Deploying a new enterprise software solution is no small feat, especially if you’re developing an ERP platform. From the time you compile a requirements document for your new software platform to that long-awaited deployment day, it is not uncommon to spend months planning, developing, training users and working on other aspects of the process.
Many will place their focus on software features and functionalities or various elements of the implementation and deployment processes. But integration is one of the most important — and potentially, rather challenging — parts of a software build.
What is Integration in the Software Development Process?
Integration refers to the connections that are forged between two or more separate platforms. Once an integration is established, data is transferred and synced back and forth between multiple software platforms.
From a technical perspective, APIs — application programming interfaces — are key for third-party integrations. API integration achieves a connection between two or more platforms, allowing for data to flow back and forth. You can think of APIs as a type of software “bridge” that connects multiple stand-alone platforms, enabling them to “talk” and share data.
A vast majority of enterprise software integrations involve third-party integrations. Third-party platforms commonly make their APIs publicly available to software developers. In cases where there is no API available, your development team will be tasked with developing the integration on their own — a task that makes these integrations a bit more complex and time-consuming.
An Example of Enterprise Software API Integrations
Wondering how API integrations work when developing enterprise software? For example, let’s say you’re a garment designer and you’re developing an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform for your business. Common ERP integrations might include some of the following.
- Integrations with a company’s banks to send financial data to the accounting ERP module.
- Integrations with an e-commerce platform, allowing for sales data to be accessible within the e-commerce management area of the ERP platform.
- Integrations with an inventory management system so users can manage this data alongside sales transactions data.
- Integrations with payment processors to allow for data syncing with the ERP platform’s financial module.
- Integrations with the company’s shipping and logistics vendors for centralized order fulfillment management within a central platform.
- Integrations with a CRM and email marketing platforms to centralize operations within the enterprise software platform.
These are a few of the ERP integrations that a company may wish to consider in the case of a retail business with an e-commerce platform. But the possibilities are really limitless since the exact integrations will be dependent upon the company’s unique needs.
Why Are Software Integrations So Important?
Integrations are really essential for achieving efficiency and maximum productivity within your enterprise software systems. Integrations allow for automated data sharing and data flow between multiple platforms. Essentially, you are taking disparate, siloed data stores and you are connecting and / or centralizing them in a way that provides users with a more complete perspective.
Consider the alternative: Let’s say you’re developing an ERP platform and you opt to forego an integration with your payment processor. Instead of being able to view those transactions in the financial module’s dashboard, your accounting department must manually import that data or toggle between the new ERP platform and the third-party payment processor’s portal.
In this example, you can clearly see how a third-party integration can bring a significant benefit by way of productivity. Manual import/exports or toggling back and forth between multiple software portals is time-consuming and inefficient. Automating the process with an integration is far more efficient and user-friendly. Plus, you are effectively removing the possibility of human error — something that is extremely important for maintaining data integrity.
Additionally, integrations allow for real-time data flow. This is an important benefit for companies with data-driven operations that move at a rapid clip.
Identifying Enterprise Software Platform Integrations in Your Requirements Document
Third-party integrations are an important and central component of an enterprise software development project. A company’s integration needs must be clearly articulated in the software requirements document.
An ERP system could have dozens of API integrations across all of its modules. Identifying the necessary integrations can be a tremendous challenge when developing enterprise software. The problem: generally, there is no single person who has insight into each and every department’s integration needs. This means you must connect with leadership in each and every department that will be using the software to identify the different integrations that will be required. It is critical that you take the time to identify all existing integrations and any additional connections that ought to be forged during the development process. This information is then included in the project’s requirements document.
Integrations are commonly used to achieve various functionalities within a software platform. This amplifies the complexity of implementing overlooked integrations midway through (or after) the software development process.
For instance, a shop’s payment processor data may flow into their software platform via an integration. The data is then sent to the order fulfillment region of the system where orders with completed and verified payments are sent to a queue for shipment. As you can see, the integration is tied to another functionality. If the integration was initially overlooked during the development of the software requirements document, the development team would need to go back and not only establish the integration, but they would also need to tie it into the above-mentioned process flow.
API integrations can bring tremendous benefits to your enterprise software platform. By appreciating their importance, you will be well-positioned to help identify all existing and desired integrations as you develop your software requirements document.
Ready to Develop Your Software Requirements Document?
At 7T, we routinely integrate third-party platforms with our enterprise mobile apps and enterprise software development projects. Our team has extensive experience working with API integrations, leading to some great results and a significant ROI. We’ve found that a solid software requirements document is the key to success, so we’ve authored an ebook on the topic to help our clients to get started down the right path.
The 7T development team works with company leaders who are seeking to solve problems and drive ROI through digital transformation. As an innovative Dallas software and mobile app development company, we offer collaborative, multi-phased software development services to clients in all business sectors.
Our offices are situated in Dallas, Houston and Austin, but our clientele spans the globe. If you’re ready to learn more about developing enterprise software, a mobile app or another solution for your organization, contact 7T today.