When building and developing websites, the bigger picture is often overlooked. What is this bigger picture? It is known as: Full Back Office Integration.
Now I know that doesn’t sound like a sexy phrase, but this is something that will add immense value to your client, and provides a great upsell for any existing or ongoing web projects. Of course it should form part of your discovery phase going forward if it is not already.
What is Back Office Integration
This is essentially the connection of data into some form of management software that is used within the office or business. For example:
- Project Management
- Zoho Projects
- Accounts Software
- Sage Line 50 / Sage Packages
What Are The Benefits?
Let’s pick up on Accounts. Your client’s accountant might want a regular update of all sales made as well as the details of the client. Without any integration, they would need to run reports or export data from solutions such as WooCommerce, then either re-key it all, or have to manipulate the data each time to import it into their software.
Let’s highlight the issues with this scenario:
- Time intensive
- Duplication of effort
- Scope for human error during re-key
- Potential for import errors from poorly formatted data
The same applies to all areas of your clients business. Why should leads received from the contact form be re-keyed into a CRM when they could be submitted directly and instantly kicking off the relevant sales workflow process?
Every project is different. You are working with a range of WordPress plugins, custom code and any number of unique client applications therefore the tools you need will be different per job. Here are a range of tools and methods to get you started.
Plugins With Cloud Based Solutions
Due to the unique setup of each site, there is no one plugin you can use to integrate all data, however there are several cloud based services that can integrate with WordPress and a range of WordPress plugins.
For example, check out Zapier.
Zapier allows you to connect WordPress with multiple online applications. For example (not limited to):
- WordPress + Mailchimp
- Eventbrite + WordPress
- WordPress + Zoho CRM
- And so on
There are a wide range of triggers supported, including
- New post
- New taxonomy
- New comment
You can also trigger off pretty much anything using “Any Webhook” and the HookPress plugin (Boom!).
The following awesome plugins also have Zapier integration options:
- Gravity Forms
- Formidable Forms Pro
- And many more, just hit Google 🙂
Other solutions similar to Zapier include:
If This Then That: https://ifttt.com/
Cloud Work: https://cloudwork.com
Software Based Solutions
The more complex a build, the less likely a cloud based solution will be right for your client. Also your client may be running software that is less common and not supported by cloud based solutions. As long as they have a standard data source such as MSSQL etc, then you can still build integrations with little to no code. There are several solutions available. For example, Windows based Talend.
Their open source community software can be installed in a Windows Server environment (also runs well in virtual server environments). Everything is visual so you can drag and drop sources, tables, fields and create rules and triggers for different types of data and workflows.
Get it here: http://www.talend.com/
Other solutions along a similar vein include:
Apatar – http://apatar.com/
Jitterbit – http://www.jitterbit.com/
WordPress now comes with the REST API, and has always has XML feeds available. Working with your client’s software API’s, your developers will be able to create integration to match the required workflow. If your clients software has a well documented API, this need not be an expensive solution. If you need any support in integrating with client API’s, we have connected 100s of services over the years. Get in touch today.
Now that we have armed you with new knowledge, go check out your client sites, and your existing/upcoming projects. Where can you add value by connecting services? Once you have established your client’s needs, you can start to explore the options above that are available to you. Data integration is a subject that really excites us, so if you want to chat about an existing project, follow this link, fill us in on the details and lets connect.