7 Questions to Ask When Choosing Software Integrations for Your Business
Using advanced software and data to run your business is no longer reserved for high-tech, cutting-edge companies. Every business can -- and should -- use technology and data to better run their operations and systems.
If your business wants to stay competitive, you need a system to collect, manage, organize, and analyze your data. And often, you need more than one software solution to get everything you need.
That’s where software integrations come in.
What Is a Software Integration?
A software integration is the process of connecting two software systems to create one unified system. You use a software integration to combine the features of two separate systems so they work together and share data. Integrations help you get the benefits of two (or more) systems at once.
For example, your business may use a point-of-sale system to process payments and manage orders. You may also use accounting software to manage your expenses and deposits. A software integration would allow you to sync the two systems so they share data and work together.
Software integrations are meant to make your life as a business owner or manager easier. But they can create challenges if you choose the wrong systems or set-ups. To make sure you get the best software integrations for your needs, you need to ask the right questions before you install or set up your system.
Related: Why It's Important to Own Your Business Data and How to Start Collecting It
7 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Software Integration?
If you're considering adding a software integration to an existing system or you are getting ready to revamp your entire business tech, do your research.
Before you add on any new software, spend time talking to providers and asking questions. Here are a few questions to ask to make sure you are getting the right software for your business.
#1) How secure is the integration?
Security in software should always be a top priority. This fact is especially true when you are integrating a new system to an existing system. Adding integrations to an existing system can open the existing system up to security issues. Talk to your new integration partner to discuss password protection, data encryption, data access control, and possible security risks.
#2) How user-friendly is the integration?
As you seek new software integrations, think about the end-user. Your team who is going to use your technology will likely not be software experts. Look for software tools that will be easy for them to learn, understand, and manage. Work with potential partners to review the user interface and also discuss potential errors that users could make and how that would impact your data.
#3) How flexible is the integration?
The point of adding software integrations is that it expands the capabilities of other software. To reap this benefit, flexibility is key. You don’t want to integrate software with limitations that make it difficult for you to sync your data or connect your applications. Talk to your provider about how you can make changes if the software doesn’t fit with your existing tools. And, remember to think about the future. You don’t want to get locked into a tool that you can’t adjust or add to in the future.
Related: How Multi-Location Restaurants Can Use Data to Increase Revenue & Improve Operations
#4) How scalable is the integration?
Another factor to consider for the future when reviewing options for software integrations is scalability. If your business plans to grow, you need technology that can grow with you. Work with your potential technology partner to discuss what growth would look like. Consider the new capabilities you might need as well as the costs associated with expanding the use of the technology.
#5) Can you handle all data formats?
One of the major benefits of using software integrations is that they can sync data from multiple sources. But, integrations can’t do that if they can’t handle different types of data formats. Talk to potential partners about the data formats and how there may be limitations with other types of data formats.
Related: The 12 Pieces of Consumer Data Your Small Business Needs to Monitor
#6) What kind of ongoing support do you offer?
When choosing software integrations, don’t just look for technology. Look for a partner. You are likely going to need support as you bring on the new programs and as you adjust and make changes in the future. Talk to potential partners about what that looks like. Find out if support is included and if not, how much it will cost. Also, set expectations about support availability and time-frames for getting support for potential problems.
#7) What do you think we’re overlooking?
A good software integration partner should help guide you to the best solution for your unique business. They should ask questions about your business to be able to put together a plan for what will or won’t work for your business. They are the experts so ask them about problems they’ve seen with other users similar to you and how they’ve overcome those challenges.
Related: Need Help Making Sense of Your Business Data and Analytics?
Get the Best Data and Technology Systems for Your Business
If you want to keep up with competitors, you need to keep up with their data and technology systems. Always be looking for ways to improve efficiencies and insights through software solutions.
If you need help determining which software solutions and integrations might be right for your business, MyArea Network is here to help. We specialize in helping businesses set up technology solutions and customer data platforms to better run and organize operations and marketing.
Talk to us about how we can help you get the software and systems to better engage local customers. Request your free call with our team today.