By Lindsay Baillie
Technology can be confusing, especially when you look at the nitty gritty of what makes up a software program. A lot of pieces go into creating a program that has the ultimate goal of making the software user’s life easier. One specific component of flooring software designed to streamline business processes is system integration.
According to Chad Ogden, president, QFloors, there are three types of system integrations available. The first is called proprietary, which involves two developers from different companies working together to decide how they are going to exchange information.
The second is B2B. For this type of integration, Ogden explained, the developers do not have to get together there are set agreements on how everything will be transferred. “If everybody plays by the rules things can be transferred without developers getting together,” he said. “This means, if I do it right then I can have 10 different manufacturers or suppliers do their end, and I don’t have to communicate directly with any of them. Typically, this kind of integration follows what’s called an industry standard, which is fcB2B for the flooring industry.”
The third type of integration is application program interface (API), which allows for the public sharing of information.
Why do these three types of integration matter? Experts say fully integrated software systems allow dealers to run their businesses with more efficiency. “Systems that are not integrated typically require double data entry, additional software training and are typically more expensive to operate and maintain in the long term,” said Alex Aya, vice president, Comp-U-Floor.
When it comes to business software, one point of entry is crucial for reducing human errors. “Knowing the information being entered in one place has ‘invisibly’ updated related modules creates genuine security that only comes from the certainty that the data is both correct and complete,” said Maria Cauchon, media services director, sales and marketing, RFMS. “Productivity is increased because integration eliminates many manual, repetitive data entry tasks.”
Integration also helps to keep business processes streamlined. As Kelly Oechslin, marketing coordinator, RollMaster, explained, “It brings together all relevant business data into one place and then allows for that data to flow through to every single daily flooring business process in real time and with 24-hour/7-days-a-week/365-days access from anywhere with an Internet connection.”
Due to the benefits of integration, many software manufacturers have created different features that integrate with other programs and companies. Following are the various integrations several of the top flooring software manufacturers have to offer.
American Business Software (ABS)
The modules of ABS’s FloorPro ERP system are fully integrated for a more user-friendly experience for the retailer. “For example, when a user receives inventory, this information automatically updates inventory quantities and flags any open orders that require this material,” Joseph Flannick, president, explained. “Inventory available for sale is automatically reduced when a new order is placed. Inventory is removed from the system when it is invoiced, and sales information is automatically generated accordingly. The inventory value can be obtained easily with the click of a button.”
Comp-U-Floor offers API integration with MeasureSquare, Retail Lead Management and Pensoft. What’s more, its subcontractor payroll is built into its software.
Other integrations include the company’s Google Calendar interface. “Our Mobile App will allow installers to receive job alerts and tell them how to get to the jobsite and monitor the progress, updating the software in real time as they add photos or change the job status,” Aya noted. “Also, office staff can monitor the installation process and decide when to invoice the customer.”
Comp-U-Floor’s fcB2B interface is another integration that allows for the automation of purchase orders to go directly to the vendors.
CZNTech Pricing has the ability to integrate hundreds of pricing documents into its robust database, according to Cindy Trocciola, CEO. To do this, the software uploads the documents with CZNTech’s Import Mapping functionality.
“This technology allows you to obtain the latest pricing from your vendors and add your mar- gin for an unlimited number of price levels with the click of a button,” Trocciola explained. “We also provide integration back out of the system that can be utilized for most of the popular flooring software programs currently on the market.”
CZNTech Pricing also automates the creation of salesperson spreadsheets so dealers can give detailed pricing information to sales staff.
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MeasureSquare provides open APIs for third-party programs to integrate with MeasureSquare Commercial Takeoff software, On-site Measure Mobile App and web-based flooring calculators.
“MeasureSquare Commercial Takeoff software and on-site mobile App help estimators to create accurate estimates of materials and labor charges with the digitized floor plans,” said Ariel Fu, vice president of operations. “Dealers can click on a button in their CRM or ERP system to import floor plans and estimation data and create bids or proposals for their customers.”
According to Fu, the flooring calculator assists with lead generation and conversion. The calculator is embedded in a dealer’s website, and when a prospective customer clicks on a product he or she can create a floor plan and determine the quantity of product needed.
Nivben’s Premium Flooring Estimator 2040 integrates with GTCO Rollup III to trace blueprint drawing to establish floor patterns for estimates. What’s more, according to Dennis Benton, president, it runs with PDF Take-Off Software to upload architectural drawings as PDFs and automatically establish quantities of flooring.
Pacific Solutions offers a host of integrated programs for both commercial and residential flooring. Job Runner is the company’s project management software for commercial flooring contractors, while FloorManager is its business management software for residential flooring. Pacific Solutions also offers FloorRight Commercial and FloorRight Professional, which are estimating and takeoff software programs for the specified contract sector and residential flooring industry, respectively. The company offers field measuring software called SiteDraw as well as its Data Back Service.
All of RFMS’ modules are integrated in multiple ways for different scenarios. As Cauchon explained: “The integration starts with the initial contact with the customer, the on-site measure or takeoff and goes all the way to the final posting to the general ledger over in the accounting module. The product data files start from the ecommerce module that imports manufacturer/mill data files and is automatically populated for use by multiple RFMS modules, thereby eliminating the need to use external product sources such as spreadsheets.”
The core RollMaster system is fully integrated from measuring and estimating services to financial reporting and sales analysis. What’s more, the system is integrated via its open API with various marketing and business applications.
“Some of our most popular are Testimonial Tree for increasing online reviews; ChargeItPro/ Gravity for credit card processing and vaulting; and Tableau for converting sales analysis data into easy to read charts and graphs,” Oechslin explained. “One recent integration we’ve made a part of the core system is Language Translation on all our customer-facing documents, as well as work orders and purchase orders. We are currently at 12 languages and counting.”
QFloors utilizes proprietary and B2B integrations, while QPro is more focused on B2B and API. As Ogden explained: “QFloors currently has different kinds of integrations with a lot of different companies: Measure Square; Heartland, which is a credit card processing company; and Podium, which is a customer referral company. Retail Lead Management also has an integration with us, and we have a payroll integration.”
These system integrations are intended to positively impact the user’s experience. “These integrations will allow users to have access to other software products that companies like QFloors are not experts in,” Ogden added. “For example, we are not experts in estimation tools like MeasureSquare. We are not experts in payroll processing like some of our partners. We are not experts in customer referrals like Podium.”