Integrating Org Chart Software with Existing Internal Apps
Business Apps Are Growing, Albeit Slowly
A year ago, an eweek article highlighted some research by IDC. They said that in the year between 2013 and 2014, “the average enterprise with more than 1,000 employees had about 3.5 mobile apps that were used regularly by workers. IDC predicted this number would double, with 7 mobile apps being the norm in 2015. That didn’t happen. Instead, the number only grew to 5.8 apps per user.
Even as the number of mobile apps is increasing, the sticking points keeping them from proliferating seem to be security concerns, data accessibility and the “pain of developing apps across multiple platforms.” Thankfully, we have come a long way since 2015. While security will always be an issue, the cloud, encryption improvements, and validation measures are giving many enterprises a bit more peace of mind. With more systems and data going into the cloud, more data is unlocked from on-premise servers. Data can now be accessed and shared much more easily.
The remaining roadblock is making the development of mobile apps easier. Some companies build these apps based on employee demand for a tool to help them be more productive or efficient in accomplishing a specific task, particularly so they can work more mobile. IT is constantly on the hook to custom build or purchase apps and code integrations with their internal data sources.
Easy Integrations Are Key
Without built-in integrations and APIs, building these apps is a hassle. Making them responsive across mobile devices is a headache. Yet that’s exactly what employees want. Many tasks can be effectively managed on a mobile app. It’s up to the organization and IT to determine which ones make sense, what resources will be required to make it happen, and who can most benefit from the apps.
Since these apps can end up consuming significant resources, organizations must choose to develop apps that will offer the most benefits and will be adopted most readily. The apps must be responsive across devices, easy to use, and pretty to look at. When it comes to apps, appearances are everything. That, and actually making lives easier.
If an employee has to switch back and forth between apps or if they have to plug in their password multiple times, they aren’t going to use the mobile app. Even though these mobile apps are meant to help us work more productively with greater flexibility, if they don’t share data with their internal data source, efforts are duplicated. It can require additional steps to get something accomplished, erasing the benefits of the apps altogether.
Many apps should (and can) be connected to internal systems and other apps so they can share data between them. In this way, the app truly can bring the efficiencies it was designed to do.
Integrations that Make Sense
The truth is, we don’t perform one task in a vacuum. That means each app shouldn’t operate in a vacuum either. Take, for instance, Slack and HipChat. These increasingly popular team communication apps promise to significantly reduce the dependence on email while helping people communicate smarter. While Slack and HipChat may succeed in fostering greater and easier collaboration, they are even greater when they are integrated with other workforce apps, such as org chart software.
If Slack or HipChat is the tool employees use to communicate, share files and track conversations, why ask everyone to change up how they do things simply because you add a new workforce app? Instead, such as with organizational chart software that has a built-in vacation calendar, employees can get a daily summary in Slack or HipChat of who is in and out of the office that day, along with real-time notifications of the day’s activities. Whether the employee is on vacation, traveling, working from home or another office, or at a personal appointment, everyone in the organization can instantly see if a particular person is out of the office or see a listing of all people out, with the specific time frames.
This quick, real-time reference is infinitely helpful for both managers who must plan for backups, as well as employees who can be more productive when they aren’t waiting to hear back from someone they didn’t realize wasn’t going to be in the office that day. Now they can not only see who is out, but they can quickly make other arrangements without delay.
Google Apps is another internal app that would do well to be integrated with workforce apps, such as org chart software. Some companies use this as their employee directory yet they can be clunky and not very user-friendly. Some org chart software includes an open API, making these once challenging integrations simple. Some org chart software is designed to present employee data in a much more visually pleasing way than Google Apps and can directly integrate with Google Apps without the user having to log into a separate account. Users can benefit from the functionality of both on their computers and their mobile devices, giving them the ultimate flexibility.
Single sign-on enables employees to sign into the directory with their Google Apps information as usual and have instant access to the “improved” version. Org chart software enhances the directory experience with much more employee detail than simply name and contact information. Users can see everything from skill sets to current projects and even personal information, such as pets and favorite foods. In this way, the technology not only integrates apps but integrates people as well, connecting them based on similarities so they can more easily collaborate and build relationships. Any new employees added to Google Apps are automatically added to the org chart software, ensuring the org chart is always up to date with the most current employee information.
Simplify the Process with APIs
Some software comes with pre-built app integrations, while other require the use of open APIs. Most companies prefer to avoid custom coding integrations because they can drain resources quickly and add a layer of complexity. Every time there is a software update, these integrations have to be updated as well. The more automated the integrations can be, or at the minimum, require little to no specialized training to set up, the more quickly the app can be used and the faster the company can achieve some ROI.
I found a 2013 State of Data Integration Report that highlighted the real costs of manual or custom coding of system and app integrations. Even nearly four years ago, it was apparent the proliferation of data and data sources was causing major problems for organizations. How much more so is the magnitude of these challenges given the fact that data is only getting to be a bigger, badder beast? The report says,
“IT’s reliance on custom code poses resource constraints that limit companies’ ability to integrate systems fully, and this lack of integration in turn plays a role in the CMO Council’s finding that only four percent of marketers and seven percent of IT executives believe they are prepared to exploit the proliferation of data and channels, many of which will remain siloed. Custom code coupled with manual data entry costs businesses millions of dollars annually but aren’t immediately visible to IT and business leaders. The latest Oracle-commissioned study found that 52 percent of businesses reported missing deadlines due to poor integration across cloud vendors and 75 percent of businesses surveyed blame cloud integration problems for stunting innovation initiatives.”
Integrations clearly matter. The best apps in the world can promise the biggest boosts to productivity and efficiency, but if they can’t be easily integrated with existing internal apps and systems, they can end up costing more than they’re worth.