What System Integrations Are All About

What System Integrations Are All About
Wright Studio/Shutterstock
Summary: When looking for a new LMS, or any other piece of software, we start by checking integration possibilities. Whether it's Zoom, Google Calendar, or Slack, we want our purchase to work with our existing software ecosystem.

...And Why Every Integration Is Different

Integration between two software is like a phone call, it connects them and allows them to communicate. While talking, the systems, just like us (humans), exchange information. Like any type of communication, integration can be one-sided or mutual. In the case of one-sided communication, only one person, or software, is talking (i.e., sending data), and the other side is simply a receiver. For communication to be effective it should be mutual. In this case, both sides send and receive information.

Why Do I Want eLearning Software Integration?

The main advantage of all software integration is that they save you time, a lot of it. We are speaking of the time you’d need to use on manual data gathering and migration. As an example, let’s have a look at the recruitment process. Once it is successfully completed, all the data about the new employee, until now stored in the recruitment database, needs to be sent to onboarding, HR, and training systems. Without integration this would require entering the recruitment platform, exporting the employee’s data, adjusting the data format if necessary, then entering each of the other systems and importing the information—each time calibrating the data or formatting it so that the import doesn’t end up requiring you to enter all the information manually. With the right integration, however, the data could be automatically sent to the onboarding, HR, and training systems, giving you time to concentrate on other aspects of your job.

Another example of an integration is SSO, or Single Sign-On. Without it, you need to remember different logins and passwords to every single system that you use at work—sometimes that can be five or more platforms you need to launch when starting your working day. With SSO, you enter your login and password only once and gain immediate access to all the software that you use on a daily basis.

Can All Systems Be Integrated As Easily?

Can you talk to someone on the phone when they are not answering? Nope, and the same goes for integration. It is not possible to connect with a system that won’t open up to us. Some systems, especially open-source ones, are extroverted and happy to chat with literally anybody. Others, however, are introverted and very picky about who they talk to. Some software providers, before giving access to their system’s API, require the fulfilling of some special conditions. Sometimes it’s going through a strict recruitment process that, if completed successfully, ends with becoming an official partner. Other companies require payment, which is especially true for major market players.

Why Can’t This Particular Action Be Performed On An Integrated System?

Communication between software systems may be compared to a human phone call, but it is definitely not as spontaneous. When you’re a software, you can only talk on the subjects previously planned by the programmers working on the integration. This means that all the actions you want to perform after the integration need to be thought through and written down before any development work starts.

Do I Need To Change The LMS If I Need An Integration With A System Not On Offer?

While some LMS providers offer a closed list of integrations with predetermined actions, others are happy to adjust particular integrations to your needs or even create them from scratch. This openness to custom development is definitely worth noting when choosing your software provider.

Can Two LMS Systems Be Integrated?

You can integrate anything and everything as long as both systems have an available API or their providers are eager to prepare one. In case of an already existing API, you need to make sure that the actions permitted are actually those that you require.

When making any choice in general (and when making a choice involving thousands of dollars in particular), it’s worth understanding the factors influencing our decision. Then, while making the choice, I often find that questions that we think might be perceived as silly or ignorant are actually the ones that help us get to the bottom of a matter and deepen our understanding. So don’t be afraid to ask, and please let me know if there are still questions relating to integration that I haven’t answered.

Editor's Note: Take a look at our online directory to find, choose, and compare Top LMS Software!