Drawing up your 2020 business plan can be especially daunting when you’re trying to figure out how to actually hit your targets.
Operational efficiency is usually towards the top of the priority list because it works towards multiple goals…at least in theory. In reality, they’re no more than buzzwords unless a very important question is answered: how do you execute on such a vague directive? One of the best ways to achieve this is by connecting the most common enterprise applications that people use to actually perform their day-to-day work, a concept known as integration.
Why is integration so important? Integration automates manual tasks, maximizes the value of your enterprise applications, and helps teams across different departments cooperate better together. A successful integration strategy doesn’t just connect applications together but helps organizations as a whole achieve multiple strategic goals.
Don’t think of integration as just an IT initiative. Modern workers use an average of 9.3 enterprise software applications to perform their job, and 43% think that they have to switch between too many apps just to get basic work done. Integration is in everyone’s interest, and the good news is that they’re actually a lot more accessible to nontechnical users than you think.
For the big question: how does integration help you reach your 2020 goals? In the following sections, we’ve outlined a few of the most common targets to explain how integrations play a big role in achieving them.
1. Revenue growth
As you draft up your revenue growth targets, you must also consider whether your operations can sufficiently scale to support that growth. How would you handle 100% more intake in your sales pipeline? Some businesses might find that achieving higher targets are possible, but scale back their targets because of manpower and process limitations. After all, no one wants to be in a situation where they can’t keep up with growth.
One of the best ways to scale your operations is by integrating your most commonly applications to automate key processes. Some specific examples where automation can help induce growth include: invoice generation, price adjustments, contract renewals, order processing from multiple storefronts, and the entire lead-to-cash process. Integration makes a direct impact on revenue growth by streamlining your operations, enabling them to scale.
2. Cutting costs
Inefficiency leads to unnecessary expenditures. It can take on many forms: manual tasks eating up too much time that could be better spent elsewhere, bringing in contractors during busy periods because processes aren’t scaled, relevant data not going everywhere it needs to be, and data entry mistakes that can spiral into bigger problems. Closing as many of these pitfalls as possible is the obvious course of action; less obvious is how to go about it.
Fortunately, this is another area where an integration strategy can make a big impact. For instance, synching product and inventory adjustments in real-time means you don’t have to update thousands of SKUs individually. Eliminating the need to manually record journal entries makes the workload far more manageable in busy times, perhaps avoiding extra headcount. Data needed by multiple departments are sent to their application of choice, rather than tussling over back-and-forth email exchanges. These are just the tip of the iceberg, but the point is that integration dramatically increases productivity and nips all kinds of unnecessary costs in the bud.
3. Delivering a better customer experience
You’ve probably read dozens upon dozens of studies, articles, essays, and other various think pieces extolling the importance of the customer experience; we won’t retread the obvious here. What merits further exploration are actionable ways to deliver the improved experience your customers expect. Perhaps there’s a gap between a customer submitting an inquiry and a human actually getting in touch with them. Sometimes your support staff might not have total visibility into a customer’s past interactions, or all of the answers they need to help someone. It could be that you simply want to work on your overall turnaround times. Everyone wants to deliver the smoothest, fastest, more nurturing customer experience, but oftentimes the way customer-facing and back-end systems are set up can prove to be an obstacle.
These pitfalls happen because key touchpoints on the customer journey sit on disparate systems; the solution is to integrate your shopfronts, CRM, payments systems and whatever else you use to manage the customer-facing side of your business. To give an example, integrating your web platform with your CRM or messenger of choice will get customer inquiries to the right person as soon as they’re filled out. Snags in the customer journey are systems issues, not people issues, and it is in this way that integration can bridge the gaps.
Integration sounds great on paper, but you now probably have a ton of questions. What exactly does this mean for my specific company’s operating plan? How long would it take to implement? Where do I even start with all this?
We’ve got some resources to answer all of these questions and more. “What is iPaaS?” explains everything you need to know about how to integrate, while our “How to Create an Integration Strategy” whitepaper provides useful tips to help you tie specific integrations into your overall strategic plan. If you’d prefer to reach out to an actual human being and bounce off ideas for your strategy, our friendly integration specialists are always happy to help on our live chat.
Including an integration strategy in your operations plan will set you on the right path to achieving your overall business goals in 2020.