August 20, 2014

Get It Together! Consolidate Your Business Systems

consolidate your business systems

As your company grows, you add more processes, software, and people. If you haven’t been proactively streamlining all along, you may be surprised to find that your systems are complicated and redundant.

Consolidating workflow will help your growing business continue to flourish and keep your people working on the important stuff.

How to Consolidate Your Business Systems

Reduce Data Entry Time

If you’re entering the same data in multiple places, you’re wasting your time. Software app integration lets you enter data one time and sync it in other places automatically.

A huge timesaver? Look for customer relationship management (CRM) software that offers app integration with other services, such as email marketing, accounting, and content management. For example, Insightly integrates with Evernote, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, MailChimp, Outlook 2013, Quote Roller, Torpio, and Zapier. Soon, Insightly will also integrate with QuickBooks Online.

Integration allows you to more efficiently manage tasks within your CRM without duplicating work, such as linking project information from Evernote to an organization in your CRM, or creating personalized quotes with CRM information via Quote Roller.

Work in the Cloud

The days of being unable to work on a project because data is stored on a desktop you can’t access are over. Now everyone on your team, your clients and anyone else who needs to collaborate on a project or document, is able to see and use important information from any place via the Internet. Data stored in the cloud is resistant to corruption due to computer glitches because it’s not stored on any one individual’s computer.

Be aware that when some cloud apps have unexpected downtime, it could affect your ability to work. (Was your business affected when Google Drive went down in March?)

If you’re worried about downtime issues, consider combination apps that allow you to work from backup data stored locally, or those that have offline mode. Popular cloud apps for business include Google Apps for Business, Office 365, Box, and RebitPro. In addition, many cloud apps are lower cost alternatives to purchasing a block of software licenses for your company.

Use Just One Calendar

Few things are more frustrating than missing a deadline because someone was checking the wrong calendar. The best way to avoid this is by using just one calendar for everyone and every project.

Choose a calendar that will integrate with the software you use for CRM and project management, plus the mobile devices your team regularly uses. Not only will you be able to sync important project deadlines, but your team can manage their own schedules within the same mobile app while keeping on top of important company deadlines.

Follow the “K.I.S.S. Rule”

Just like you learned in school, Keep It Simple, Silly.

If you want to avoid complicating routine business tasks and creating redundancy in your workflow, always focus on simplicity. The latest technology doesn’t always improve upon what you’ve already got in place. If you are shopping for better business systems, be sure you aren’t duplicating something you already have. This is one place where plugins, apps, and extensions are really helpful.

You can find software, such as CRM or a Web browser, that does one thing really well. Then perhaps add a plugin that automates a process or adds functionality you’ve been managing with a uni-tasking piece of software. That frees you and your team up from one more program and one more process to learn.

If you’ve been neglecting streamlining your business systems, the first time you take a hard look at the options could be a little overwhelming. Once you take the time to find the right apps for the jobs you need automated and eradicate any redundant systems and software, you’ll be empowered to regularly assess your systems, making the upkeep much simpler going forward.

Possibly the best payment for streamlining systems is freeing up your team to work on projects – rather than burning time doing redundant tasks.

10 Comments ▼

Megan Totka


Megan Totka Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce. Chamber specializes in helping SMB's grow their business on the Web while facilitating the connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide. Megan specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources and provides advice through her column on the Chamber blog.

10 Reactions

  1. LanternCRM is another that integrates with all the above services while bringing their activities front and center into the CRM. It is also tightly integrated with GMail and Google Calendar – http://www.lanterncrm.com

  2. I work with my clients using Google Drive. It makes it easier to integrate everything in one place. I also use Dropbox so that I can access the files anywhere.

    • I definitely agree that’s it’s easiest when everything integrates in one place. It’s all about what works best for you and your business.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with your post. After having tried a range of similar CRMs, I’ve settled on Insightly both for myself and my clients. They did a great job with their recent enhancements. I was also very happy to hear about the planned integration with Quickbooks Online. The combination of Google Apps, Insightly, MailChimp and QuickBooks Online is a powerful (and affordable) suite of services that can work well for many small businesses.

  4. I just read this article through Feedly. I am singing up an account with insightly now. It sounds like it can be really helpful. I think I might have to user zappier to integrate my dropbox though.

    • I’m glad that Insightly’s product is something you’re finding helpful. I know it’ll work out for you!

  5. All great advice here. Integration is key, and if you can invest in a platform that has each component built in, you will not suffer from any data loss. Connecting the dots is a huge factor in successfully integrating your sales, marketing and operations. This integration allows your organization to collect data from all touch points right in your CRM. Find a CRM and marketing automation platform, such as GreenRope, that integrates social media, email marketing, contact management, website tracking, event management, calendaring, lead scoring, predictive analytics and more. Having this functionality built into one platform saves time and money since you do not need to invest in a number of third party solutions, and you also avoid having to figure out how to connect them all. Knowledge is power, and this knowledge helps you provide an event better customer experience, while making your internal operations more efficient.

  6. Totally agree that integration is a key criteria for any business software, but before jumping at the first CRM that states it can integrate with the majority of your needed software, you must consider the possible downside.

    Many CRM’s are fairly inflexible and either focus on fantastic API development or back-office flexibility. So, in many cases you have to make a choice – integrate with my online software or with my ERP and back office systems? This isn’t decision you have to make – check out Maximizer CRM for an affordable approach to bespoke CRM.

    Mike Richardson
    Maximizer CRM

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