As rapidly as companies grow, so too can they come crashing down, entangled in a complex landscape of business applications and accounting software. When operating in multiple systems, businesses are putting themselves at risk of facing potentially damning repercussions, such as slow service and inaccurate information. The e-commerce process, when integrated into your system, allows for greater fiscal considerations to be taken and helps avoid a variety of spreadsheet workarounds. Without it, companies are setting themselves up for a failure of business architecture, handling short-term goals sub-optimally while simultaneously hurting the company’s ability to properly scale over the coming years in the system.

If a disconnect exists between your front and back end systems, money and time is wasted. By neglecting to integrate your office, your employees are forced to do extra work and risk more errors; wasting time on duplicate manual data entry and moving between your disparate systems. For your business, integration means that information is available across your organization, drawing from a single location or database for sales, inventory and fiscal platforms. In the years prior, an integrated system like the one proposed here would have been thought of as a small business pipedream, rather than a potential reality. Fortunately, with the price of technology constantly declining and the advent of cloud computing breaking down previous barriers to entry, more and more small businesses are gaining access to the previously inaccessible.   

Integrated systems help to minimize data complication by shortening the number of locations in which you store data. An integrated system for your office combines the function of otherwise disparate systems into a single unified program, negating the need for disparate platforms like spreadsheets and word processors, instead combining them with your database system and more. Through this process, separate departments can be merged into a single unified silo for data. Moreover, through better integration, a lot of tedious data entry is cut out of the equation.

If by chance you have a separate database in place for your email marketing, order management, inventory control and other such business processes, you likely face the challenges which run in tandem with the use of multiple systems and a lack of integration. Ridding your company of these troublesome data silos can be quite the undertaking, but it is critical to the success of your business. To keep your business growing, it is essential that you integrate this data into a single platform that leads to cost savings, improved productivity and other competitive advantages, like those we will explore herein.

1. Inventory Management

Managing your inventory is about knowing your warehouse, its stock levels, item locations, etc. Bearing this in mind, unless your system boasts integration between your disparate departments, a system for inventory management can hardly track stock and the movement of items through the organization properly.

Without proper inventory visibility, effective operation of your company can become difficult—think discrepancies between financial reports and physical stock slowing down your pipeline. Worse yet, it may end up shutting down your pipeline entirely, leading to operational gridlock. Without manual interaction with your disparate systems, understanding of your inventory levels cannot be achieved and your business will suffer for it.

With the integration of your platform, you gain access to visibility of the company’s inventory levels and can ensure that enough stock is available in your warehouses for your customer’s orders and inventory level maintenance. By giving the employees and decision-makers at your organizations access to this information they can better manage inventory levels and help your company meet demands and continue to grow.

2. Organizational Visibility

Through dramatic improvements to visibility, companies can make more effective decisions more rapidly. With information that is available on demand from any internet enabled device, your organization can avoid wasting time and resources in the extraction, organization, and presentation of data from multiple sources. Rather than needing to compile this information, it is available readily, with employees reaping the benefits of being better informed.

An integrated platform also helps in data pattern recognition, with the system, aggregating and harmonizing the data from each one of your departments for you. From this holistic view of your critical data, decision makers and analysts within your organization can see patterns within your operation which were previously unknowable, empowering them to either correct or encourage the patterns as they see fit.

3. Accurate Finances

By ensuring that annual reports and tax returns are done quickly and accurately, your organization, its investors, and the government are likely to thank you. Having a good understanding of your inventory is invaluable because your inventory makes up a significant portion of your company’s assets in many cases. This means that having a detailed record of it means having a detailed record of the value of your warehouse. This can be helpful knowledge to have when making decisions regarding future expenditure, taxes, and the competitive position of the organization.

An efficient platform for integrated financial management, such as that offered in some ERP platforms, will allow companies of varying sizes can track their finances accurately, and automatically, freeing up accounts staff, and aiding decision makers in deciding where to spend in the future. In fact, we’ve done a whole article on how integration is key to a successful accounts department and billing process.

4. Accelerated Growth

With an integrated software system in place, expansion of an organization becomes a more manageable process, only undertaken when visibility has afforded you with the knowledge that an opportunity for expansion exists. By using an integrated system, sales channels can be empowered to operate much more quickly, making use of integrated accounting, ordering, and sales data. This quickened operating speed also helps to promote growth within your organization, and the expansion of your client base.

While scalability is sometimes overlooked by lesser ERP providers during the integration process, it’s importance to your company’s success and its continued growth must not be overlooked. Today, collaboration tools help organizations distribute their workforces, and expand their teams. Your ERP system needs to support this growth, with the integration of data ensuring that all your users, regardless of distribution, have access to the same information as those on site.

5. Process Efficiency Across Your Organization

The conduct of your processes is of obvious importance to the continued profitability and longevity of your operation. Integrated systems improve the operational efficiency of your company, with integration making your daily tasks such as fulfillment, invoicing, expensing, order management, and customer data entry things of relative ease compared to your old system. With a system such as this, your company can hope to benefit from an increased capacity for productivity, collaboration, and data retrieval.

The first thing you’ll notice is your newfound productivity. Through integration, the system refocuses your efforts, allowing you to spend time conducting big picture operations rather than focusing on making sure that your disparate departments are operating together effectively. An integrational platform will also bolster your employees’ ability to collaborate. Because of their shared data and cloud-based accessibility, employees of companies working in an integrated cloud platform can collaborate effectively, regardless of departmental differences or the distance between them.

The Growing Accessibility of Advantages

With the goal of integrating your business processes into a single system you can hope to benefit from an increase in potential revenue and a reduction in operational costs. However, well beyond the money aspect of the issue, an integrated system makes your operation operate more effectively, efficiently, and rapidly. When your solution is well designed and well suited to your companies needs the integration it provides you should make your life easier, allowing for equally fast access to departmental data from any department; from the floor of your call center to the floor of your warehouse. For many businesses, the easiest and most effective way for an organization to meet these integration goals is through the adoption of an ERP platform that fills the gaps that would be left from abandoning disparate business systems.

ERP systems, while slower to make the move to the cloud platform, have been slowly but surely making the shift in the last decade. During this time, we’ve seen frontrunners in the ERP market offer cloud-based products, marking a clear shift in the market and a confidence in the cloud platform from ERP providers. This promising trend of cloud development and adoption is benefitting companies across markets and scales. That said, it has been especially impactful to small and mid-sized businesses who could, up to this point, ill afford to adopt an expensive hardware and software platform, regardless of the potential benefits which could be realized through integration.