June 19, 2018 | Cory Berg
Most field service companies have an accounting or ERP system in place, but have not yet integrated to a field service software. Integrations can make your team’s life a lot easier by ensuring your data gets seamlessly transferred between your core systems. They can also be tremendously frustrating when things go wrong and you feel powerless to fix the problems. Here are some questions you can ask when finding an integration strategy that works for you:
How should my systems be integrated?
There are many important technical decisions involved when integrating software systems together. Some of these decisions depend on your requirements for the amount of data being exchanged between systems, and how fast the data must be pushed around. In general, most modern integrations use one or more of these approaches:
- File-based: data is moved around by extracting files from one system and loading them into another. This is often slow and error-prone, but it can be efficient when the volume of data is large.
- API-based: systems are integrated by calling each others’ APIs, either directly or through a third party integration layer. This approach will usually result in near-real time appearance of data between the systems when your data volume is fairly small.
- Database integration: systems are integrated by exchanging data directly. This is normally done through some form of Extract-Transform-Load (ETL) processes and technical tools.
What can I Expect from my Integration?
Whenever you have two software products integrating together, there are always going to be trade-offs; it is unrealistic to think that you can make a million changes in your ERP and have all of those changes appear in your Field Service software immediately. If your integration is properly designed for you, you should expect:
- Data that you change in one system should appear in the other within a period of time that is ideal for you and your business.
- The data shared between your systems should be predictable, with no important fields missing.
- One system should never cause the other system to stop working.
How Can I Tell if my Integration is Working?
Integrations normally work behind the scenes, passing data between systems without you even being aware of it. Even so, you should be able to easily get an answer to the question: “Is my integration working?” without having to ask an IT person. Often this can be as simple as an email notification or a status field that tells you that your integration is currently healthy.
What Happens When Things Break?
Integrations can sometimes involve complicated pieces of technology and carefully orchestrated interactions. At some time or another, your integration will probably break and require fixing. You should expect:
- A notification to easily find out when your integration is not working.
- Your integration should either recover from outages by itself, or you should be able to re-start it without requiring technical help.
There is no shortage of benefits that a well-designed integration can provide. Integrating your field service software with your accounting or ERP system can be the game-changer to take your business to the next level in today’s competitive environment.
Interested in learning more about integrating with AgileField? Request more information here!