Low-code/no-code automation is accelerating the accessibility of automation, allowing businesses to build and deploy automated processes with little or no coding required. It means that even the biggest technophobes among us can benefit from the transformative power of automation.
Whilst this software is hugely exciting, there are limitations. For businesses with more complex requirements, this sort of software may not fit the bill.
In this blog, we’ll be highlighting two popular integration software solutions and exploring the benefits of each.
Remember: the key to getting the most out of automation is identifying what your specific needs are and which software would best support them.
Why is integration software important?
You may remember in my last blog I geeked out a little over APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), but as a reminder – an API essentially acts as a bridge that enables the flow of data between two pieces of software.
This is handy because most businesses have more than one software necessary for the business to run efficiently and at its best. For example, we might be using a CRM like Keap for our sales and marketing. If Keap generates a sale, we likely want to log that purchase. We could then use proposal software like Pandadoc, and create an invoice in our accounts software, like Xero.
This requires details to be passed from one software to another – but it doesn’t have to be done manually. In fact, doing so increases the risk of error and decreases speed. For it to happen automatically, the different pieces of software need to be able to “talk to one another”. Integration tools allow this communication to take place.
In recent years developers have created specific tools designed to make these integrations easier and more effective. One of the most popular tools today is Zapier.
For simple requirements: Zapier
Zapier has a fantastic interface that makes automating business processes incredibly simple. No coding knowledge is required – and in fact, very little tech aptitude is necessary either!
Using Zapier, we can connect two or more software applications and it will automatically create a flow or a pathway, passing said data from one platform to another of our choice.
Zapier works by having pre-configured integration points that are easily customisable. A standard business flow might aim to go from A to B to C. For example, if our business is coaching, we might simply require an automation that connects our scheduling tool to our calendar, and then copies the relevant contact and events data into our CRM.
Zapier is great for this sort of straightforward pathway, but there are a number of different levels we can use it at. At the basic level, it enables us to simply and neatly pass data from one software to another. For instance, contact details could be transferred from a Facebook lead form into our CRM’s sales pipeline. Nice and easy!
We can start getting more advanced with logical paths and conditions. The technophobes among us needn’t be concerned – Zapier has made it incredibly easy to input these customisations. It’s a great example of a low-code/no-code automation tool that has made the power of automation accessible to all.
An example of a pathway in Zapier might look like this:
For more complex requirements: Make
Make could be described as the “next level” of Zapier. It enables us to configure our automations to work at a deeper integration level. We can build more complex workflows with enhanced steps and conditions.
For example, whilst Zapier is great for linear, straightforward instructions and flows (and some simple branches/paths), if our business requires multiple paths and logic, Make is better equipped to answer our automation needs.
Surprisingly, Make actually works out cheaper than Zapier. Pricing is based on how many different commands are going through the server, and it becomes more affordable when the business is running a lot of tasks.
When we consider how many “tasks” (which includes notifications and updates) are passed down the line every single day in our businesses, this could equal thousands of “tasks” a day! However, businesses who choose this software should be prepared to spend more time on set-up and should be confident in their technical expertise – or that of a third party – to get everything working smoothly. Businesses who choose Zapier can expect to log in and have everything up and running in less than an hour!
To summarise: if your automations don’t need to be customised and complex, Zapier is the way to go. Once you start to outgrow this and require more complex situations, Make offers more flexibility.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should
I recently wrote a blog about the four common automation mistakes businesses make. The key theme, inspired by Jurassic Park’s legendary Jeff Goldblum, was: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
It’s so important that we take the time to understand our business processes, consider our budget and output, and explore available software to identify which will best answer our needs.
It’s all well and good to Google “automation integration software” and click on the first one with good reviews, but how do we know it’s right for our requirements?
What if its capabilities are too complex for what we need – or not complex enough?
This is where many businesses go wrong with automation and often end up feeling disappointed or overwhelmed. They likely haven’t taken the time to consider what is right for them. That’s where this blog comes in!
If you’d like a more detailed understanding of where automation can best benefit your business and which software is right for you, hop on a free discovery call with The Business Catalyst. We’d love to help you identify the software solutions that will work best for your unique business.