Integrating the Best
Written by: Douglas Naufel on Friday, 08 June, 2018
What we have learned over the years is that it is usually more beneficial to integrate the best tools available as opposed to trying to find something that is all-in-one. When you integrate, you find that each tool is built with the quality and features that can only be accomplished with a narrow focus. For this reason, we feel that the best way to implement the highest quality IT platform for a business is through integration technologies.
The stories we hear describe varied starting points, but usually paint the same picture. For example, a customer may have started with the idea that they need to get a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) to keep track of their donors and details about each donor. As they begin their due diligence, they realize that there are a lot of things that they need to consider:
- Does the CRM provide a way to capture customer interests, track funds and FMV (Fair Market Value) data?
- Does it provide a way to create simple web pages that take donations or sell products?
- Does it work with the current accounting, inventory, or other systems?
- What special features does one CRM offer over another?
- Does the CRM track donations and recurring donations or does it stop at contact and contact communication?
- What analytical and reporting tools are part of the CRM?
- How does the CRM handle marketing campaign references?
Each software package that you buy claiming to be an all-in-one solution, will inevitably fall short in the areas that are not part of its core purpose. For example, a CRM with a bulk email module that allows you to send out email blasts will be able to handle the tie between email campaigns and donors, but will surely lack the robust features of a specialized email marketing service. Another example might be a CRM that can provide simple landing pages for promotions and donations. These landing pages are easy to create since they have access to the CRM data and you can simply type in some text and publish the page. Inevitably, the pages lack depth and content that shows constituents the legitimacy of the institution. These limitations show how having the features you need in your CMS based website, CRM, accounting system and marketing tools are far more important than keeping it all in one system.
So, if you have all of the best fitting solutions, they will lack the ability to work together. This is where integration technologies come in to play. Integration bridges the gap between systems allowing each to be a source of record for their domain data while sharing that data with the other systems. Typically, when a company realizes that they need this type of technology, it comes from spending too many resources on entering data multiple times, correlating data from multiple systems into spreadsheets or reports manually, or simply duplicating data and having to cope with inaccuracies between systems.
Knowing you need integration is the first step and it usually ends with a large price tag. Most vendors that sell large software systems will tell you that it can do anything and then sell you professional services for integration at a high rate. They know that you need your systems to talk to each other and there is not a lot of options for making it happen. This is the conundrum that most businesses face. Spend too much money trying to get good systems that talk to each other or use sub-par tools to compete in the marketplace.
At nKind, our mission is to provide a simple and inexpensive platform to enable non-profit organizations to help people around the world. Our passion is this technological support for those who do good works. We provide an integration framework, for getting systems to talk to each other, that is based on popular CMS website platforms. Our current CMS of choice is Umbraco. We then provide integration to popular CRM systems, marketing tools, accounting packages, social media networks, analytic tools and transaction providers. This approach allows small organizations to start with little investment by using simple built-in tools and swapping to more robust tools as they grow. nKind can even adapt to new systems through its unique integration layer which allows for ease of development for connections to new and even custom systems.
We never stop building the nKind platform. As customers ask for new features or integration, we build them in. If that integration is to a standard system, then it will become available for all to use. Proprietary systems integration can also be built on nKind to accomplish your goals as needed.