5 Things Shippers Should Know Before Starting an Integration Project

Embarking on an integration implementation can be daunting, especially when you have deadlines to meet and real problems to solve. Between data management and overseeing the project itself, you have a lot to manage and more to fix if you don’t start out with the best foundation. Here are the five things you need to know before starting an integration project

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1. Identify the "Mission": What's the Goal?

Whether you’re looking ahead and are proactively updating your business processes or have a specific problem you need solved, the first step to any integration project is identifying the business goal.

Before starting any systems conversations, make sure you can articulate who you are helping by doing the integration and what benefit it is going to bring.

That being said, software integrations are customizable by design. The most common integrations are:

  • Connecting existing software programs in your internal systems
  • Connecting your internal systems to other SaaS platforms
  • Connecting to your customers’ legacy systems

Once you’ve identified your goals, put a plan in place to achieve them. Partner with a supply chain integration specialist like Chain.io (rather than a generic iPaaS provider) that works with your internal teams to ensure a seamless and efficient implementation.

Compass pointing to the word "mission"

2. Freight Digitization Isn't "One Size Fits All"

Your goals are unique to your business, and the solutions you implement should be as well. Out-of-the-box solutions don’t fully address the complexities of your business and, in turn, leave gaps in your system.

Once you've established your business goals, you should then look at industry best practices and tweak them to fit your company. For example, you might receive orders from your customers but handle them very differently depending on whether you're focusing on end-to-end PO management or using them to initiate freight bookings.

Create a fully customized solution using Chain.io’s microservice architecture for a fully connected supply chain network.

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3. Reduce Costs Where You Can

There’s no doubt that integration projects can be costly, and most of that cost comes from customization. Partner with an integration sp

ecialist like Chain.io that understands and advocates for the most cost-effective solutions to maximize your budget without sacrificing quality of service.

Leveraging out-of-the-box connections lets you build on top of the knowledge and hard work of the entire industry instead of building everything from the ground up.

Graph with costs going down due to data integration

4. Eliminate Internal Pushback by Aligning Your Goals With Your Team

A huge obstacle that most business leaders fail to prioritize is the end-user experience. Your internal team is the most informative resource you have when planning your project.

Connect with your internal team to understand their goals and what their experiences are on a day-to-day basis. Reduce pushback by aligning their goals and feedback with the plan you relay to an integration team. Chain.io works with your IT, sales, and management teams to ensure an easy and adaptable solution that all users are happy with.

Most importantly, engage operations. Business leaders and IT teams are great at building fancy solutions, but they'll fall apart if your desk-level users decide to work "around" the process once it's implemented.

5. Have Your Data in Order to Avoid Lag Time

“Dirty” - unorganized, cluttered, unstructured - data is dangerous when operating a business, but also detrimental to the success of an integration project. Ensuring your data is in order before you begin an integration implementation is crucial.

Digitization, if done strategically, can propel your business forward and “future-proof” your operations. Ensure a successful integration implementation with a partner like Chain.io that meets you where you are, manages every step of the process, and works closely with your internal teams.

Chain.io helps shippers connect with logistics service providers and trading partners across the global supply chain. We can help you integrate faster, reducing friction, finding capacity, and improving freight visibility.

If you'd be interested in a short conversation about how we can help, we'd love to chat.

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written on February 2, 2022
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