Technology Integrations

 Integrations are essential to stay competitive, profitable, and allow your staff to work at their highest potential. As the adage says, adapt or die. However, each integration has multiple choices for data flows. For example, an integration may allow you to send contact information from Software A to Software B, from B to A, and/or among each other, with the latest  changes updated in both software programs. As such, you will have to decide the data flows you want, need, and which direction. The easiest method to decide is to visually  map the current and wish-we-had data flows to ensure there are no lost opportunities for having data flow update systems while staff focus on other work.

In order to identify and manage integrations, you will want to employ Stanford University’s Design Thinking™ methodology.

  • Empathize: Gain insight into your needs. What do you need the integration to do? Which problems will it solve and for whom?
  • Define the problems: Write out problem statements, such as ‘when I change an address, I need it to change in Software A, Software B, and send an email to the customer’. 
  • Ideate: Start to brainstorm solutions by drawing colored lines that indicate the type of data flow you seek. Bring this visual map to your current tech vendors and ask if they have the integrations you seek.
  • Prototype: Implement an integration that could solve the problem.
  • Test: Test your integration, while emphasizing with the staff that would be asked to use or manage the integration. Does it do what they would want? Does the benefit outweigh to effort of implementing the integration?

It is important to note that the five stages are not always sequential. For example, you may have to go back to the Ideate stage if your test did not work as expected. The stages should be understood as different modes that contribute to a project, rather than sequential steps. 

Benefits

Integrations are only as helpful as you allow them to be. When integrations are put into place, the benefits are:

  • Freed up employee time
  • Enhanced client experience
  • Reduction of human entry errors
  • Timely updates to management data
  • Improved productivity and workplace satisfaction

Exercise

Instructions:

  • Download the template
  • Duplicate slide 2 a few times so you have the inventory of software program images
  • On slide 2, create a master map that includes all your tech and integrations 
  • Duplicate slide 2 several times and then modify each slide to visually map the tech and integrations for major processes: Lead, Prospect, New Client, Scheduling Meetings, etc. Apply the Stanford method of thinking as you revisit and refine these maps to identify new and more meaningful integrations.
  • Schedule a recurring annual task to revisit and refine these visual maps. 

Reflect and Prioritize

The most successful and innovative businesses are those that best utilize tech integrations to maximize their staff’s potential and provide quality service to their clients. Integration and time-saving data flows should be at the top of any business priority list as there is a direct correlation between productivity, culture, client base growth, and profits.

Please remember to add any new epiphanies and ideas to your Master Plan of Ideas and Initiatives.