System Integration combines two stand-alone systems to create one comprehensive network. Integration projects require immense comprehension, and the key to successful integration is to create a plan. A structured approach will help you avoid issues that may pop up without in-depth technical scoping. Here are four main things to consider when approaching integration projects.
Cloud System Versus On-Premise System
First, identify how accessible the system is. Is your system hosted on the cloud or on-premise? Identifying where your system lives will help you determine how easy it will be to access, retrieve, and integrate data with the new system you bring into your process.
Cloud systems are remotely accessed and often hosted by a third-party service. These systems can be easier to access and integrate with other systems via an Application Programming Interface (API). API’s allow for dynamic interaction with the cloud system’s back-end database. These interactions send queries or instructions to the system to execute data pulls and transformation.
The internal IT department is responsible for managing an on-premise system and the setup and maintenance of your organization’s unique security requirements. Depending on your organization’s security requirements, barriers like firewalls and IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems) can add an unexpected degree of complexity.
All outside entities will likely be blocked from accessing your server depending on how your firewall is configured. If your system is hosted on-site, your IT team can whitelist specific access paths. Developers can also build SQL’s (Structured Query Language) to pull data from your on-premise systems and then store them into an external server that is still protected behind your firewall. With this built, your development team can extract that data and push it into, for example, HubSpot or Salesforce. An on-premise system is typically more challenging to extract data from; a project involving such a system will require some support from a knowledgeable development team and your IT team.
Considering the time interval that data needs to pass back and forth between integrated systems is essential. Say, for example, information has been input into system A; does it immediately need to move to system B as well? How often does it need to move? Hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly? The big question here is how quickly does data need to move across your systems? If you require the most up-to-date data, you’ll need to extract data as it enters your system. Webhooks are a great way to link data across systems. A webhook is when an action happens in system A, and it automatically sends to system B. This is ideal for interconnected systems, like marketing automation platforms and CRMs, so both marketers and the sales team have the most up-to-date information at any given time.
It’s essential to understand if the data models of the systems being integrated are natively compatible. It usually comes down to whether systems use Custom Object or Standard Objects. An object is a set of properties that make up an item. Standard objects could be Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity, while custom objects are objects you create to store information specific to your company or industry. A piece of data leaving the system must have a “home” to go into the system it’s being integrated. Here at OBO, we make data models compatible by aligning these objects in the systems we’re integrating.
System Capabilities and Limitations
Knowing your systems’ capabilities and limitations will give you an idea if specific data can pass from one system to another. Understanding if the systems allow for custom mapping; otherwise, incompatible objects will indicate if you need a more custom build.
Another significant aspect to consider is how many systems overall need to be integrated. Often, one system pushes data into another system. If that’s the case, this is regarded as one-way sync. If two systems will correspond records to each other, it’s considered a bilateral sync. If an update occurs in one system, it has to update in the other system. If that is the case, we have to establish business rules in which one system holds master records. We create unique IDs across bilateral sync systems to maintain the data’s integrity as it passes into each system.
There are several complexities involved in systems integration, so it would be smart to call for professional help if you are unsure that your organization can tackle it. OBO has done countless integration and migration projects, and we handle the complexities so you can focus on your business goals and employees. Creating people-focused solutions is at the core of our work, so let us know if you need our support!