Businesses that use a wide range of software for different processes often find that there’s some kind of intersection between two or more of these subsystems.
This often signals a need for a software integration, which would eventually allow these disparate software systems to work together.
There are numerous ways to go about this but in some cases, the best approach is a bi-directional software integration.
What does bi-directional mean in this case?
When two software systems (A & B) have been integrated in a bi-directional manner, it means that software A can cooperate with software B and vice versa.
From a much simpler perspective, this may be known to some as synchronization, where changes made in one system are also reflected in the other.
How is bi-directional software integration beneficial to a business?
Reduction in errors – Bi-directional software integration eliminates the need to manually re-enter data into various systems through their respective interfaces. This reduces the likelihood of having contradictory data within your systems and needing to go back and comb through it.
Increased efficiency – Since business staff don’t have to repeat the same data entry tasks for each software, this time can be spent on things like deeper analysis to discover correlations, along with other tasks that result in a better understanding of problems and the best way to solve them.
Improved customer experience – With bi-directional software integration, you have less scenarios where an employee is trying to check a different system for a more up-to-date version of customer information.
This is particularly crucial when offering customer support in real-time whether on phone or via text-based chat. Staff will have all the most recent changes at their fingertips and therefore be able to assist customers quickly and effectively.
Bi-directional tools and functionality
In the case of HubSpot, there are a number of tools that in one way or another, facilitate bi-directional integration. These include PieSync, Formstack, SyncPenguin etc.
It is important to understand how these tools work otherwise you might opt for alternatives that don’t necessarily offer two-way synchronization after being misled by a general description of what they do.
For starters, some of these tools offer different modes of bi-directional integration such as pre-designed connectors, a request for a new integration, or an option to develop your own.
Additionally, some tools simply push data from the source, such as a web form, to the destination, say a CRM, without understanding it or taking note of data models.
This can result in unintended overwriting or transformations that aren’t consistent with the nature of data in another application.
It is also important to opt for bi-directional solutions that provide ample testing, logging, debugging and monitoring to ensure that the two-flow doesn’t break.
Some bi-directional solutions utilize webhooks and polling frameworks to stay up-to-date on any changes within applications that they cooperate with.
If your business operations often involve making changes to things like the number of fields on a form or the unit of measurement of a particular variable, you might want to pay more attention to how different bi-directional solutions work.
This will enable you to pick one that leaves no room for incoherent records.