Integrating New Software With Legacy Systems - Custom or Off-the-Shelf Solution?
Implementing new software in your business’ tech stack often causes problems and issues. What is the best way to integrate new software into a legacy system?
Whether you want to enhance the customer experience or improve your business processes, new programs have to be integrated or connected with other services. Your existing tech stack will determine how difficult this will be and what steps you must take to make the integration and subsequent operations as quick and painless as possible.
Common Problems with Integrating New Software
A growing company that tries to avoid too much technical debt must implement new solutions. Problems arise when the new software needs to connect with older, legacy systems already used in the organization. Maybe this just requires some data sharing. Or maybe you want to use the existing back end to present something on a new system’s front end. Regardless of what you’re using and what you’re planning to use, problems are bound to appear.
Most of the issues arise when your legacy systems are older, rarely used by other companies (or maybe even built specifically for your business), and can’t be easily replaced. There are multiple reasons this situation can occur: sector regulations, company policy, business continuity, and costs of migration to a new system.
The key is to analyze your existing tech stack, business processes, and requirements. Can an off-the-shelf solution easily connect to all your systems and satisfy all your needs? Usually, the answer is “no”. Sometimes the company’s needs are so unique that developing a bespoke solution is necessary.
Methods of Software Integration
Even if you aim to use out-of-the-box software, designing a custom solution that will act as an intermediary might be required. It will “translate” the output of your legacy software into a format usable for the new program. There are multiple ways to perform the integration:
This method involves establishing a direct connection between two selected systems. While it is relatively simple to implement and offers good performance, it can become challenging to manage as the number of services – and connections – increases. It’s a good solution for small companies with just a few systems.
Application Programming Interfaces (API)
This solution allows one piece of software to request data from another. It enables different systems to communicate and share data securely and efficiently. An API offers better performance, scalability, and flexibility than point-to-point solutions.
This involves transferring files between different systems through a shared storage location. While file sharing is cost-effective and easy to implement, it poses a considerable security risk due to the possibility of unauthorized access and the lack of control over the files.
Enterprise Service Bus (ESB)
ESB is a middleware software, an intermediary that facilitates communication between different systems and applications by providing a centralized hub for managing communication and data exchange.
Integration Platforms as a Service (iPaaS)
iPaaS is a Cloud-based solution offering a unified integration approach. It provides pre-built connectors and workflows for integrating different systems and applications. It reduces the complexity and enables the monitoring and management of integrations.
Should You Use a Custom Solution or an Off-the-Shelf Application?
The decision of what integration solution to pick depends on the size of your company, the number of systems used, and your specific business requirements.
First, you must analyze the solutions available on the market. Are there systems that satisfy all your business needs? Sometimes a company’s needs are so unique that developing a bespoke solution is necessary.
Choosing a tailor-made solution ensures that the software fulfills all the requirements and provides the most significant competitive advantage. A specialized, customized application can offer all the functionalities you need. If the quality or performance of the solution is among your selling points, consider implementing custom software.
Some companies, such as banks, have specific data security standards they must meet. Local, national, and industry regulations prevent companies from using off-the-shelf software. Building a custom solution will guarantee that the system fits your existing tech stack while satisfying the requirements of the regulators.
Off-the-shelf solutions might also contain hard-coded features that your company doesn’t need. Sometimes those additional options make the software more challenging to navigate and adversely affect performance.
In some companies, the processes and workflows are so complex that the intermediary system becomes an application itself. Implementing an out-of-the-box solution requiring an intermediary system will also strain your infrastructure more than a customized application.
Guaranteeing the Success of an Integration Project
It's vital to thoroughly assess your organization's needs and product requirements before starting the project. A thorough analysis and audit of the currently available solutions can improve the likelihood of project success and ensure that the software you choose remains valuable over the long term.
A trusted development partner is critical in creating a well-integrated solution. You should know how to find a provider, collaborate with them, manage a project, and what areas require special attention if you want to succeed.
You may already have a technology supplier. If you have positive experiences and are satisfied with your joint work and its results, you've found a good fit. Sometimes, however, even a long-time working relationship ceases to be satisfactory. Find out when it’s high time to change your tech provider.