What does it mean to integrate? How can we transform from dysfunctional silos to an efficient operational team? Can technology fix culture?
What does an integrated system look like? What is the benefit of a seamless system?
Integration – a marriage of opposites?
“Opposites attract”, is a familiar term to many, and certainly true of my relationships. My wife Nicole is the complete opposite to me, not only in her skills but also her outlook and her perspective. She is the ice breaker, the connector, the networker, the handy woman, the gardener, the extrovert, the organizer, and the planner. She is hugely creative, but in different contexts. She can review a form, and instantly know what to do to improve it. She can review processes and paper and make sense of how they fit now, but also how they should fit better. She has managed large teams, and hugely complex document and classification systems. When I get stuck, or find a gap, she almost always has the answer! Where we overlap, when we come together, the capacity for creativity and innovation is multiplied.
For this reason I deliberately work with and choose people for our team, with strong personalities and vastly different skills and experience. They literally have decades of experience, and know an awful lot, but are not “know it alls”. It works because we have a culture of mutual trust, focused on outcomes, and respect for our unique perspectives and skills. Whilst for example I’ve studied broadly and did some marketing courses and was a very successful director of sales and marketing in banking and later in IT, I defer to Françoise on branding and experience as it is hard to beat her 35 years of expertise.
I love the fact that we all bring something new to our engagements. There is value in a fresh perspective, and power in engaging with those that challenge your view. I’ve learnt that it is not about “my view is right and yours is wrong” but that both have value. I read recently that one of the reasons Apple have been so successful, is that they value these creative tensions.
I was at dinner just this week, speaking with a senior guy from an innovative company. He related a story of how he had lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in a failed restructuring of his business as his staff felt they could not challenge him. He commented that “of course, I guess all companies have that issue”. I was sitting next to Françoise and could not help but immediately disagree with his view. “Clearly, you didn’t have someone like Françoise on your team!”, I said.
Integrating Systems – opportunities and risks.
When we are invited to work with new clients, it is usually because they have become frustrated with the lack of integration across systems. The re-keying of data is costly, the gaps in knowledge puts relationships at risk, the effort to collate and report on key measures is time consuming.
I still remember some time ago as particularly bad example of the pain of all this for a client. The organisation was a large waste management firm, with some 7000 staff, and we were engaged to review their sales and marketing systems and processes. The team had just been put together as part of a new restructure. We met with the team managers, and it was clear from the outset that much work needed to be done culturally to integrate and leverage the strengths from the various personalities. What surprised me was that their was no deliberate plan to address this, the coming together of the teams from each state into one unit, would surely “sort itself out?”. We then interviewed each senior sales representative and looked at their systems and processes. One described the situation beautifully “It is so embarrassing to meet with a client, and find yourself in a situation where they know more about their relationship with you, than you do about them!” We proposed an integrated system, that filled many of the gaps, but elected not to proceed further given their cultural issues.
Technology, is an amplifier, if the business is dysfunctional, throwing technology at the problem, is like adding an accelerant to the fire, it just burns faster.
Integration of systems, for me, is as much about integrating teams, and opposites as it is about integrating technology. For the people, it is about cultural transformation and transition, taking the best of the old and embracing the new. We have in our experience and DNA, the core skills to help, and the tools and methodologies to engage and align staff with the desired goals and objectives.
Today we provide a solution that integrates the people or cultural change elements, with the process improvements in a way that truly delivers high performance outcomes for your business.
Seamless Integration – What are the Benefits?
The key is to make all this seamless, some talk about how their system integrates with others, but the user switches between different systems, as they walk through the process. If I am an account manager in sales, for example and I want to see if client is up to date on their payments, with other systems I would switch to the finance system to find the client and their payment history. In Streamline we make this seamless as the financial data is simply displayed on the client view, alongside tasks and meetings and other sales activities. No need to switch to or learn another interfaces.
We leverage the full power of the Salesforce1 platform, with class leading APIs, we are confident we have the keys and practical experience to integrate with your HR, Finance, Rostering and other enterprise systems.
See more on what is available in the Streamline Edge Application Toolkit, or talk to us today about how we can truly integrate your teams, streamline your processes and seamlessly integrate your systems.