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Effective integration of IT systems - how to make it happen?

Today's technology is constantly evolving, which means that the IT infrastructure needs to be continually expanded so that the company can modernise its digital architecture. One of the most common ways to increase productivity and reduce operational costs is IT systems integration. This is the process of combining software and hardware modules into one cohesive infrastructure, enabling all elements to work as a whole - although the systems differ in application, they often use the same data. Unification is carried out when a company wants to merge disparate systems, e.g. to facilitate the exchange of data between them.

What is IT systems integration?
IT integration is about connecting IT systems and achieving synergies by implementing tools that enable different programmes to work together (e.g. using data exports) and virtualising hardware and software solutions. During the process, existing programmes are combined to facilitate the transfer of data - thus making it possible to use the full functionality they have. This allows the potential of existing software to be increased and systems to be optimised. The integration of IT systems also enables a company to significantly improve the quality of its business operations, thereby increasing productivity while reducing operating costs.

Integration process
The integration of IT systems requires comprehensive planning, design and development to ensure that the implementation of changes is as well thought through as possible - here are some steps to follow throughout the process:

  • Clarify the requirements - first it is necessary to define the criteria that the integrated system must meet and the functions to be improved,
  • Conduct a requirements analysis - developers then review the details of the company's requirements to determine which features can be designed and which are better let go - they can also suggest additional options to improve functionality,
  • Design the software infrastructure - once the proposed features are approved, a schedule for implementing the changes is prepared and the developers begin building the system architecture,
  • Integrate the design system - the most labour-intensive part of the work, the success of which consists of properly executed previous steps,
  • Implement the prepared solutions - if the software has been tested for quality assurance and the tests have yielded adequate results, it is ready for implementation,
  • Carry out maintenance work - maintenance is an important element crowning the entire integration process, as routine diagnostics can ensure that errors do not occur when using the system and that new features improve quality.

Methods of integration
There are two types of information systems integration - unilateral and bilateral. The first is a straightforward method, which is usually sufficient because it brings together key elements of the businesses' operations. It will work well when software is used at different stages of work and data does not need to go back to the previous one. Data then only flows in one direction - meaning that one system sends it and the other receives it. Such integration connects key elements of the business and ensures that it runs smoothly. It is also associated with lower costs, which is why it is used especially for complex software in the company. Bilateral integration, on the other hand, involves the complex connection of multiple systems and the interaction of programmes - in which case each of the integrated systems sends and receives data. This type of solution is efficient, offers more functionality and involves more subsystems, providing full communication, but is often significantly more expensive than one-sided integration.

Benefits of integration
Integrated IT systems offer a number of benefits that significantly affect the working environment, resulting in increased productivity. The main advantages include
speeding up work in the company - data from the systems goes to one place, which greatly facilitates the functioning of individual units,

  • easier communication of employees from all departments and locations of the company, as well as smoother cooperation with contractors,
  • easy access to systems - data processing, analyses and reports are located in one place, and analytics is significantly improved,
  • optimisation of business processes and thus lower costs of running the company,
  • higher data quality and consistency, and the possibility for different programmes to use the data at the same time.

The integration enables a single, centralised IT system, based on an improved data collection and retrieval process that ensures security and efficiency.

Before performing IT systems integration in a company, it is necessary to choose the right type of integration according to demand and requirements. It is also necessary to consider the costs to be incurred during the merger, the suitability of the overall solution and the capabilities and features of the current software - this will affect the final unification effect. If done correctly, the integration of systems will bring many benefits in a short period of time and will streamline work in the company. However, the integration of IT systems is not always possible, as not all of them are well suited to it - in such a case, one can opt for the implementation of new software, which will comprehensively cover all of the company's requirements.

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