Integrating software can be an efficient move, augmenting the functionality of the software platforms you use most while simplifying things for your users. For example, you might be interested in integrating your ERP dispatch and maintenance software platforms together, creating a more streamlined experience for your employees.
But is integrating software together always the right move?
The Basics of Software Integration
Software integrations come in many forms, so it’s hard to talk about them as a fungible or universal concept. Depending on the platforms your company currently has, and what your goals are, software integration could mean combining the functionality of two different platforms to make one single platform. It could simply mean feeding information from one platform to another platform, where it can be interpreted or used in a practical way. It could also mean facilitating automation between platforms to streamline efficiency.
The Upsides of Software Integration
There are some clear advantages to integrating software platforms, regardless of what your integration looks like.
Usability and convenience
Business users often appreciate software integrations for their ability to streamline usability and convenience. Instead of jumping between platforms to use different features or dealing with information silos, you can accomplish most of your tasks and responsibilities in one location.
Potential for automation
Business owners love automation because it reduces the number of manual hours their workers need to spend while increasing consistency. With the right software integrations, you can automate more, ultimately increasing productivity (and reducing headaches).
We live in the data age, where most businesses only make decisions when they have sufficient data to push them in an objective direction. For these organizations to survive, they need a steady stream of accurate, reliable information. Software integrations can be the solution, pulling data from many different locations into one, centralized, up-to-date source.
When executed properly, software integrations can improve overall efficiency. Employees have access to more resources and more functionality. Disruptions, inaccuracies, and inconsistencies begin to decline. And while there are some initial costs to planning a software integration, the long-term benefits typically more than compensate for them.
Consistent Experiences for Users
Properly integrated software platforms also lead to more consistent experiences for users. This comes with various sub-benefits, such as higher employee morale, reduced attrition, and higher productivity.
Where Software Integration Can Go Wrong
There are also some general downsides to understand.
Initial and Ongoing Costs
Some software platforms are very integration-friendly, presenting easy integration options for most users. Others require custom coding and major overhauls, greatly increasing costs. No matter what, you’ll need to consider your initial and ongoing expenses before making any software integration decisions. You may be able to boost efficiency and productivity, but is it worth it?
Some integrations are so simple and straightforward that even non-technical people can take care of them in a few clicks. Others are ridiculously complicated, requiring entire teams of engineers. If you run into technical hurdles, it could greatly increase the amount of time and money you need to spend to complete the integration.
Service Disruptions and Inconsistencies
While integrating, you may face certain service disruptions and inconsistencies. These will also apply if you need to do maintenance in the future. Fortunately, these disruptions tend to be minor.
Each software integration is a potential vulnerability. If the integration isn’t done securely, cybercriminals could have an easy time capturing your data streams or even gaining access to your systems.
Software incompatibilities can be also be a problem for your organization, especially if the software platforms you’re integrating are frequently updated. If a new update in one software platform suddenly makes it incompatible with the integrations you’ve designed or facilitated, you’ll have a new technical problem to overcome.
Every Situation is Unique
In this article, we’ve covered some of the generic advantages and disadvantages of integrating software, but because software integrations have so many different variables attached to them, and because every situation is unique, it’s impossible to comment on every conceivable software integration plan. You’ll need to do a deep dive into your proposed software integration before you can make a clear assessment of whether it makes sense for your organization to move forward with it.
That said, it’s clear that software integrations are typically a mixed bag. You need to proceed carefully if you want to reap the most value from your software integrations without hurting your organization. Of course, if you want to build a comprehensive platform from the ground up, a better strategy could be designing and executing your own custom software.
Talk to a team of reliable engineers before making a final decision.