Manual data entry across siloed systems drags down efficiency and accuracy in your organisation. Mundanity and repetition breeds mistakes as staff become disengaged with their work.
The data inaccuracy resulting from human errors can generate financial losses in the form of lost business and opportunities. For example, a business that relies on manually-entered data not only risks high error rates but will also be at a disadvantage in scaling the company as it grows. When you have more data to collect and enter, you need more people dedicating hours of their day to such tasks. Instead of designing your processes to accommodate manual data entry across multiple platforms, you can integrate processes and systems to reduce mistakes and the time spent.
What does integration of processes include?
Integrating processes includes unifying systems, databases and people to automate data entry and consolidate information across applications. You might automate customer data entry to ensure that when someone fills out the information on one platform, it also becomes available elsewhere. Coordinating data entry across many platforms supports you in achieving greater accuracy while reducing errors.
When done correctly, business process integration can be a powerful tool for organisational success. However, it is essential to note that process integration is not a one-time event; instead, it is an ongoing journey that you should revisit regularly.
For example, you might adopt new platforms as your operations expand. If you bring on a new invoicing platform but have not considered how it fits with your existing business applications, or you do not connect it properly, you have just reintroduced another silo to the business.
Methods for supporting process integrations
There are a few approaches for connecting your systems to integrate processes:
- Point integrations (sometimes called Star integrations when there are many within a business) are bespoke integrations built between two or more systems, designed as a tactical solution to allow communications between them. They generally leverage APIs and are not overly costly to implement; however, they can accumulate costs as their maintenance and improvements are hard to manage.
- Third-party integrations are existing tools that you might leverage to bring your applications together. These are a type of point integration, however, given that the maintenance and improvement tasks are being managed by the development company, this makes it easier for you to adopt and use (providing their objectives align with your own). You might consider third-party integrations if the platform already has the right features for your business.
- Native integrations include any integration features built into your applications. For example, Slack and Wrike offer integrations without an organisation needing APIs or third-party software to connect the applications. The set-up process here is often relatively straightforward as you simply need to give an application permission to access another’s data. Again, these are a type of point integration; however, given the maintenance and improvement tasks are being managed by the company providing the software, this makes it easier for you to adopt and use if it fits your business case.
- Horizontal integrations involve a more strategic approach to the integration dilemma, generally involving an integration layer that communicates with all systems. This integration layer may be implemented by utilising an integration platform or iPaaS integration (such as SiPHON) to handle the connectivity between systems and the logical control of business logic and data flow. This approach allows you to scale easier, manage and improve integrations as they evolve, and keep hold of the ‘what where and how’ of your data flowing within the business. This takes a bit more investment up front than a point integration but pays dividends the more integrations you implement.
How the integration of processes reduces error rates
Systems integration has vastly improved process efficiency and business transformation for the companies we have worked alongside. It allows applications and platforms to communicate fluently and automate functions, thus increasing accuracy, providing a better service and new products whilst reducing resource costs.
Integrated systems enable information to flow between platforms, reducing the potential for errors as each platform checks and corroborates the data to ensure everything is correct and up to date. A single person manually cross-checking data within two apps is much more difficult, if not impossible, to get right every time.
How Creative Folks supports process integration
When we work with customers who need their systems talking to each other, we look at their applications, the underlying services these applications offer, and then overlay that with their strategy, goals and initiatives. Our expertise lies in understanding your ecosystem, highlighting the possibilities, presenting the options and deploying the right solution - in the right order - for you.