By: Le'Mina McNair on October 17th, 2022
Top 5 Questions to Ask When Implementing Custom Integrations
Any modern marketing agency, retailer, or creative team worth their salt runs on a tech stack, that being software solutions that power an application, project, or projects. Search for an agency or check a company’s website, and you’re likely to find a banner of icons displaying the software they use. But what a banner of icons doesn’t capture is whether an agency’s software are working together, receiving, processing, generating, and – most of all – sharing data as one, integrated whole. Because even the most sophisticated software only function at a fraction of its potential when siloed off from other solutions.
Perhaps you’ve heard of software integrations, researched them, or considered partnering with a custom integration solutions provider. No matter which stage of the process you’re in, now’s the time to educate yourself so you’re better prepared to define and articulate your needs, goals, and expectations for a future solution. Here are IO Integration’s top five questions for strategizing and implementing custom integration solutions.
Question 1: What Are My Business or Operation Goals?
We get it. What “top five” list of questions doesn’t start with some version of “know thyself, know thy business”? But hear us out.
Software solutions – on their own or part of a custom integration solution – are far and away unlike most other consumer products. There are so many software available on the market, which is growing each and every day. And while no solution can do everything, there are some that get pretty darn close and can tackle multiple business challenges. But this can create a problem of abundance: a dizzying number of problems that need solving and software or integrations that need implementing.
So, before you set in motion the process to design, create, and deploy a custom integration, relocate your center. Maybe set aside your laptop, grab a pen and pad of paper and write out your business or operation goals. Stick with big-picture goals – instead of getting stuck in the weeds – then work backward, identifying roadblocks impeding these goals. Sure, this is a simple practice, doing so better prepares you to enter a future conversation with a custom integration solutions provider. And that’s good for everyone.
Question 2: What Are My Challenges? (And How Do I Best Communicate Them?)
So, you’ve re-familiarized yourself with your big-picture goals. Now we identify your pain points. While your challenges are unique to you, at IO Integration, we tend to see a few common pain points, which are worth reviewing.
Let’s focus on a creative agency that’s struggling with its marketing technology strategy. Perhaps you’ve also observed bottlenecks, silos, and gaps within a tech stack. As a whole, they affect “operational visibility,” or an organization’s capacity to observe its operations and, more importantly, data, impeding its ability to make informed decisions. How does reduced operational visibility translate to day-to-day pain points? Here are a few examples:
- “Workload opacity.” When leaders and/or managers don’t have visibility of a team’s assigned projects, tasks, or work-related obligations (such as meetings), which can create an imbalance of work and bandwidth.
- “Delays and slow delivery time.” Similar to workload opacity, teams may operate without visibility of task due dates and project deadlines, creating a dearth of important information. (IO Integration is working on a solution for that, called Reminders.)
- “Communication breakdowns.” While good communication is a team member’s responsibility, there’s a tech component as well. Such as when comments on a word document do not appear when the file is opened outside of its native software.
Question 3: Basic Configuration or a Comprehensive, Custom Development?
Here, we arrive at a question of scale: do your pain points challenge require a custom integration that’s a basic configuration or a custom development?
Basic configurations often entail setting up and/or integrating your existing tech stack to produce an outcome that aligns with your business goals. These suit agencies with tech stacks that are not yet integrated and optimized into streamlined solutions. A basic configuration unlocks a tech stack’s potential.
Custom developments go a step further. Beyond setting up and integrating solutions, they also include designing, building, and deploying custom solutions, such as integrations, which can extend a system’s existing capabilities. Because they’re custom, these suit agencies whose needs are not met by existing solutions.
Question 4: What Solutions Are Out There?
As we said at the top of the blog – and elsewhere – there are a lot of software on the market. So before you speak with a custom integration solutions provider, refresh your knowledge of current tools, applications, and integrations, so you’re better able to define and articulate your goals. Here’s a list of common solutions:
- Project Management Systems
- Content Creation & Production Tools
- Digital, Product & Media Asset Management
- Enterprise Content Management
- Content Management Systems
- Customer Relationship Management
- Social Media Management
- Data Analytics Tools
What are common integration solutions? Here are a few:
- PMS & DAM: Integrating a Project Management System and Digital Asset Management can create streamlined access to projects and files.
- DAM & Content Creation Software: Integrating Digital Asset Management and a Content Creation or Editing Software helps teams more easily move files into a workspace.
- Data Analytics Tools & CMS, CRM, SMM: Integrating an Analytics Tool with a Content Management System, Customer Relationship, or Social Media Management powers ongoing gathering and analysis of data.
Question 5: What Can an Integration Solutions Provider Offer?
And finally, what can a custom integration solutions provider offer? By and large, software and integrations require specialized knowledge to yield high ROIs. Outside of hiring an in-house software engineer, who are often expensive, third-party experts, such as IO Integration, are an efficient, cost-effective way to get the most from your software.
Focusing on custom marketing solutions, here are a few services IO Integration offers:
- User Story: An overview of desired outcomes and how IO Integration’s team will work with your team to meet these goals
- Mockups: Visual representations of the user interaction (UI), user experience (UX, and composition of your custom integration solution
- Use Cases: Detailed explorations of how various solutions can satisfy the user story
- Success Criteria: Standards that capture the final stage of a system adoption
- User Acceptance Testing: Evaluation to ensure requirements are met
Partner With IO Integration
At IO Integration, our speciality is custom integrations. We partner with marketing agencies like yours to design, build and deploy custom-made integrations that de-silo software solutions and enable teams to operate more efficiently. Our team can join your process at any stage, including consultation, implementation and support. Schedule a call and discover what our team can do for you.