Integrated vs Integration - The difference is cost
This article is the first of a series, "Intro to EMS Software", dedicated to exploring the basics of Software as a Service (SaaS) for the EMS industry. Like other industries, EMS is evolving, the need to adopt operation improving software and cost reducing technologies is a necessity. Deciding on the type of software and its configuration, which are numerous, can be daunting. This series will demystify the types of SaaS options and look at best practices fro your EMS business. Let's jump in and take a look at integration vs integrated.
Do you have an integrated system solution or a systems integration solution?
There is a difference!
An integrated system is one system with a standardized data set. While, system integration means there are multiple solutions that are linked together through other software or APIs. Each strategy has its own benefits and downfalls and should be carefully considered before deciding on a solution.
Integrated systems share one platform that utilizes a single data set. This means that all your applications including; scheduling, fleet maintenance, CAD, etc., run as part of a single solution and share data.
One clear benefit of a single data set is real-time reporting and analytics. Each application is using the same data set, that data is shared between applications and always up-to-date and accurate. As an employee this means needing to key in the information only once. As a manager having up to the minute or even up to the second information can mean the difference between success or failure, which sometimes means lives.
Benefits to an Integrated System include:
- Low upkeep costs as the data set is standardized
- Global feature enhancement will be free
- Updates are automatically configurable to the data set
System Integration requires the linking of multiple solutions, in essence building software that allows different data sets to communicate and share data, otherwise known as APIs. This puts the burden of smooth operation on your IT staff through constant upkeep of your APIs. A benefit to this type of structure is less pressure on your staff to learn a new platform.
Some negatives include
- Large upfront costs in API development
- Constant upkeep based on needs and business growth
- Employment of a larger IT staff
Look to the future
Each system has its own benefits and pitfalls. System integration may alleviate the need for learning new software and procedures, but may cost more in the long run depending on your needs and operational growth. While an integrated system offers real-time data for better business decisions and low upkeep costs. It is important to weigh your current situation and your business’s future outlook to determine which solution is best for you.
In the next article of the "Intro to EMS Software" series we'll look at how EMS software can help with benchmarking, evolve your biz, become more competitive and a market leader.