Before the internet, companies generally kept their important information in physical folders. Leads were kept in one folder, sales data was kept in another and so on.
While this may have been the best method available at the time, there’s no denying that it wasn’t always very efficient. This was especially true of larger companies that had seemingly endless supplies of data and reports to sift through.
Fortunately, today’s tech allows us to keep all of the data we might need to run our business in one convenient location, where we can quickly access and view all relevant points of information in one place.
Or does it?
With so many different programs and data collection sources, it still isn’t always convenient or easy to look at your data all in one place. Because of this, data integration becomes an absolute must for everyone from ecommerce entrepreneurs to recruiting agencies.
The problem, of course, is that integrating your data, so you can enjoy a unified view of your information, isn’t always easy — or cheap. At the same time, it’s an absolute must for navigating today’s business world.
Thankfully, paying for data integration services doesn’t have to break the bank.
Here are three ways I’ve found to make it more affordable:
1) Minimize customization
One of the biggest challenges related to data integration is that often, there’s just too much information in your current programs. More often than not, this excess of data starts with perfectly good intentions.
When you install a program on your company’s network, you want to take advantage of the different customization options that will tailor it to your business.
While this is helpful when working with an individual ERP or CRM program, it can cause data integration costs to skyrocket due to the additional work the programs will need to perform.
The entire process will be much easier and cheaper if you simply reduce how many custom modules you use in your current programs.
In reality, most systems and applications already provide the functionality you need right out of the box, eliminating the need for custom add-ons.
Remember, the more custom add-ons you use in your current CRM suite, the more time-consuming and costly data integration will become. Utilize programs where everything you need comes standard — you’ll save money in more ways than one.
2) Clean up your data
Many companies see their data integration efforts go over budget because they think they need to integrate all of their information. Not only will this make the process much more time-consuming and expensive, it will also reduce your team’s efficiency once all the data has been synced.
For one thing, too much data can simply be overwhelming for your staff, hiding crucial insights behind an impenetrable wall of text and numbers. Even more problematic, however, is the fact that much of this data may be of low quality or completely irrelevant to your team’s needs.
So how do you clean up your data in preparation for using an integration system? In reality, you should start by establishing a company-wide commitment to collecting and using only high-quality information.
After all, incomplete or outdated sales lead forms will never do your team much good. Minimizing how many data fields you use and periodically clearing out inaccurate records from your source system will also help in these efforts.
You should also keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to sync all of your company’s data.
Using filters to eliminate low-quality or unwanted information will allow the data integration process to run more smoothly, reducing expenses and increasing your team’s efficiency after the integration is complete. Even something as simple as only syncing qualified sales leads to your sales staff can make a lasting difference.
3) Plan for the future
All too often, companies will focus on their current data integration needs without planning for the future. Though this may not have any immediate consequences, it can be disastrous for your long-term finances.
Those programs and systems that you’re integrating now likely won’t remain static forever.
Pretty much every system will periodically receive security updates and other key upgrades that can directly impact the way data is stored and processed. On a similar note, you may need to change which systems are linked to your integration tool as your company grows.
Data integration systems like RapidiOnline or Bedrock Data can go a long way in offsetting future costs with scalable solutions that are continually maintained to account for these types of changes.
Using the right tools to ensure you don’t need to pay for multiple “one-off” integrations will help you save a lot of money in the long run.
Information is power
While data integration isn’t always cheap, using these methods to increase the affordability of your chosen integration system will ensure that you have access to all the tools you need to succeed.
The more quality information you have readily available for your team, the easier it will be to make wise business decisions and avoid the mistakes that could cripple your business.
From dominating your sales leads to ensuring a streamlined manufacturing process, everything you do to better leverage your data will lead to lasting results.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.