In today’s business world, efficiency and cohesive operation are vital to success, thus a multitude of tools and processes are relied on to keep everything running smoothly. One key element that often goes unnoticed but expands the crucial role of a business system is the integrations connecting them. In this blog, we’ll dive into the world of business systems, exploring what they are, why they’re important, and how business system integration extends their effectiveness.
What is a Business System?
A business system is the backbone of an organization, an intricate web of components, processes, and functions designed to achieve specific business objectives. Think of it as the central nervous system that ensures distinct parts of a business work together in harmony. These systems are categorized into various types, depending on their purpose.
Here are a few examples:
- Financial Systems – Accounting Software, Payroll Systems, and Reporting Platforms include tools like QuickBooks or Xero streamline financial transactions, ADP to manage payroll, or visualizing data using PowerBI
- Sales and Marketing Systems – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software, Sales Automation, and Digital Marketing Platforms like Salesforce, HubSpot, and MailChimp help businesses manage customer relationships, sales leads, and communication ranging from email marketing to social media management, and digital marketing systems boost your online presence.
- Supply Chain Systems – Order Processing Software, Inventory Management, and Logistics Platforms include large systems such as SAP Integrated Business Planning or Oracle Order Management, and new players like Shopify or Logiwa to efficiently process customer orders and maintain inventory control. Tools like ShipStation and FreightPOP optimize shipping and delivery processes.
Business System Integration
While these systems are valuable on their own, their true potential is realized through integration. Business system integration is the process of connecting and coordinating various technologies, systems, and applications within an organization to work together seamlessly. It’s the magic that happens when your CRM talks to your financial system, and your inventory management system communicates with your sales automation tool. Integration can take place through various methods and technologies:
- APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) – APIs are like bridges that connect different software applications. They enable web-based integrations, allowing systems to communicate and share data. For example, a CRM can integrate with an email marketing tool via APIs, so customer data can be used for targeted email campaigns.
- Middleware or Data Integration – Middleware serves as an intermediary platform between different applications, facilitating the exchange of data. It acts as a translator, ensuring that data flows seamlessly between systems. This is especially useful when dealing with legacy systems or software that doesn’t have native integration capabilities.
- Custom Development – In some cases, businesses may require unique, tailored solutions. Custom development involves creating custom code to connect and integrate specific systems, ensuring they work together perfectly. This is a highly flexible option but can be more time-consuming and costly.
An Example of Business System Integration
Let’s take a practical example to understand how business system integration works. Imagine your business uses HubSpot as its CRM and ProjectWorks for Professional Services Resource Planning. These two systems serve different purposes but integrating them can greatly enhance your operations.
One way to achieve this integration is by using FME (Feature Manipulation Engine), a powerful data integration platform. With FME, you can connect hundreds of business systems, databases, and file types, including HubSpot and ProjectWorks. This level of extension allows limitless data transfer and communication between these two (and many additional) systems. By combining CRM data with your resource planning system, you can streamline project management, track customer interactions, and enhance resource planning.
In a recent FME Fireside instalment, our Digital Engineering team discussed how this integration benefits your business. We also share lessons learnt from previous projects and how to use the newest features included with FME:23.
In conclusion, business systems are the unsung heroes of modern organizations, ensuring that various processes and functions work together efficiently. Integrating these systems is the key to unlocking their full potential, and with the right methods and technologies, businesses can create a harmonious ecosystem where data flows effortlessly, and operations run like a well-oiled machine. So, if you haven’t considered business system integration, now might be the perfect time to start exploring how it can take your business to the next level.