I am working with a client that has about 10 employees. They are starting to hit a wall when it comes to productivity. While each of their systems have a bunch of nice features, none of them integrate with each other. As a result, they spend most of their time moving information back and forth. The more their business grows, the slower their back office processes become.
Here is an example: when someone buys something from the online store, that information has to be manually entered into the accounting software. The customer information must be manually entered into the customer relationship management system. If a customer gets a refund, the accountant handles the refund, but then the information must manually be entered in the online store to adjust the inventory levels.
While all of their software is considered “best of breed,” none of it talks with the other parts of the process. When it comes to their productivity, they would be better off with fewer features and better integration.
Your Integrated Solution
When you design your personal work flow, make sure that integration is your top priority. For example, when you add a personal contact to your address book, does it automatically show up on your cell phone? If your spouse adds an appointment to the calendar on her computer, does it automatically show up in your PDA?
If you choose your solutions based on integration instead of features, you’ll increase your productivity–even if you have to sacrifice some features. If you choose your solutions based on features and ignore the integration aspect, the time savings benefits will be greatly reduced.
When you are looking for ways to increase your productivity, look for the right process–not the right tools. The best time management software/gadget/planner in the world is only as good as the process it enables. A well-designed integrated process with average tools is much more productive than the best tools, but no integrated process.
Originally published June 25, 2007. Oh and this client is now using a fully integrated system that doesn’t have any of the duplicate entry issues described above.