In the age of “there’s an app for that”, most software manufacturers proclaim their product’s ease of software integration. But what does that mean? In short, it means one software program shares its data with other programs.
Now, does software integration matter to you? Don’t get caught up in the hype. Think about how YOU and YOUR BUSINESS will benefit by integration. Does this save time in your workflow and help keep your data consistent or does it create new problems?
Before running off to check which of your software programs will integrate with others that you are using, a few things need to be considered:
1. Not every program integrates with every other program out there. If integration between products is something you feel will benefit your business, keep compatibility in mind when choosing software solutions.
For example, you have contact relationship management (CRM) software (Highrise, CapsuleCRM) that you use to track sales leads. What happens when one sales lead becomes a customer who just placed an order? Wouldn’t it be nice if information for that new customer (no longer just
a sales lead) would automatically go into your accounting software to create an invoice? That’s where integration comes in.
2. Not all integrations are well written. Sorry, but it is a fact. Realize whether the integration is in beta testing and also look for reviews on how well the integration works. Some can cause errors and a lot of inconvenience on your part.
3. Know what data is shareable and how often. This could be minutes, hours, or daily and can impact your workflow.
4. Understand which direction the data is shared and whether it’s a one-way or two-way operation. This will impact which program you enter updates into first.
Continuing our example above, if the CRM can send data to your accounting software but cannot receive it, you now know all changes to customer data must be entered into the CRM first, because the CRM will share the information with your accounting software.
Software integration can be a great timesaver. Do your homework and learn the facts before setting one up.