Integrating Back Office And Online Systems Guide


Implementation checklist for back office and online systems

1. Research & Analyse

Set objectives

Set clear measurable objectives for what you want to achieve.

  • Do you want to make better use of staff time?
  • Increase your capacity for doing business?
  • Improve the accuracy of your data?

Cost/benefit analysis

  • Establish the costs of integrating your back office and online systems, including installation, training and maintenance.
  • Balance these costs against the benefits, such as greater efficiency, reduced costs and improved information management.

Which integration solution?

  • Off-the-shelf software?
  • Bespoke integration?
  • ASP?

Other considerations

  • When looking for software solutions, make sure they support open standards such as XML (extensible mark-up language), which is commonly used by e-tail sites, or EDI (electronic data interchange), which is commonly used by B2B websites.
  • Make sure your solution has the flexibility to deal with moving into new markets (if that’s your aim) – having the ability to price in other currencies, for instance.
  • Think about which sets of data you want back office and web store to share.
  • Think carefully about which web store processes you want your back office to have access to, for example you only need to know the availability of shopping cart items once the customer actually moves to the checkout to pay for them.

2. Consult

Professional advice

If you lack the skills in-house, contact a Business Link adviser (or equivalent if you are in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland), in the first instance, for help on how best to:

  • outline your requirements
  • establish how much you can afford to pay
  • scope the project
  • advise on implementation
  • provide training and software support.

Talk to your trading partners

Do you want your web store to have access to inventory information (useful for showing product availability), to customer histories (to help customers with re-ordering) and to shipping information (so that customers can track their own orders, saving you time and money)?

3. Plan & Test

Evaluate options

  • The more standard the software you choose, the easier it will be to integrate.
    Bespoke software at either end, or in the middle, will require bespoke integration.
  • If you do need ‘middleware’ to connect an existing back office to an existing web store, make sure it is written to open standards.
  • Make sure the systems you adopt are scalable so they can grow with the demands of your business in terms of sales volume – both through e-commerce and conventional channels.

Plan the roll-out phase

  • Look at training implications – what will the cost be?
  • Decide which staff will require training and allow time for them to adjust to the new system.

4. Act

Implement

  • Encourage staff involvement and feedback. This will help smooth implementation, as staff buy-in can make or break a technology project.

Evaluate

  • Monitor and review the impact on your business and against your objectives.
  • Get feedback from staff, customers and suppliers on the changes.
  • Evaluate the impact after 6 months and 1 year. Have you achieved your objectives? Establish how you could improve things further.
Integrating Back Office and Online Systems. Crown Copyright © 2004-2012
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