An IT project failure can take many forms. Sometimes, failure looks like a lack of system usage. Other times, it looks like a litany of technological shortcomings.

One form of failure we often see in our software expert witness experience is a technological and operational nightmare caused by a lack of system integration. This type of IT failure can directly impact your bottom line.

Today, we’re talking about how disparate systems can wreak havoc on your organization. This should help you convince your project team to prioritize system integration moving forward. After all, it’s one of the keys to a successful ERP implementation.

5 Dangers of a Lack of System Integration

1. Scattered Data

When your teams are storing information on various systems, there’s no single point of reference. Over time, it becomes difficult to tell which version of data is the most recent, relevant, and correct.

Even if you implement a form of version control, it’s still hard to share data when it’s scattered all over the network. This hinders productivity and impedes workflows, making it difficult for employees to collaborate. 

For instance, if the project management team needs an update from the sales team, they may have to wait until a salesperson is available to take their call and relay that information. However, when systems are integrated, anyone can log on at any time and get access to the real-time data they require.

A Failed Payroll System Implementation

Panorama’s Expert Witness team was retained to provide a forensic analysis and written report to the court regarding the failed implementation of a major software developer’s ERP/payroll system.

2. Manual Processes

Without system integration, the programs in your workplace can’t “speak” to one another. This makes it nearly impossible to automate any type of workflow that involves cross-departmental collaboration

As a result, most of these processes remain manual, requiring employees to spend far too much time and energy on rote tasks.

That energy could be re-directed toward more value-driving activities if the steps were to be automated. This is possible with system integration, which allows various systems, such as your ERP software and CRM software, to connect and share data.

However, integration alone isn’t the golden ticket. You may need to perform business process reengineering to ensure your workflows are efficient before integrating your systems. 

3. Lack of Performance Insight

When your systems are siloed, it’s hard to tell how your organization is performing as a whole.

Business leaders need a complete, 360-degree perspective of their operations, including performance updates from every department. Armed with a knowledge of their organization’s end-to-end processes, they can trace each issue back to its root cause in a specific part of a workflow. Then, they can act immediately to fix the issue and prevent it from snowballing.

While your disparate software systems may include their own unique data analytics capabilities, combining these insights in a piecemeal fashion allows plenty of room for user error and miscalculation.

With integrated, automated platforms, you can easily access comprehensive reports that cover every part of your business, from multiple angles. This facilitates better-informed decisions and allows you to put plans in place to optimize growth and mitigate risk. 

4. Customer Frustration

When teams aren’t working together across every part of the value chain, customers can tell. There’s an obvious disconnect in communication as no one knows who to turn to for the data they need. 

These problems are brought into the spotlight when a customer calls, emails, or opens a chat to pose a question. The representative who answers will likely need information from other people in the company to get a full picture of what’s going on. If they can’t reach them in a timely manner and get the information they need, the customer could abandon the conversation and take their business elsewhere. 

Each employee has a valuable role in the customer journey, from the warehouse managers to the sales team. When they can’t collaborate, the chaos is evident.

System integration is key to saving your brand’s reputation and delighting both current and prospective buyers. 

5. Low User Adoption Rates

If you continue to add new systems without integrating them with one another, the learning curve for employees could be higher than necessary. Employees would have to re-learn workflows with each new implementation.

Then, there’s the issue of distrust and resistance. Simply introducing a system without explaining how it works with existing systems is a recipe for disaster.

Employees take change personally, and they want to know what’s in it for them. If the new setup is fractured and siloed, these benefits will be difficult for you to articulate. As a result, employees are unlikely to embrace the new system, even if it’s one of the top ERP systems

This is especially the case for mobile or remote workers, who may already feel isolated and removed from on-premise data and applications. Their work experience can suffer if they’re required to log into multiple systems synchronously just to get their jobs done.

System integration ensures these employees have a single access point, so they can log in from anywhere and see everything they need at once. 

Should You Integrate Your Systems or Implement a Single ERP System?

Companies are shifting away from scattered, on-premise legacy systems and onto cloud-based enterprise software solutions that integrate all their business functions into one centralized platform. 

This is often a smarter choice than integrating all your existing systems. An ERP system can replace these systems and consolidate all relevant data and workflows into a single network.

Regardless of the path you choose, preventing a lack of system integration is what’s important. To learn more about system integration and the benefits of single systems contact our ERP consulting firm below. 

About the author

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As Director of Panorama’s Expert Witness Practice, Bill oversees all expert witness engagements. In addition, he concurrently provides oversight on a number of ERP selection and implementation projects for manufacturing, distribution, healthcare, and public sector clients.

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