Are you from those manufacturers who use multiple software systems to manage your front and back office processes? Keeping your systems like ERP, CRM, HRM, SRM, and alike separated leads to information silos and gaps in processes.
Luckily, there’s a better way to run your enterprise – Software Integration!
Integration helps your teams to synchronise disparate data sources and have uniform metrics. It streamlines operations to maximise the value of multiple platforms and saves time by reducing the amount of manual work. For instance, a 4h of work of an employee who had to copy data between 2 programs every day can be automated into a 20s process with integration (we’ve done this for one of our clients).
Yet, several factors can impact the process of integration which sometimes makes it a complex task, requiring an experienced software integrator to perform it. Many businesses are unaware of what system integration is and why their business needs it.
To better understand the term’s definition, when you need to connect your software, and the reasons you should hire a software integrator, we’ve created this guide for you.
But first, let’s align with the basics.
What is integration?
The term integration refers to the process of bringing together different, often disparate, subsystems (smaller components) into a single system so they can function as one. It’s the end result of a process that streamlines the data of each subsystem into a larger, more comprehensive system for the free flow of data/information delivery, when needed. Integration is harder to achieve when companies use several systems. So, they often choose external contractors who can manage the IT system integration without hampering the company’s software architecture.
What is software integration?
Software integration is the practice of unifying two or more separate software solutions together to save time and labour. The level of integration depends on the components, complexity, and size of the systems to result in a seamless connection of multiple programs/modules into one database. When done skillfully, software integration delivers a tremendous benefit to the organisation in terms of increased efficiency.
Example of Software Integration
When your business expands, executive teams may need multiple software solutions to automate tasks and enhance management. For instance, if a footwear company’s consumer base is expanding, owners will implement inventory management and order optimisation software to effectively meet the rising demand.
Oftentimes companies need to transition to a new cloud-based app from a legacy system, so they will integrate their on-premise legacy system with a cloud platform.
Another use case would be integrating Slack and Zoom. If you want to host a zoom meeting, all you need to do (if connected) is to type /zoom into the chat. It’ll respond with a button to click to join the call.
You can also integrate project management software with HRM to evaluate employee performance and create appraisals/incentives based on performance. There are thousands of such examples.
Integrated software vs standalone
Integrated software is a collection of software packaged in a single suit to enhance data sharing and information flow. Businesses can easily add more modules to an integrated system without hampering the current processes. Whereas, standalone software can work on its own and doesn’t require other software/processes to run. They’re installed on a local system to limit access. However, integrated software is typically hosted on a cloud platform for better access of information from any device without requiring format conversions.
Software integration vs system integration
There’s a fine line between system integration and software integration. System integration is the process of connecting all physical components (machine systems, computer hardware, and inventories) and digital components( databases, software, and applications) to behave as a single system.
The software integration process includes merging whole programs, subroutines, and software modules with other software components to build new applications or enhance the functionality of existing ones. Software integration requires an extensive source code change as compared to system integration.
When do you need Software integration?
The need for software integration arises in the following cases:
1. Merging different systems – When an organisation needs to exhibit a particular functionality of a business need. The integration will be implemented to unify several disparate system functionalities to fulfil a particular business need.
2. Integrating legacy systems with modern applications – To stay competitive in the digital transformation age, companies need to migrate from legacy systems to modern applications. The integration will be done to ensure smooth and secure migration.
3. When a business needs multi-functionality – Consider the case of the HR automation process. For example, if a business has an HR management system for payroll management and other HR software has employee attendance functionality with a biometric system developed in Java. The integration will be done so that the attendance system and payroll module seamlessly talk to each other.
How to identify the need for software integration solutions?
If you find yourself asking the following questions, your team needs software integration solutions.
- Does my CRM integrate with sales data so that my salespeople can have inventory information?
- How can I log calls as they come in?
- Is there any way I can get data to make decisions about staffing needs?
- My current integrated system is very slow with more downtime. Can I enhance it and make it more secure?
- Is there any way my employees enter data into a single system for multiple projects/processes?
- Can all of my team access information in one system anywhere in real time?
- I have a complex business domain and I need to simplify things. Complex businesses like Finance, banking, insurance, Healthcare, Retail, Telecom, and Travel, need integration more than simple businesses like education.
What type of software needs to be integrated?
Many businesses typically use in-house software, or cloud-based applications on a subscription basis to meet their operational needs. Following are some examples of the systems that can be integrated.
- Inventory management software
- Inventory ordering optimization
- Employee management software
- Employee scheduling software
- Project management software
- Online document signing solutions
- Virtual conference calling solutions
- Point-of-sale systems
- Reporting and analytics tools
- Collection and billing software
Benefits of software integration
Here are some advantages of software integration.
- Productivity increases. When data is accessible in real-time, employees can make informed decisions faster, sales reps reach out to prospects quickly, marketers can add successful leads to the lists, and invoices can be delivered on time.
- Enhanced employee and client experiences. Employees can easily move between applications to find information and save time which they can reallocate to deliver a better client and customer experience.
- The functionality of your applications amplifies.
- Faster decision-making. Since your data is no longer scattered across siloed storages, you can easily use analytics to extract useful insights and make decisions more rapidly.
- Cost-effectiveness. System integration often costs less than replacing all disjointed parts with a new single system.
Do I really need a software integrator?
Yes, of course! You may have the best integration tools, but without human expertise, it won’t bring you much value. A system Integrator is an individual or company that has all the required resources and experience that your internal team might lack. This person/company helps clients bridge scattered computer subsystems from different vendors and ensures they work in accordance with one another. System integrators perform different tasks including planning, regulating, testing, and maintaining computer operations to meet a company’s needs.
If you’re still vacillating between software integration and system integration, let us help. AvoTechs has a team of experts to help you identify which route is best for your business as per its needs. Or if you require more knowledge on the software integration and its implementation issues, speak to us for a FREE consultation.