Integration Myth, Plug & Play

In this article, we define integration and why it’s more complicated than software sales reps might lead you to believe.

In our many years of working with customers, we’re frequently asked about system integration. We would like to share with you our experience in providing a large number of integrations.

The next time you’re asking a software rep if their software package will integrate with the other programs you use, be aware of this myth: “Yes, we integrate; it’s plug and play.”


The Truth about System Integration

The software industry is an extremely specialized industry now. There are many software companies all specializing in their own niche. As a result, a company’s overall landscape of digital tools is multifaceted.

It is commonplace that many isolated software programs are supporting many different functionalities within an organization. That is, in this digital age, many software packages are used, which collect and store different datasets. These software packages are bought from multiple specialized software companies, at different times, for different reasons, to do different jobs.

For instance, businesses of today are utilizing one software for accounting, one for shipping, one for human resource, one for customer relationship management, and so on.

An organization’s newly adopted pieces of technologies must merge with the technologies they already employ. Everything should have the capability of working together.

The basic definition of system integration:

System integration means that all of your software is able to interweave into one large path of communication in a way that helps and compliments the different systems. This allows users maximum operating insight. This means that the data on one application can be transferred to and synced with your other applications.

When data can be freely exchanged between an organization’s adopted programs, data entry is astronomically easier and faster. One immediate benefit is that employees are not inputting the same data two or three times in order to use the data for two or three purposes.

Asking about integration:

The buyer is generally smart enough to inquire about system integration while they are shopping for new software. In sales calls and presentations to prospective customers, Flowtrac is frequently asked about integration. The question is basically this–
Do you integrate? 

We love this question!

Flowtrac appreciates this question because it’s the perfect segue into learning more about your existing software and the integration needs you require.
Unfortunately, over the years we have noticed that other software reps want to close the deal and get their commission, so they simply answer, “YES, we integrate; it’s plug and play.” 
However, please be advised, the rep hasn’t really told you ANYTHING yet.

Why “plug and play” is a myth

Does most contemporary software “talk” to other software? In a sense, yes. Absolutely. Most of the time, systems can be connected. But that’s not the whole answer. Just because it integrates through a predetermined method does not mean it will be your company’s desired blend of data.

There’s more to it. The data set cannot morph into a desired configuration while on its way from one system to another. The deeper levels of system integration are not automatic. It has to be told what do to, or one program’s data could mismatch the data fields in the application it transfers into. For the answer to this, a prospective software company needs more information.

In short, the simple “Yes” is suspect.  

Integration methods and approaches are effected by the details of the data you have, the data you want, the data you need to integrate, and the way you want it to integrate.

Any software rep that tells you they will integrate without asking for more details could be misleading you with the classic “plug and play” myth. In their defense, perhaps the rep just doesn’t understand integration. We have pre-sales integration consultants on staff.
Not pursuing the details of integration could turn buyers into dissatisfied customers in the long run. After the sale, they could find out that the supposed “integration” with Amazon, Quickbooks, Salesforce, or other programs, does not handle the transfer completely:

  • the right data 
  • the right way
  • to the right location 
  • at the right times

Example: 
When an order is received from ecommerce software, the order must integrate with the inventory system, and when the inventory is shipped, that data should flow to the accounting system. All of the data can integrate, but you don’t want all the inventory data pushed into your accounting system, necessarily. Your accounting system most likely doesn’t require or support detailed inventory information such as specific bin locations, lot numbers, item categories, etc.

The best process for system integration
Flowtrac’s sales rep will request more information to learn these integration details:

How do you want our system to integrate? In what way, how deep, and how many different ways?

Before getting back with you, after a thorough discussion if necessary, we will consult with our pre-sales development team to verify the functionality exists. Then, and only then, we give you your answer. We believe this process should be the industry standard as it is our standard.

If you want all your systems to talk, precisely the way you want them to talk, then talk to us.

Contact us today.