In today’s business environment the average company utilizes many different software applications. Some may be off-the-shelf, and others may be custom developed in-house or by contracted firms. While the exact number of distinct software products varies from company to company the average is around 254 separate applications with small enterprises averaging 22 custom applications alone. Not all of these applications are capable of communicating with each other out of the box. In many cases custom software (or workflow) integrations need to be built to allow companies to function according to their customized business needs. In some cases when a software product is built, developers will include an API to allow data to be exchanged, but even in this case, the product may not be able to do this without a custom integration to process the data exchange. In this blog post, we will go through some examples of when a custom integration would be needed or preferable.
There are many situations when you might need to connect to software that doesn’t already have a built-in or “native” integration. This can happen when your company is using a legacy system, or when you decide to use a third-party software product that doesn’t have an integration that works within your specific business needs. In these cases, you would need to go with a custom software integration. When you are connecting two systems, both need to agree how the connection will be established and how data will be exchanged. If either one of the systems cannot communicate with the other, a custom integration may need to be built. There are different ways to accomplish this, depending on the type of software you are connecting. You can opt for a web service, an API or an automatic file transfer to name a few, again depending on the requirements of the software being integrated.
Sometimes when choosing the right business software for your business needs, the best solutions won’t be able to communicate between themselves to meet the needs of your workflow as discussed above. While you could manually enter the data, this leaves the door open to human error and repetitive data entry on a large scale is not only boring, but also very slow. For instance, say you have an HR platform that runs your company timeclock, but it can’t communicate with your accounting platform. Unless the two platforms include a native integration put there by the software publisher, this means your accounting department will need to enter payroll figures from the HR platform into say QuickBooks – line by line. A custom integration resolves this issue by building the communication channel for the HR platform to export its data to QuickBooks and QuickBooks to import that data in just a few seconds without any human error caused by the transfer.
Depending on your business and workflow needs, you may need more (or less) functionality than a native integration provides. With a native integration, you will be limited to the functionality of that integration possibly exchanging either too much or too little data, possibly lacking custom field mapping, and formatting you would get with a custom integration. With a custom integration, you can not only choose exactly what data will be exchanged and how, but also when. With a native integration, the timing is set to the cadence of the app. With a custom integration, you can set the timing to meet the needs of your business or even impose a manual trigger before the synchronization occurs.
When you are connecting software used by customers or employees, you want to ensure the integration is seamless. You might want to connect your customer relationship management (CRM) software to your help desk software, or your purchasing software to your procurement software. For these integrations, you will want to go with a custom solution. It gives you more flexibility to create a seamless user experience when connecting both systems. You can make it seamless for your users by choosing the data fields that are most relevant for the two systems to exchange. When you use a native integration, you are limited to the fields that are baked into that integration or possibly a selection of data fields. The native integration may exchange too much or too little data and may not offer much in the way of customizing this. As we will learn later in this post, sometimes it is not in the best interest of the software publisher to allow you to exchange every data field – even in a native integration. With a custom integration, your users see exactly what they need to and nothing else.
Every business these days is concerned with cybersecurity and privacy. You might have concerns about data management when using an off-the-shelf solution. This can happen when you are connecting data between sensitive systems. Data can be sensitive when it includes details such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and other information that needs to be protected. For example, you might want to connect your accounting software to your customer relationship management (CRM) software to import customer data from the accounting software.
The CRM doesn’t have an integration that works with accounting software since it’s not designed to import this data. Some software publishers may not include this feature out of concern for their own liability, but it may also prevent you from doing business even with the required regulatory and technical safeguards in place. You can create a custom integration to handle this type of sensitive data exchange safely and securely. Other software publishers may not include a native integration to try to lock you into using another software product they offer, instead of the one that is best for your business. Again, a custom integration can let you escape this product “lock in” and choose the tool that is best for your business needs
One of the most exciting and rapidly growing industries is business-to-business (B2B) software as a service (SaaS). With the continued adoption of new technology to streamline and simplify business operations, there is no doubt that the space will continue seeing exponential growth in the space. B2B SaaS is an abbreviation for business-to-business Software-as-a-Service. It includes cloud-based software used by businesses for accounting, office productivity, customer relationship management (CRM), and other work-related activities. Companies frequently subscribe to B2B SaaS solutions and pay on a monthly or yearly basis. SaaS marketing is a type of marketing that specifically helps build awareness and promote software as a service product. SaaS marketing helps to bring a product to a market, position a product, and build awareness around a SaaS organization.
When deciding whether or not a custom software integration is right for your business it’s important to take various factors into consideration, such as functionality, ease of use and data management concerns. A custom integration gives you the most flexibility to choose exactly what software you want for your business without needing to modify your workflow due to a lack of native integration. When choosing a custom integration, it’s important to make sure it’s built by a reliable software development company that can meet your needs and complete the project on time. The talented folks at Zetaton have decades of combined experience helping companies just like yours build custom integrations between many different types of software, both on-premise and “in the cloud” for many different types of businesses. As Zetaton has been recognized as one of the Top Web Development Companies in Wisconsin, and as one of the Top Web Design Companies in Wisconsin by DesignRush. So Regardless of what solution you decide on, native or custom what is most important is that your business be able to operate according to your specific business needs. If your software can’t do this natively, a custom software integration may be the best solution.