Home > Articles > Software development > What is Software Integration – And What Can it do For You?

What is Software Integration – And What Can it do For You?


No software solution is an island. 

Today, there’s an application for everything. From word processing to timesheets to task tracking to ERP, CRM, marketing automation, BOMs…you name it, there is a software solution to make your life at work easier, and your job more productive. 

Where businesses often find themselves at a disadvantage, however, is in making sure all these applications are able to communicate with each other. That data inputted on a BOM is correctly updated in your shop floor’s internal inventory tracker, and that that tracker triggers orders to be placed for any raw materials you might be running low on. Even if all of these steps are digitised individually, it may still require manual input to move data downstream through this process. 

There is where software integration steps in. 

What is Software Integration? 

Each piece of software, ordinarily, operates in isolation. Data from one can be manually lifted and inputted into another, but this requires somebody to take time out of their day to do it themselves. 

Software integration automates this process, and allows data to flow freely between siloed applications without the need for manual input. 

If every individual software application maintained by your business can be considered a standalone city, then software integration is what builds the highways connecting the cities, allowing traffic – data – to flow freely between them. 

Now, your digital timesheet employees use to punch in and out of work might pull from activity logs on the internal office chat system, to determine exact check-in and –out times without needing input from employees, who are prone to forget or make mistakes. As outlined in our intro, any BOM submitted to the system could now automatically update your internal stock trackers, which in turn can place automated orders for materials that are running low, while real-time prices for those materials are fed into invoicing so that your consultants in the field can offer up-to-date cost estimates that accurately reflect your business overheads. 

Software integration, in short, is how you get your software behaving much like you’d want your employees to behave – communicating and all pulling in the same direction as a team. 


What Does Software Integration do for Your Business? 

More broadly, what is the added value that software integration can provide for your business? 

Pulling from the examples above, and expanding into others, this includes: 

Knowledge Integration – By allowing your databases to communicate with each other, you achieve two things right off the bat. You cut down on wasted time on data entry and re-entry across multiple siloed systems; and you ensure that that data being shared between applications is reliable, accurate and up-to-date. You also make it readily available to anybody within your organisation who needs it, without preamble. 

Cost-Savings on Digital Transformation – One massive up-front benefit of integrating existing systems over a ground-up overhaul and new system implementation is the cost. Rather than pay up front for an entirely new ERP to pull together your existing systems and processes, by integrating the software you already work with you save yourself the cost of implementing all new software – after all, you’ve already paid for what you’re using now. Why not get the most out of it? This also has the added benefit of not requiring retraining time to bring staff up to speed on all-new applications. 

Real-Time Business Intelligence – With all your systems now talking to one another, this opens up all-new vistas of information gathering that equip you with the intelligence necessary to make strategic decisions. Pulling data from multiple strands of your business at once and collating them in a single dashboard gives you oversight over your operations like never before. 

Streamline Existing Processes – Integrating disparate software applications means speeding up the processes that rely on those applications. That means less time spent on repetitive clerical admin that adds no real value and more time spent being productive. It frees up your team and makes life easier both for your staff and for your customers. What’s not to love? 


Best Practices for Software Integration 

How can you ensure that you’re getting the most out of your organisation’s software integration project? 

You want a comprehensive system that fits to your business’ unique needs, and you want it to be implemented as painlessly as possible, to avoid costly downtime or confusion among team members once the dust is settled and the consultants have packed up and left. 

Though you’re most likely going to be leaving the integration process itself in the hands of the experts, the process is no different to any other transformative procedure in business operations, and much of the same rules apply: 

Define Your Objective – What do you actually want to achieve? Software integration sounds great on paper but if you don’t have a clear outcome in mind, you run the risk of being met with mixed results. Clearly state the outcome you hope to achieve, both internally and then to the consultants you bring on board to outline the procedure. 

Choose the Right Tools for the Job – Knowing what you want to achieve is the first step; but knowing how to achieve it is another story. This may very well come down to the conversation you have with the consultants you bring on board to midwife your software integration into being. But understanding what you’re getting, and making sure it fits the needs of your business and is well-documented should your staff run into any problems after implementation, will offer you peace of mind once all is said and done. 

Map Out the Processes to be Integrated – Even if you have a broad idea of what you’re hoping to get out of an integration, you need to make sure you have a thorough understanding of the workflows and processes you are going to be tinkering with before you start to change anything. Map out the entire system, with all stakeholders, users, information and action flows labelled so that you have a full bird’s eye view of proceedings. This will help you quickly identify unforeseen overlaps or shortcomings before you’re already midway through the integration process. 

Define Project Ownership – This applies both at the top level – who takes overall responsibility for the integration – and in more granular detail; who has oversight over the various flows and processes to be integrated. One crucial part of this, too, concerns data ownership: as data flows as digitised and integrate, assign team members to take stock of data retention and security, to ensure nothing is lost or accidentally leaked during the process. 

Monitor – With your plan solidly in place, there’s nothing left to do but monitor the integration as it gets underway, to ensure that everything is progressing to your specific needs. Taking an active interest in the development of your software integration means you can spot anything that goes awry before it becomes baked into the new system, or make changes in real-time as your business’ shifting needs realign themselves. 



back to top