is to bring together as a whole; fit together; unify; or to make
whole or complete by the addition of necessary parts. Our quest for
excellence must involve integration of the many diverse (and often
divergent) elements of our organization as well as our supply chain
and our channels of distribution. Sharing ideas, concerns, plans and
status among these entities can and will improve our effectiveness
and the timeliness in meeting our real objectives.
Gregoire and Patrick Delaney  suggest that a company must grow
beyond a functional strategy (the individual departments develop
their own plans independent of each other) to an integrated strategy
(the company cross-functionally develops and executes a broad-based
business strategy). In the functional approach, the departments
operate in a vacuum toward their independent goals, not as a
cohesive entity. They fail to recognize the implications of their
actions on each other and require considerable management
coordination. The integrated approach requires much less
coordination and is well synchronized to attain competitive
advantage in the marketplace.
successfully implemented employee involvement programs supporting
their JIT/TQC efforts by integrating all of their involvement/people
systems programs. Donna Neusch  relates their approach which
included training, certification, compensation, and performance
appraisal programs under this integrated umbrella.
growth of information systems that integrate business functions and
support new business opportunities is reported by Ernest von Simson
. He references several companies that have extended this
integration beyond internal linkage of functions to include direct
information linkage with customers and suppliers. By so doing, they
"made the process of doing business with the company a reason
to do business with it."
Ling and George Palmatier  maintain that an effective demand
management system integrates the sales, marketing and manufacturing
functions and executive management in a unified effort. Their
experience shows that this process is inhibited by poor
communication systems within most companies. There is a need for
planning systems to overcome departmentalization, lack of
understanding, and lack of adequate communication.
Martin  amplifies this view by extending the principle to the
entire organization, proposing that comprehensive information
systems be developed to flow information throughout the company. The
key is to understand how the entire enterprise moves and uses
information, then support it. Process/product movement and
information flow must be tied together seamlessly. Information
provides competitive advantage when provided when and as needed.
approach to integration is recommended by David Nelson : a
"mix of art and science" that starts with development of a
list of critical issues to be addressed by a unifying strategy.
Customer expectations, current capabilities/deficiencies,
competitive situation, status of internal operations, and vendor
environment should be evaluated. Then an all-encompassing strategy
can be developed to integrate all company physical resources and
functional activities. Nelson notes that becoming integrated
is only the start. Staying integrated is often as difficult as
getting there. The integrative strategy (and all its elements)
should be reviewed and updated at least yearly. Doing so should
remind us why we are in business in the first place.
"make-and-sell" business is a system for designing,
producing, and delivering goods to customers according to Graham
Sharman . He proposes that logistics, covering the total range
of activities concerned with the movement of materials (including
information and control systems), is a unifying medium for all the
traditional functions involved in the system. He states that
"it is impossible to manage logistics effectively unless its
integrative nature is taken seriously."
interesting analogy for the integrated environment we are trying to
create is suggested by Kiyoshi Suzaki : a symphony orchestra.
Each musician has unique, well-developed skills; each instrument has
its own sound. Only when these different elements are coordinated
into a unified performance does the orchestra achieve World-Class
performance. Then it performs with beautiful harmony, tone, and
the ideal for a manufacturing organization: All elements should fit
together. Each player should understand his/her role and perform it
with appropriate consideration for the whole organization, sharing
its overall goals and following the "score." As more
people understand their role in the overall context and work
together with others to achieve the shared objective, the
organization will become effectively integrated and will be capable
of responding well to change, with an eye to improving itself.