High-growth businesses are constantly making choices at every level. One of the hardest choices they are faced with is integrating the tools needed to function on a day-to-day basis – especially when it comes to the business software and platforms needed for daily operations. The challenge here is as companies grow, so do their requirements. Sometimes pre-existing/pre-built software programs and platforms will work just fine. But for other organizations, a custom-made system is what’s required.
More and more, companies are turning to experienced software development companies to custom-build the products and tools to fit their specific needs.
What is Integrated Software?
Integrated software “suites” or “bundles” are a collection of software especially created to work on closely related programs. All programs in an integrated package are accessed via a common launching pad. Computing has been revolutionized using integrated software due to the fact that the software is interconnected with little chance of information error because files can be imported with no need for conversion and no clash of formats.
The most commonly known pre-built integrated software suite is Microsoft Office, which contains the programs Excel, Outlook, Power Point, and Word.
As a side note, you can also get integrated software as a single program that contains the “module” for common business applications like word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, communications, presentations, etc. These are lower in cost than the larger suites and may be a better option for smaller companies who don’t need a whole “package” of included options based on their business model. Just be sure that the individual programs you purchase are compatible with one another and your other legacy systems.
Pros and Cons of Pre-Built Integrated Software Suites
These pre-built integrated software systems have been around for years and you have probably used at least one suite of services in your school/work life. Integrated software systems offer many advantages to companies of all sizes:
- They are low cost compared to buying each application separately
- They allow users the option to install all of the programs at the same time or only the programs the company needs/wants to use
- They offer a consistent interface from one application to another
- They allow users the ability to share information between applications
- They offer future upgrades that can be updated to each application all at the same time
- They are deal for personal use, professional use, large or small business
- Each application is the full-featured version
However, with some of these pre-built integrated software systems, the problem or disadvantage is that they are, pre-built, and don’t offer the flexibility and customization that companies require as they grow or their business model changes. (That’s where having a custom-built integrated software system from a reputable software developer is so valuable!) Some noted issues here include:
- High initial cost.
- All applications are from the same manufacturer. If you prefer a word processor from one company, a spreadsheet from a different manufacturer, etc. then you will definitely be facing a challenge. Software from different vendors do not always integrate with one another and you can’t share information from one program to the other.
- You may be purchasing more software than you actually need – not great for cost savings.
- Installation of the entire suite of applications can take up a large amount of storage space on your internal hard disk.
- Depending on the suite of software, there could be several large manuals to study if you plan to master each application. In some cases, the package might not include printed manuals in order to keep the cost low and you are using valuable work time learning how to use these programs off websites or electronic manuals/videos.
No Integrated System = Siloed Data
Some companies don’t think they need any type of integrated system in place. That decision can lead to many problems down the line. One of the biggest issues they face is siloed data. Siloed business models force companies to constantly draw off information from different sources and departments to derive true value. This can cause some major performance issues for the company as a whole and how it delivers its services or goods to their customers.
Traditional software packages function in siloes. That means business applications store their information in separate databases that require their own toolsets and interfaces to capture, store and interpret information.
As a result, data repositories often store duplicate, redundant information. There is an overall lack of data convergence that gives organizations an accurate view of business operations. When companies don’t have the accurate and up-to-date data and tools they need to run their company, it can slow down key decision-making processes. Management is struggling to find the correct data. Workflow dwindles. No one knows what data is correct, what’s duplicated, and what’s outdated. Not the way to run a company efficiently when results are expected.
Other issues that arise include:
Lack of Employee Productivity: If your employees are bogged down with inefficient and disjointed processes, it increases errors and takes time away from their more important core duties.
Lack of Real-time Visibility: When software systems are un-integrated, you have multiple overlapping databases, and cannot easily get a view of business performance in a timely fashion. That leads to countless hours of wasted time trying to tie unrelated, error-prone, and out of date data together.
Losing Customers to the Competition: If customer acquisition and revenue growth are key to your company's success, then you need an integrated software system stat! Competition is all around you, and it is essential that your company provide an exceptional customer experience or you risk having customers take their business elsewhere. If customers are unable to quickly get information, can’t resolve issues in a timely manner, or have to frequently deal with products being out of stock, they are less likely to purchase from you and will go to another source. An integrated software system ensures that customers have the right information and a positive experience, and your employees have the instantaneous access to all the customer information they need to service and sell to your customers.
Eliminating Multiple Dependencies
Companies who rely on multiple business-critical platforms are also looking at some potentially serious problems. The implementation of integrated software helps to prevent that. Integrated software solutions not only give you end-to-end views of your business and its workflows, but also stabilize the backend environment by bringing your software dependencies together. This eliminates data synchronization problems, compatibility issues, data duplication and dependence on multiple hardware and software solutions. By streamlining your software investments, you are streamlining your business performance.
For companies that aren’t using integrated software systems, chances are that your IT department is wasting an enormous amount of time and money on integrating, maintaining, and acquiring new versions of these applications (see lack of employee productivity above!). Once new versions of applications are purchased, IT teams have to spend more time integrating and conducting maintenance for all the different versions of software to work together.
Integrated Software System = Efficiency
The key word to keep in mind that an integrated software system can offer your business is EFFICIENCY.
A single software platform that converges multiple data channels makes it possible to identify and eliminate redundant data and focus on the more valuable metrics that help businesses achieve their goals. Integrated software systems store the data that is collected and stored in a unified database and managed through a single application.
Access level permissions and built-in security mechanisms ensure appropriate rights are assigned to each user in the system. Internal and external compliance standards are adhered to. Management can more easily pinpoint internal process problems, identify performance concerns and eliminate redundancies that exist within the internal workings of the company. It’s truly an efficient way to work!
With integrated software systems, the IT department no longer has to procure, install, and maintain multiple systems as well as the various integrations between them. This can lead to a significant reduction in operational costs and an improvement in business operations.
If your company is like so many others out there, the struggle to manage growth and costs effectively due to a tangle of disengaged systems is real. Or if you are investing loads of time and money into programs that don’t work together and are not providing the data you need to run your company efficiently, then maybe it’s time to give Code Authority a call.
Our in-house team of custom software developers can create an integrated business software system specifically for your company, eliminating those awful growing pains and leading you to a path of profitable growth. Contact us today for more information and a free estimate.