By Stuart McLaren on Wed 13 May 2015 in CRM
The problem with integration… is the word ‘integration’ it is applied by so many people in so many circumstances that it has lost its true meaning.
The dictionary defines integration as follows:
“An act or instance of combining into an integral whole”
However, in modern software the word is applied to all manner of circumstances that actually could hardly be any further from this definition.
I have been personally involved with companies that were offered a new piece of software that would ‘integrate’ to their existing system (according to the sales consultant). But when it came to it, this ‘integration’ involved outputting a file from their existing system & then importing it into the new system – there was no connection, ‘no integral whole’ where the same information was available in both systems.
This becomes even more acute when you start looking at a web portal, if my customer receives special pricing, or products, or terms from me – that is most likely held in my back office system, without REAL ‘integration’ to a web portal, I am never going to succeed on the web.
The way around this is to talk about integrating your processes, rather than data being uploaded & downloaded.
If I issue a quotation from my CRM, and it is accepted, can I, at the click of a button, convert that quotation into a sales order in my back office solution, against the customer’s account, ready to be processed exactly as if I had simply keyed it in myself?
If I agree a special price for a customer on a product, once set in my stock system, and that customer logs on to my online portal to place an order, will that price for that product be reflected for them?
If a customer places an order on the telephone & it uses up their credit limit, should they decide to place a further order later that day via my web portal, will that credit situation be respected and a warning be displayed?
There are hundreds of examples where the integration of processes like these, answer the real questions about the integration of you systems. So for me that is where to start – look at the processes and make sure that the integration will support them. If your software doesn’t support your processes then you need a change.
Why not take a look at our whitepaper ‘Integration vs ‘integration’’ for a deeper insight into getting your integration right – focussing on your processes not your software.