Managing integrations might be considered an underestimated strategy for achieving successful project outcomes. More often than not, if you are an organisation that provides a service to a client, your primary areas of focus are your people and your proprietary processes. Software integrations are not an exciting part of any project. They are just the oil that helps the cogs turn. But without that oil, project work can become riddled with issues, risks, and delays. In this way, software integrations are essential to project success.
What do we mean by integrations?
Integrations are an assembly of smaller software, databases, and functionalities used by the people and processes working on a project. However, ultimately, we are talking about how data flows through an organisation. Software integration is central to much of the work we do at Proteus when providing a tailored solution for our clients. When building integrations, we look at how various tools handle different data, focusing on the flow of that data throughout the project lifecycle.
“Just as a machine is more than the sum of its parts, so too, are software integrations.”Forbes Tech Council, 2019
Software integrations across various project processes and business structures involve pulling together separate tools, spreadsheets, and systems into one well-coordinated solution. This solution enables teams and leaders to optimize deliverables and avoid becoming tied up in operational knots. The flow of data sits at the heart of this.
Before we get to data, software, and integrations, processes efficiently coordinate people, resources, and information. Process flows are the blueprint for how teams manage each step of the project, clearly explaining how to do what needs to be done. When these project processes are well-designed and well-implemented, they create a solid foundation for a successful project delivery outcome.
But processes, based on whatever PM methodology, cannot operate autonomously: they are always interwoven with each other and the fuller project management system. Often, when an organisation has existing ways of working that are overlaid with legacy software, it can be difficult to step back and untangle the process. Getting this blueprint right is the first critical step in balancing integrations.
Assessing, updating, and integrating various software tools is often not the highest concern for a business leader or even a project manager. Traditionally this remit sits firmly in the wheelhouse of the IT team. And so it should operationally. However, with the pressing demands of digital transformation at the top of many business agendas, increasingly leaders are involved in the selection and onboarding of tools to streamline workflows that drive growth and profit.
To ensure that projects are successful, software needs to be carefully selected and then implemented with full commitment from the whole team. For many consultancies, this needs to start first at the top with unswerving buy-in from the business leaders and then filter down through the team. This software will then help operational efficiency when managing processes and resources throughout the project lifecycle.
However well-considered and streamlined a software may be, how the data is moved from one system to another is what makes or breaks the system. Here software integrations play a key role, allowing organisations to centralise and control the data gathered from various sources. This data flow makes the processes function, bringing in accuracy while eliminating risk. For example, instead of having to manually copy and paste exported Excel data from separate different, unconnected tools, a project engineer can instantly access error-free figures to inform him on progress versus forecast. The overall benefit is hard to quantify as it is not only time that is saved and efficiencies drastically increased, it is also the positive impact on the quality of work. The significant improvements provided by real-time analysis and accurate, predictive project data mean that agreed scopes are met, variations are anticipated and margins are managed. This controlled distribution of information across all stakeholders provides a level of visibility that today’s digitally transformed businesses rely on.
Why do you have to change what you already have? If your company is well-established it is more than likely you have invested heavily in any or all of the following: CRMs, ERPs, HR systems, finance tools, asset databases, document management systems, resource planning tools, task management tools, time tracking tools, and many more specialised systems that support your specific project deliverables. There are, of course, tools that promise to do it all, and many enterprise tools such as Oracle Netsuite, SAP, etc. can deliver on that promise to an extent, at a cost. But 9 times out of ten, the best route is integrations.
So, integrations are great for business. But, of course, it’s not a case of getting one piece of software to cleverly flow data to another, just like that. Integrations differ in size and complexity, and much of the time they are unique. This doesn’t however mean they are not accessible.
APIs (Application Programming Interface) allow data to sync between platforms. They behave like a lock and key, enabling two different software to communicate with each other, pushing data to and fro according to a set of instructions. Often considered ‘no code’ or ‘low code’, APIs allow teams to integrate systems without expert development support. Therefore, taking an API-led approach to integration is the quickest and easiest way to tackle integration. But more often or not, the exact APIs that you need to integrate all the core functions your processes rely on will not be ‘off-the-shelf’. It means you need to consider investing in having specific APIs built. As APIs are reusable, the overall investment is rapidly justifiable.
At Proteus, we have many clients who have existing tools and mega spreadsheets in play. Some just need one tool for all key functions, while others need to integrate with the finance tool, the HR tool, and the CRM. For all of our clients, it is the data flow that is critical. If we can provide that data flow with Proteus interacting seamlessly with existing systems, we will use either our existing APIs or we will build a new integration for a fee.
Xergy Group’s Proteus work management solution is designed to work with your existing systems, and to scale and evolve as your business evolves. It was created by project professionals with decades of experience and delivers an end-to-end project management software platform compliant with ISO audit requirements and common project management frameworks.
How to get Proteus
Proteus’ project management software is a cloud-based system designed for businesses of all sizes to handle projects of unlimited complexity. Each Proteus feature is aimed at making bottom line improvements by improving utilisation, streamlining workflows, providing quick and efficient access to resources and reducing overheads. One of the unique advantages of Proteus is that we offer a free onboarding consultation service to ensure your company account is set up according to your company’s needs.
Proteus operates under a software as a service (SaaS) model costing $35 per user per month. Billing is monthly or annually. For more information on our pricing visit our pricing page or get in touch with one of the team.
We designed Proteus to be simple, and that means you can get up and running on Proteus without an IT team or support from a programmer. You will want to spend a bit of time configuring the admin console so that you have everything set up to suit your company structure, but it’s very intuitive and you don’t need a PhD in IT. However, we want you to get the best out of what is a brilliantly powerful tool, so don’t hesitate to ask for our support. We have a team of product experts who are ready to help you with the configuration process, so get in touch today by filling the form below: