As a refresher of our last post, we discussed how your business tools should function like a well-balanced ecosystem, with each tool providing their own value without being detrimental to your other tools and processes. If you want to fully reread, or check out for the first time, that post you can find the link here!
One of our suggestions from that post was to look for integrations, because business tool integrations can provide so many amazing benefits for you and your team. Integrations help make sure that information is able to flow freely from one business tool to another, sharing important data and making it more accessible. If you were convinced that integrations could help your business, you might have been wondering where to go next. That’s why we wanted to write this guide on how to approach integrating your different business tools. We want to leave you with a guide that you can take to your team, your manager, or use on your own to start your business tool integration process.
The first step to this process should be nailing down what exactly you are hoping to gain by integrating different software. Maybe you want to save time, so you are hoping to combine tools that you often use simultaneously to avoid having to switch between different windows. Or maybe you have noticed gaps in your customer service when your agents can’t easily access information that would be helpful when dealing with customer concerns.
If you’re a team using multiple business software tools then your integration combinations could be essentially endless. By taking the time to define your goals you will be able to get a better picture of which tools can be combined to help you achieve them.
Remember, integrations are only beneficial if they make your life easier. Don’t get tied down trying to combine tools that won’t help you reach your goals.
Based on your integration goals, this step can really vary from business to business. Integrating two tools will look very different than creating one centralized workspace hosting all of your business tools.
Integrating a few tools: You can look for tools that are designed to be integrated into tools that you already love. Let’s use Yodel as an example: Yodel is designed to be easily integrated into Slack, CRM software, and other business software. By picking tools made to be integrated, it has never been easier to connect your software. Yodel is just one of many tools that are designed to be integrated. Our best tip? Go back to your goals and see if the tools you are currently using are best able to meet them. If alternatives can be used that are more conducive to meet your integration goals, consider making a switch.
Integrating most or all of your tools: If your goal is to integrate all of the software that you are currently using, you need to look at two key components: centralizing and syncing. Centralizing data will look at taking data from different sources into one place that your team can easily access. Then, look to sync data two-ways across tools so that you can streamline specific business processes. These steps can be done looking at either native integrations or by using integration platforms to help.
This is where you can really set yourself and your team up for success. Going into a software integration, or proposing it to the rest of your team, can really benefit from a clearly defined map of the process.
Whether it’s you or your team using the tools, it makes sense to define how this integration will change different processes. It can be as simple as, instead of opening two windows you just need to open one. But, sometimes it requires a little bit more explanation. Either way, it makes sense to share how workflows will change at the user level. This stage can also serve as a double check for you, as you make sure that the integration at the user level will help you achieve those integration goals.
Make sure that you have already identified how the tools are going to be connected, and if you are using integration platforms that they are compatible with your specific integration needs.
If your proposed integration will require a higher speed network or increased storage capacity on your computers it is important to know that before you start the integration process. One way to mitigate this is to look at cloud-based integrations and software, as they can help you reduce the need for on-site storage.
Define the KPIs that will be helpful to know if the integration was successful. Whether that is increased productivity, increased customer satisfaction, or reducing errors, it is beneficial to note your KPIs as a part of your integration process map.
Finally you’re ready to present your integration proposal to your team or manager. Start by sharing why the integration is necessary, and the problems that it will help to solve. From there you can present your integration strategy and the process map to clearly define the necessary actions to take in order to integrate your tools. You should feel confident knowing that you have been able to create a comprehensive plan that shows the benefits of integrating your business tools.
Integrations are able to be incredibly beneficial to teams. Taking the time to plan out your integration strategy will make the integration process much smoother than it may have been otherwise.
Has your team recently integrated any tools? How was it beneficial to you and your workflow? Let us know!