The future of business is digital: mobile apps, the cloud, video-conferencing, CRM programs, virtual reality; there’s so much technology that can help your business improve its customer service, user experience, and productivity, it can even boost your bottom line. But implementing new technology for your business can be difficult. To avoid making a mess of your business’s existing processes by hastily adding a ton of new technology into the mix, you need to have a plan in place. That’s where an integration strategy comes in.

An integration strategy, also known as enterprise application strategy or a digital transformation strategy, is the use of software and computer systems’ architectural principles to integrate a set of enterprise computer applications (Wikipedia). Everything needs to work together, be connected and be integrated with your existing processes as well as with the employees who will be using it on a daily basis.

There are so many benefits to digitally transforming your business but how is it done, how do you know what technologies you should integrate and how can you avoid running into major disruptions? Here’s how to develop an integration strategy for your business.

Choose the right technology to fit your needs.

As new technology is released, you may be excited to try it out, or maybe you’ve found out that your competitor uses this new technology, so you have to have it too. A lot of companies make the mistake of implementing all the hottest new technology, only to find out that it doesn’t work for their business.

So before implementing a bunch of new programs, define your needs and priorities. Consider any inefficiencies in your company and review your current business processes. Next, identify technology gaps and where your current systems fall short. Then consider the capabilities possible technology needs to have to improve those processes and systems that you identified are lacking.

When reviewing potential technologies to implement in your company, keep a checklist nearby so you can tick off how that program meets the requirements and what it’s missing. This will help you easily decide what software is right for your needs and avoid wasting money on solutions that won’t work.

Create a timeline for integration.

One of the most common mistakes companies make when implementing new technology is to attempt to integrate all the programs and systems at the same time. Transforming your business digitally takes time and resources, both monetary and human. Integrating new technology should be done in stages, so you don’t overwhelm yourself or your company, this will also ensure that your integration strategy is completed as smoothly as possible.

Your integration strategy should have realistic schedule and timeline for each project or new technology, and it should be based on what’s a priority for your company, for instance, what technology is most important to implement to move ahead successfully. You should also consider the length of time you estimate it will take to integrate each component. A detailed timeline for integration will help your company stay on track and keep up with the competition.

Put a plan in place for your team.

Learning to navigate new technology can be difficult for a lot of people, especially for your employees who already have so much to do in a day. Not being able to solve an issue, or complete their task because they don’t know how to use a new program can really interrupt their workflow, which will affect your entire business. This is why your integration strategy should include a plan for how you’ll train your employees to use your new technology.

You should have step-by-by processes in place for how to teach your employees everything they need to know about your new programs and how they will transition into this new phase of your business. You should also consider any maintenance plans or support that is offered by the vendor and research if it’s possible for a representative to visit your office or hold a webinar for your team. When you put a support plan in place for your team, and they’re aware of where they can turn to if a problem arises, your integration will be much more successful.

In conclusion.

An effective integration strategy will help your business avoid everything from hiccups to complete meltdowns during this important company transition. So don’t be afraid to embrace new technology when you successfully complete your integration strategy, your business will be reaping the benefits — from improved workflow to increased profits.