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Construction companies are becoming more and more complex these days, and some of the most important and complex aspects of any business are its software systems. Construction companies use their systems for project management, accounting, customer and sales management, marketing, and time tracking for employees. It's critical to have the right systems, have them work properly, and have them provide all the information that you need.
If you think your current technology might not be working for your business, here are some things to consider before implementing and integrating a new system.
Let’s start with some definitions. If you already know these, you’re ahead of the curve. If not, you can use this as a cheat sheet (we promise not to tell anyone).
What is System Implementation?
System implementation is a set of steps and procedures put in motion when a new system is added to the technological environment in which you are currently operating your business. You may be upgrading to a newer version of an existing program, looking at a brand-new product that will solve a problem for you, or switching from a manual process to an automated one using technology. No one will ever say that implementations are fun, but they don’t need to be terrible. In fact, implementations are sometimes described as going to the dentist for a root canal. You’ve heard it’s going to be awful, it may hurt while it’s happening, but you feel so much better when it’s over.
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Implementations should begin with a planning phase for you to think about who will be affected by the new system and how long it will take to become fully operational. The next phase will be to design how the system will work within your business and customize it to work with your internal processes (or create new processes if necessary). The implementation will be complete when you migrate data from one system to another and verify that your reporting output is accurate and available for use.
By the way, in the middle of those steps is “Deployment”, one of the most important parts of system implementation. Deployment is the physical act of rolling out the new system to all the people who will be using it and ensuring that everything works properly. People are what allow systems to work properly, so paying attention to your team during the implementation process will be extremely important in achieving short-term and long-term success for your new system. These three steps are key for deployment:
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What is System Integration?
Your business likely runs on several different systems, platforms, applications, and interfaces. They all do different tasks or create different sets of data, but each one is important in its own way. For this reason, adding a new system or software into the mix can be a stressful step. New systems need to be implemented to work properly, and then they need to be integrated into your existing technology landscape to create a larger system where all applications work together and communicate with each other.
In a technical sense, system integration is a process or component that connects different elements of your company’s technology into a cohesive system that takes data and information from various subsystems and folds them into one unified system. In a non-technical sense, system integration is a translator that lets different things talk to each other, even if they all speak different languages. Either way, you can think about a system integration as one of the last, and often one of the most challenging, steps in any system implementation.
Like system implementations, system integrations also follow specific steps and procedures. Integrations begin with understanding which systems you have, and which ones should be talking to each other. The next step is determining the best method for integrating your various systems and what that design looks like. Finally, everything must be verified and tested for ongoing use in your daily operations.
There are many technical and complicated ways to integrate your data, depending on what your business requires. For brevity, two of the most common ways to integrate your data are the following:
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What Comes Next?
As the saying goes, “Technology is great…when it works”. Many companies are using systems and software that may not be meeting their needs, or that simply do not integrate with each other. In this case, it might be time to look at implementing a new system to grow with you through the next phase of your company’s trajectory. Once you have implemented a new system, you then need to understand how the new system will interact and communicate with your existing systems and how everything will or will not work together.
A successful system implementation takes planning, resource deployment, patience, and a healthy level of realistic expectations about how long the process will take and how soon data and reporting from the new system will be at an acceptable level. A successful system integration mixes the knowledge of what needs to work together with the best solution to ensure that your new system can be fully integrated into your company’s technology infrastructure and that your suite of software and systems are working together to provide you with the most accurate and efficient data to run your business.
If you’d like to talk about construction technology, software, systems, and integrations with a Construction Technology Expert, schedule a free consultation with us today.
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