When you hear a salesperson say their system is “fully integrated”, you need to perk up your ears and ask some very important questions.
People define “integration” in very different ways. For some, integration means connecting different systems, in various levels of automation or even through manual processes. Others mean there is only one toolkit and one database, which is the obvious preference. Supporting differing systems where data is being integrated can be troublesome to get working and keep working. This can lead to delays in obtaining information and costly support charges if something goes wrong. Here are some useful questions to consider.
- How many different databases would we be running? Connecting different databases can be tricky, time-consuming, and very expensive.
- If there are multiple systems, are the connections real-time or is data transfered on a batch basis, by automated or manual processes?
- If there are multiple systems, exactly what data is being transferred? Integration can mean something as simple as transferring over finished invoices to be included in accounts receivable and the general ledger or it can mean pushing detail over so the receiving system has analysis capabilities.
- How well does the data map between different systems?
- Are the technologies being integrated compatible? And not just in a theoretical way. Do they natively integrate to each other? Having two Microsoft SQL Server databases is always better, for example, than trying to integrate SQL Server to an Oracle database.
- Who is supporting the integration between diverse systems? Not only are integrations between multiple databases inherently unreliable, but it is important to know who is taking responsibility if something goes wrong. Two systems often means two vendors and this can lead to fingerpointing, delays, and higher costs.
- Is all transferred data subject to the business rules of the receiving system? Pushing data directly into operating tables or files is a dangerous thing to do. Data should move into a process where the data is subject to the posting or other routines in the receiving system. This ensures data is valid and all appropriate tables will be updated correctly.
A rental, service, and financial system from Open Door Technology is fully integrated within one toolkit and one database. Your end users will not see where one module starts and another ends. For more information, please contact Malcolm at Open Door Technology at 877-777-7764 x105.