The Value of Integration

By John Papaevgeniou, Founder and CEO of Relational

An integrated software solution can help businesses raise productivity, reduce training time, and increase opportunities for improvement. It is possible to work with a variety of different tools and systems, often at a lower upfront cost. Some experienced financial professionals can use free spreadsheet software to do everything from collections to running regressions. Such employees are rare, and using numerous tools requires an enormous amount of their valuable time. An integrated software solution is a much better option for firms with more extensive operations.

Boosting Productivity

The first and most immediate benefit of an integrated solution is higher employee productivity. When firms use a variety of different software packages, employees must manually transfer data between them. This may require buying and using expensive batch conversion software, or it might be as simple as cutting and pasting information. While cutting and pasting is a straightforward approach, it is also costly. According to Deloitte, average IT spending was only 7.16% of revenue in the banking industry and 3.28% for all firms. On the other hand, employee compensation usually consumes between 25% and 75% of revenue. Almost anything that firms can do to boost employee productivity is a cost-effective way to reduce expenses.

Faster Training

An integrated software solution can also reduce training time, which is vital in large-scale collection operations because of high employee turnover. The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that firms with over 250 employees experienced collector turnover rates between 75% and 100%. The study also revealed that most collectors required two to four weeks of training. As firms expand, collector turnover and training become significant issues. An integrated solution will always be much better documented, so employees can learn a substantial amount without assistance. Furthermore, software designed for a specific purpose is inherently easier to use for that purpose. There is no need to explain how to create spreadsheets for tracking cases when tracking is built into the software.

Reducing IT Costs

An integrated software solution not only saves time for end users, it also saves time for IT staff. Maintaining an assortment of free or inexpensive programs imposes significant burdens on support staff. Applications must be upgraded and patched individually. In some cases, an upgrade to one program will even cause it to stop working properly with the others. The IT department will then have to make extraordinary efforts to come up with a workaround. Even within IT, labor costs can be substantial compared to spending on hardware and software. According to a 2013 Gartner study, hardware and software accounted for only 21% of the total cost of a business desktop. End-user wages were responsible for 67% of expenses, and IT labor was a significant 10%. Computer hardware has become less expensive since 2013. End-user and IT labor are probably a larger part of the total cost of ownership in 2019.

Continuing to Improve

Finally, an integrated solution also gives firms the ability to improve. Integrated applications allow firms to obtain a better picture of current operations. That is the first step to eliminating bottlenecks and identifying best practices that should be used by all employees. Software that streamlines procedures, such as Relational's i-Apply and AroTRON, also frees up IT staff time to develop new and better solutions. Integrated software provides businesses with the critical time they need to improve and innovate.

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