When I entered the workforce, software was all about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. These mammoth systems had it all -- everything for everybody and every department yet no one could figure out how to use them. We ended up with a lot of garbage-data in and even more garbage-data out.
Fast-forward to today, when being in the cloud and mobile are the new norm and we have a new operating philosophy: Choose best-in-class software that tackles workflow, then connect them to other systems using integrations to close the gaps in your operations.
Based on my experience and Loft47's, let's dig into what makes an integration legitimate and provide some tips on choosing the right tools for the job.
Are These Even Integrations?
How do we know which integrations hold real value? Here are some examples of what to avoid:
- Doesn’t increase your efficiency: A well oiled integration should thoughtfully connect and transfer data from one app to another, seamlessly, thus increasing your Brokerage's efficiency.
- The integration only provides one function: One of our clients took on a product for one of its advertised integrations, on the promise of increased efficiency. What was delivered was a CSV export. A data export is not an integration.
- Very light integrations that break: If you're constantly getting error messages that an integration is breaking, it's very likely that not much developer time was spent on testing and understanding the relationship between the two apps.
- Doesn’t pass on the right information, at the right time: It's frustrating when half of the data moves over into the next stage. What pieces of info went missing?
“An export of data is not an integration.”
Choosing the Right Software Integrations
Integrations are at their best when they don't feel like an integration. Here's how to choose software intended for integrating:
- Make sure you see a demo of the integration: Lots of companies claim they have deep integrations with their partners but it's best to see the workflow in action before adding anything new to your tech stack.
- Make sure you know and understand what data flows through each app and when: Integrations are only going to work for your Brokerage if you understand the workflow and the data is available at the right time.
- How many clicks does it take to get the data flowing? Yes, buttons are fun to press but in this case, the less clicks the better! You have work to get done and a business to run.
- Find out which data entered in the initial data record does NOT land in the next system. We've seen this before. The mapping of data has not been well thought out and the keying of data doesn't make its way to the partner app.
Integrations are meant to make our lives easier, to connect our systems and move our data through various departments making it easier to consume and report on. If your integration takes time away from your operation then it’s not helping you, it’s hindering you.
We don’t believe in the philosophy of pointing the finger at other apps we partner with if the systems aren't seamless right away. We like to dig in and make sure any challenges are resolved. Since our business hinges on connecting with other awesome products, our clients' success with the whole application stack is part of our support offering.
Do you have a favorite Real Estate app that integrates seamlessly with another app?