Make sure you’re getting what you pay for – and what you need.
If your various software platforms are not currently connected as a single source of operations data, you have a pressing problem on your hands. From duplicate data entry to reformatting to legacy system challenges and more, your current digital infrastructure is creating more work and offering less value. Lose, lose.
More than 80 percent of operations leaders, with manufacturing as a top three industry in need of integration, already know that integrating their data systems is critical to their success. Unfortunately, just knowing you should doesn’t mean you know how, a truth that becomes painfully obvious when you consider that nearly three-quarters of IT budgets are going toward system integrations.
A fast-growing industry, the global system integration market is expected to reach $31.5 billion by 2026. If you’re in the camp of (A) I know I should and (B) this is work I’m going to need to outsource, you have no shortage in finding a software partner who will jump to do it. Of course, this does leave you with (C) – who should I choose? Vetting software vendors can be tricky, especially if you feel out of depth with the technology involved in the work you’re seeking. That’s why On Now Digital put together this handy list of questions you can ask your potential integration partner.
5 Strategy questions
Technical expertise is expected in a software partner. However, business acumen is not necessarily a given. Since a system integration project is a chance to improve your overall business processes, you’ll want to make sure your chosen vendor can bring some analytical heft. Consider asking:
How does your integration plan support our business goals?
What type of success metrics do you recommend?
Do you offer any business intelligence enhancements?
How easily will your solution scale when we add new systems?
What do you think we are overlooking?
5 Process questions
There’s a lot of nitty-gritty involved in software integration. You want a partner that is organized, efficient and process-oriented. Here are a few considerations:
Do you provide data cleansing services during the integration?
Can you handle all data formats (even company-specific ones)?
Will my data remain accessible in real-time throughout the process?
What data security measures do you take?
How much customization is involved with your plug and play options?
5 Relationship questions
No, this isn’t dating advice, but also… it is kind of like dating advice. You and your integration partner will be in a business relationship, and the best kinds involve respect, communication and trust. Get a good sense for your potential integration partner by asking:
What are your company’s core values?
Do you have a full-time team or do you use contractors?
What type of ongoing support do you provide?
What industries do you serve?
Do you have references I can contact?
When meeting with software integration partners, you will likely get much more in the weeds with talk of APIs, integration methodologies, legacy system requirements, etc. However, these questions will hopefully get you to a point where you trust that the firm you’re working with understands your goals and jibes with your team. When those two aspects align, chances are that you’ll have a positive experience. Want to keep learning? Read these tips for a strategy-focused integration.