Mark at Productivity501 uses an example of a client’s accounting system to illustrate the importance of integrating processes over having “best of breed” software.
“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.”
My response is a hearty “Amen!” If I had a nickel for every dysfunctional work process I’ve seen I could stop working for a living and blog full time. I’ll go a bit further than Mark, though, and say that lack of integration isn’t just limited to software. Processes can break down for a whole host of reasons:
People – if you have employees who just cannot work as part of a team, the best designed work process will not function to its potential.
Physical Space – if people, or departments, who should be working together are too separated physically, communication is thwarted. While modern communication tools are great, and have done wonders for keeping people connected, there is no substitute for the regular, spur-of-the-moment face-to-face contact.
Strategy – by this I mean the lack of communicating the strategy to your people. It doesn’t matter if it’s because a strategy doesn’t exist or because you don’t communicate that strategy to the rest of the organization – if your people are making decisions in a vacuum they won’t all be on the same page.
These are just off the top of my head. I’m sure there are plenty of others. Care to add your two cents?
One last bit of wisdom from Mark:
“A well designed integrated process with average tools is much more productive than the best tools, but no integrated process.”