What is Software Integration? Detailed Guide 
In the article, you’ll go over the software integration as an effective solution to data management and automation of your business processes, and more importantly, you’ll discover how it helps your organization stay ahead of the competitors. We’ll start from the term definition, its types, and functions, diving deep into the topic with examples and cases.
Software integration in most cases is a forced measure aimed at improving the efficiency of the company’s information systems. If to not integrate the business processes/applications with each other, you are spending significant time and resources on data transfer, aggregation, and analysis of information for making complex decisions.
To illustrate, let’s consider for a while how the company’s business applications and systems are designed to support the work of various departments. They can include accounting, HR, sales, production management, warehouse, etc. Many of them are initially focused on obtaining information from other databases (for example, consolidated and corporate reporting, management, and monitoring systems). Thus, no corporate software can be considered as something stand-alone but is always part of a large mechanism. In turn, integration of the company’s software allows you to organize well-coordinated work with data at all levels, to avoid their loss and inconsistency.
- What is software integration?
- Why is software integration necessary?
- What type of software needs to be integrated?
- Which type of data requires integration?
- What integration tool does the business need?
- Popular types of software integration?
- Software integration process: 5 main steps.
- Cases where software integration can help your company.
What is software integration?
Software integration is the exchange of data between systems with possible subsequent processing. Often, large companies need to integrate several software systems and products for data exchange and processing. The point is quite simple: the data that the user enters into one system is automatically transferred to another.
There are two options of integration – web, and data. Web integration is the consolidation of web applications and systems into one web-based unit. Data integration is the combination of data from various sources and further providing it in a unified form for the user.
Why is software integration necessary?
The reasons for software integration depend on the IT solutions in the company and the tasks that the business faces. Let’s look at three major why-to-integrate arguments.
Merging different systems
The data in companies is accumulated across numerous applications, systems and desktop databases. To use distributed data effectively, the business needs to solve the issues of collecting, synchronizing, and using relevant information across the enterprise. First, it is for ensuring data quality, data management, and timely delivery of information to the consumer.
Software integration allows the enterprise to do business in real-time; possess reliable and complete information. It provides efficient and secure data exchange between different systems and applications within one organization that were not originally intended for collaboration.
Integrating legacy systems with new-age applications
Not a new thing saying, but legacy systems are usual for work and use within the company. But our reality is fluid and over time. Any conceptual idyll is violated in the course of business development, or the introduction of new systems, changes in software platforms, and even legislation.
The talk about the introduction of new-age applications now comes not because it’s a trend, but because the existing legacy systems are no longer able to satisfy the business needs. To make the company grow, ensure data security, and eventually, reducing money on operational costs, such outdated systems should be integrated with new solutions.
Need for multi-functionality
Business requirements always outpace the capabilities of information technology. So it is extremely important to use the new areas of activity (cloud services, electronic cards, mobile communications, etc.) and to support business transformation in a fast and timely manner. With software integration, you speed up solving problems and improve your multi-functionality.
Likewise, you meet future business integration needs by providing scalability and resiliency for B2B data and communications. You maintain transaction volume and business partner growth with flexible, scalable software.
What type of software needs to be integrated?
Although large companies often create their own software, many businesses tend to use software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions as well. This type of tool allows them to make their application programming interface (API) publicly available, which expands the integration options. As a reason, small businesses frequently use SaaS to scale in a long-run perspective. Also, read our recent article in order to be able to reduce costs by 40%-70% on the engineering team – you’ll know how software development rates can significantly differ by region.
Besides integrating SaaS with existing solutions to enhance their capabilities, you can test the new projects as a business hypothesis. These platforms allow you to quickly implement the required set of tools and functions. For example, this can be call tracking, analytics tools, contextual advertising customization services, and so on.
Regardless of the size of your business, if you are running your own software and need to integrate, you may need a team of engineers to help with the software architecture required for the integration. Sounds too complicated or over budget? Don’t worry, there are several ready-made enterprise integration programs you might want to consider. Leave your contact information to find more about them.
Which type of data requires integration?
Data can obtain disparate business information, from metrics to services’ names, customers history, etc. You don’t need to integrate every element of your databases – there should be a logic behind it.
To make raw data into meaningful and valuable information, analysts and data scientists should identify which data to collect from multiple applications as well as which part of your two or more databases makes sense to merge. Further, it would be easier to gain a better understanding of operational performance and what software programs need to be integrated.
For example, customer data integration pulls information about each individual user from disparate business systems for sales, accounting, and marketing, which makes then a single customer profile. In addition, this data may also be used for various purposes such as customer service, loyalty programs, or international and side-by-side sales.
What integration tool does the business need?
The choice of this or that integration toolkit is determined not by what the supplies say about it, but by the specific composition of hardware and software solutions in the organization, which must be made to work together. It should be understood that there is no universal approach to software integration. However, you can always find the optimal integration tool within a specific scenario.
The number of possible integration tools is growing at a tremendous rate. Though the most currently robust are the next:
- IBM Enterprise BUS
- MuleSoft Anypoint Platform
- FUSE ESB
- Dell Boomi
Leave your contact information to find which is the most suitable for your specific case.
Popular types of software integration
Star integration is the type of software integration where each of the company’s subsystems can access the functionality and data of any other source. Depending on the number of interconnected systems, the diagram of its links may also look like spaghetti. As a result, one may also know it as the spaghetti method.
Star integration proves to be effective within the organization processes as the departments can reuse software functionalities. But, on the other hand, the cost of maintaining such an integration scheme grows exponentially as the number of integrated subsystems can increase or change.
Let’s say, if it is necessary to change something in the one subsystem (for example, in accounting – to switch its object model), then this may lead to the rework of all other subsystems that use it since calls to the old object model will stop working. If you have 2-3 systems integrated, it’s not a big issue. But imagine, if 10 and more – that can be overwhelming.
Horizontal integration (also known as the Enterprise Service Bus)
The horizontal approach is based on the use of specialized middleware software – the so-called Enterprise Service Bus. Its major task is to store the repository of the functionality of corporate applications/systems that connect to it. In turn, the interaction between applications can, for example, take the form of messaging or updated published functions in the form of web services. Thus, in such a manner, the connected apps can effectively leverage data and functions of other systems for their own operational work.
For businesses, Enterprise Service Bus works well in the long-run perspective since the approach proves to be very flexible. It allows adjusting the structure of the entire system (adding/removing components) without interruption of other parts.
Within this type, systems are integrated according to the principle of functional expertise, and data will be shared to a vertically higher system. For instance, in the company, there are sales and accounting expertises (and the last is higher vertically in the system). Thus, the sales expertise will supply data to the accounting, just a one-way approach.
Vertical type can be effective from the short-term perspective since the data is not properly shared within all business departments and is isolated in one system. Still, the approach can stream the work of supply chain management as it allows you to significantly reduce labor costs for duplicate and paper operations. Best suited for retail businesses.
To continue, in our trendy article, find out how companies are taking advantage of the use of RPA in finance and accounting, operational tasks, procurement, and customer service.
Software integration process: 5 main steps
Starting the software integration process, review the following steps to help you determine development costs and time. These stages take into account business and technical planning.
1. Analyze the current infrastructure
The first phase includes gathering and analyzing information on the software systems that you plan to integrate. Here the IT vendor or the in-house team document the specifications, functions, used resources, and problematic issues concerning their software. In particular, the team determines what systems are the masters and what are the consumers of which data; the quality of data transmission and processing, etc.
2. Prepare the future solution
After completing the analysis, the IT provider proposes the most appropriate plan for a software integration solution and proceeds to build the system architecture. Here, as a customer, you will receive detailed diagrams of how the various systems will integrate and aggregate data, estimate the approximate cost and time required for integration. This planning will keep operations running smoothly, even if it would be a required expansion of the developers.
3. Design the software integration system
Based on an architectural design, the team develops its physical equivalent. The included methods are preliminary designs, system tests, logistics, etc. It is the time-consuming stage, which largely depends on how well the previous steps have been performed and whether all the necessary details have been taken into account. With proper integration, the vendor should successfully and easily complete the process without losing valuable data.
4. Implement the solution
After designing and testing for quality assurance, the software solution is ready for deployment. If any bugs arise, the testers check the system again to make it error-free. And once the integration process is complete, management begins training employees on the new system.
5. Provide proper maintenance
The advantage of integrating your subsystems into a professional company over buying a new turnkey solution is that the system integrator guarantees your product will work flawlessly even after its release. Developers should regularly evaluate the system’s performance and ensure that inconsistencies are quickly identified and corrected.
Cases where software integration can help your company
We gather the next cases where your company can benefit from the integration solution and gain insights for implementation.
- When an organization plans to expand by partnering with other businesses or adding new branches, and it is necessary to integrate into a single network.
- The need for the systematic development of the corporate system and the introduction of new functional components into it.
- If an organization changes the direction of its primary activities or merges between different structures, you need a complex integration, which can include rethinking work processes and reorganizing the business.
- You have the applications from different vendors or the presence of several databases across the enterprise and is in need the data to be consolidated.
- If you have a complex business domain such as Fintech, Telecom, Healthcare, you are more likely to need integration to maintain consolidated management accounting for multiple branches.
- The need for decreasing the effort and time of collecting information from different resources.
- If you want to reduce the total cost of labor resources for maintaining accounting operations and eliminating repetitive questions.
- When the business needs an automatic collection of information from disparate sources in real-time and their instant conversion to the relevant format.
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The success of modern business directly depends on the ability to quickly and efficiently make changes to the existing IT infrastructure and ensure harmonious work on the transformation and processing of data. The 11+ years of FreySoft experience in the implementation of software integration will provide the required level of quality and will allow you to develop your business more dynamically.
What software integration services do we provide?
- Analysis of the company’s software and creation of an integration plan.
- Linking applications into a single system based on web technologies.
- Combine data from different sources and provide it in a unified form.
- Automating and speeding up the exchange of data between systems.
- Integration via API of CRM systems with accounting, website, mobile application, or other software.
- Switching from monolith to microservices architecture.
- Outsourcing one and more specialists for the lack of resources within the company.
What else expertise does the FreySoft team possess?
Besides Integration & Automatization, our company operates within the next focused areas:
- Web app development
- Progressive web applications and native apps
- MVP development for startups
- Support & maintenance
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence solutions
- UI/ UX design
Check our portfolio to learn more closely about how FreySoft outstaff specialists have helped companies using IT expertise. If you have questions or are ready to get professional assistance with your project, contact us.
Software integration is vital to the competitiveness of today’s business, since all elements of integrated systems are combined into a single technological process and interact through an internal local network. In addition, moving and merging data reduces manual work and improves the speed of information flows.
The software integration process is the joint work of systems and applications that are aimed at effective management of the company’s business activities, organizing and monitoring the work of personnel, and other elements of production. Its main purpose is the free exchange of information between the staff and the creation of a single database of the company.
Not every component of the database needs to be integrated. To find out which data to move and merge between the systems, you or your IT vendor need to conduct the analysis and identify this issue based on the company’s operational performance and business needs.