This is a guest post from Henrik Petersen, the Sales & Marketing Director at Deskera. Peterson has more than 20 years of experience in the enterprise software industry and has worked for Navision Software, Microsoft, and Seagate in the Asia Pacific region. ____ If you’re like most fast-growing organizations, you automated your business processes one-by-one as the pain of performing them manually became too excruciating to bear. Before long, your finance team was using an accounting package; your warehouse team was employing a separate inventory management system; your sales team had a CRM; or you were using some other set of mismatched solutions. Each of these systems individually does a bang-up job of streamlining its business process. But together they can be a nightmare. Because each application stores data separately, you wind up with siloed systems that don’t communicate storing duplicate data. Research suggests that over 80 percent of organizations report high or moderate degrees of data silos. These silos can wreak havoc across your organization by slashing productivity, reducing data accuracy and consistency, clouding visibility across the organization, and increasing costs. The remedy? An integrated business solution. Integrated business systems overcome these limitations. They provide multiple software modules that automate processes and store data in a single data repository, which means important information is accessible to your entire organization. Let’s look at how that benefits growing businesses.

1. Improved Productivity

Siloed applications are notorious for causing time consuming, labor intensive manual rework as staff repeatedly keys the same information into different systems. For example, the salesforce types orders into a CRM. Shipping clerks enter these orders into the order fulfillment system. Accounts payable repeats the process to create the invoice. When the time comes to create reports, managers find themselves foraging for the right data in spreadsheets across the organization — a quest that can take days or weeks. Because they store all of your data in one place, integrated business systems eliminate the need to manually re-enter data into multiple systems. They also free managers from searching through individual spreadsheets to find data for reports. The reporting process becomes faster and more productive. Shared data also improves business processes. For example, when purchasing managers instantly see new orders from the CRM, they can quickly reorder any necessary inventory without having to wait for an email about the order. Greater productivity means you can avoid new hires as your business expands or redeploy staff to higher value activities to help your business innovate and grow.

2. Accurate Data and Decisions

When data is entered manually, human error often means the wrong data is stored. Inaccurate data leads to poor decisions that hinder business success. Worse, when the same data is housed in different places, the organization has several versions of the truth. If one is updated and the other isn’t, data becomes inconsistent, creating confusion over what data is the most accurate and up-to-date. A centralized data repository eliminates inaccuracies and inconsistencies by eliminating rekeying. A single, accurate version of the truth gives you greater confidence in the data you use to make decisions.

3. Greater Visibility and Insights

Silos make it a hassle to get the right data to the right people across the organization in a timely manner. Because managers must manually sift through and extract data from many applications, reporting can drag on for weeks. This results in one of the following:
  1. Companies make slow decisions because they waste countless hours pulling together reports.
  2. Companies forgo the reporting process and instead make hasty and risky decisions from gut instinct.
Faulty or postponed decisions have a disastrous impact on your ability to accurately define customer requirements, chart the direction for your firm, analyze performance, or achieve a competitive edge. Integrated business systems provide tools that extract data from the data repository to improve business planning and performance tracking. Canned or ad hoc reporting tools allow organizations to create forecasts and make informed decisions from historical information. Dashboards display performance information and alert team members of problems as they occur — in easily understandable charts and graphs. Managers can use these tools to make informed decisions that improve customer satisfaction, competitive advantage, and business success.

4. Reduce IT Costs

Companies that run siloed systems face many unnecessary duplicate costs. These include capital costs for hardware and software, integration costs, IT management and maintenance for multiple applications, and upgrade costs for multiple applications. The upshot: IT spends most of their time and budget maintaining existing legacy systems rather than on improving business productivity. When IT no longer has to procure, install, and maintain multiple hardware solutions and software licenses (as well as the integrations between them), IT can slash maintenance efforts and operational costs. IT now has the wherewithal to devote time and budget to improving business operations and helping the company grow.

Closing Thoughts

Integrated business systems give you clear visibility across your business. Because you can easily see historical and real-time data, you improve business planning and continually measure progress to make course corrections along the way. This means you can react swiftly to changing business conditions to improve customer satisfaction and competitive advantage. By reducing IT costs, you devote more of your scarce IT resources to delivering greater business value. If your company struggles with the issues discussed above, it’s time to consider replacing your collection of systems with an integrated solution. Download Deskera’s eBook, Breaking Down the Data Silos to learn more.

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