Data Integration across Systems

Mark Canes

Week after week, we here at Blue Link Associates receive calls from business owners in desperate need of change to their existing software systems. The existing systems are hindering their business growth and, naturally enough, they want to do something about it. One of the common themes in these discussions is the lack of data integration across multiple systems.

Far too many business owners rely on various disparate systems to meet their needs. Initially, this may make sense – when the business is small, things are relatively simple. As the business grows, however, they soon find that many of these disparate systems have limitations when it comes to integration capabilities, and that can put a significant strain on their operations.

It is natural to want to grow your business slowly; gradually building and ramping up to coincide with sales. The problem with this approach is that by the time business starts to really take off, you may find yourself stumbling and spending money unnecessarily, on Band-Aid solutions and extra people to paper over the gaps.  Business owners would be better served by planning ahead and making some investments to help them in the long-run. This means that instead of adding workarounds to their current systems, they should implement a well-integrated solution to replace them all.

Robin Smith at Virtual Logistics Inc., a Blue Link partner, emphasized the need to have a corporate data integration strategy in a recent blog article. The reality, Robin says, is that integration is getting more and more complex, and not having a well-defined data integration strategy is going to cost lots of money in the long run. This goes hand in hand with a corporate strategy of defining both needs and objectives to be fulfilled by the ERP package. Blue Link and Virtual Logistics both believe that a well-defined strategy allows a company to handle the ups and downs and manage growth in a cost-effective manner.