For small businesses one of modern life’s great debates is whether to integrate ‘off the shelf’ systems or to put up with the cost and annoyance of keeping them separate. Software is expensive, bespoking software is very expensive and once you have bespoked it there is a legacy of keeping it up to date. ‘Off the shelf’ packages are great if they do exactly what you want, but if they don’t then there is a compromise to be made. These packages are often not integrated, unless they are made by the same company. To provide some back ground on this question we must look at the pros and cons of both actions.

Argument not to integrate software packages yourself:

• The cost of a development to integrate different software – this is an open ended liability and could be a lot more than first thought

• If the ‘of the shelf’ software is upgraded, this could cause How to construct great arguments problems with the integration software or stop it working completely. There will be an on-going need to for new development to keep the integration working

• Your business model may change requiring subsequent new types of software that will also need integrating

Argument for bespoke integration of software packages:

• Single data set – stops multiple entry of the same data on to different systems and keeps all information up to date

• Common log in – no need to type passwords in to lots of different systems

• Reduces the cost of administration – no need to have people entering the same data all the time

• Shared knowledge – information entered by one person is available to everyone