouldn’t have the goal of “achieving” integration but should use the language of “working towards” a level of growth.
Having a broader sense of what you’re hoping to achieve can help prevent frustration and expand your understanding of what’s possible with integration. In a process that can be tricky and arduous, use these tips for a more streamlined experience.