Computery stuff. Integration. Platforms. WTF? Who and what do I ask for?

So, your humble remodeler, fisha, has a problem. Part of my problem is I don’t know the correct words or ideas to even ask for help.

I am going to be integrating several completely different programs to provide an online service. I am completely our of my depth. My SEO website people recommended DataArt, My website people were scared and ran away.

I don’t know DataArt, but I do know there are a bunch of smart computer nerds here. If you can’t get my business yourself, you can refer me to someone else who can get the job done.

I’ve got a pretty good workflow to go off of, and clarity of what needs to happen.

Ideas? Recommendations? How do I even go about accomplishing this, other than having the checkbook?

I’m not knowledgeable about this, but those who are might benefit from stating in however small a way, what it is you wish to accomplish.

Determining what’s going to be required is highly dependent on how amenable the disparate systems are to communicating with one another. If the different systems have APIs and/or good documentation, it will be relatively easy; if not, you may be looking at needing to reverse-engineer communication protocols.

You’re just fucking with me now, aren’t you?

On a more serious note, it is integrating with an online service who should be amenable. This service has integrated with other companies previously. A financing and/or payment system, an in house network of providers, calendar, contract forms, notifications.

This isn’t an easy project, but technology has caught up, it is doable.

If you’re completely out of your depth, how do you know it’s doable?

OK, integrating with an online service seems like it should be relatively simple, as it’s for what they’re built. Unfortunately, as many have discovered (including myself), the actual systems integration can be far more involved than the provider lets on, because they’re providing a generalized experience which may not necessarily fit with your existing systems’ architecture. Big SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies (e.g., Salesforce, Netsuite) usually require a bunch of work to do the actual integration with your end, and there are a ton of consultants out there making bank doing these sorts of integrations.

Engaging a general IT consulting house like that in your OP is a good chance to get some sort of idea of the scope of the project, not only in time but in money. If you say you have a good workflow defined, you’re already heading in the right direction. Unfortunately all of this type of work I’ve done has all been for my employers, so I have no visibility into the costs involved. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it’s a fairly hefty sum.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life it’s that if you throw enough time, manpower, stubbornness and money at something, you can get it done.

Technology, and actually more importantly, the general public/consumers, have caught up to making this work.

The service isn’t a salesforce type service, it is a very narrow type that provides specific technology, but has integrated with a multitude of additional services provided by other companies.
Something similar would be a data house of Ford truck parts. They’ve got all the information of all Ford trucks that were ever built, and all the parts. Their program is integrated with your local dealer and mechanics. They need to take money, arrange delivery, etc. Then can send diagrams of the parts, etc. A better analogy would be if a customer would order the part, and it would be coordinated locally through the mechanic to be installed.

Doable is too low a standard. You’ll need to talk to, and probably pay a computer professional to look closely at each of the components you want to integrate and give you some idea of how much time, manpower, stubbornness and money will be required. I’ll guess that if your website people were scared and ran away that it’s a bigger project than you are anticipating.

Thanks for all the replies. I realized I am asking the wrong question.

The question should be

How do I find the right company to accomplish this? What do I look for? How can I tell they’re capable? I know this isn’t an easy project that any old run of the mill company can do. What pertinent questions should I ask?

I have plenty of contacts, resources that can refer me to a company, but have no experience to determine their qualifications.

To get the best answer, we’ll need the best data, so unless there’s a specific reason not to share the information…

Exactly what data do you have or need access to. And what are you trying to get out of it.

Let’s work with the Ford truck parts example again.

Chickpea Co.has cornered the market on all Ford truck parts information. They dominate the industry and have bullied any competitors out if the market. They are the default.

They will sell the part info to dealers, backyard mechanics, pro mechanics. They have also worked out partnerships with complimentary companies for the companies to manufacture parts. Chickpea is making money on the proprietary info, they don’t care what you do with it. I’m assuming (perhaps incorrectly) that because they’ve had multiple integrations with different vendors and manufacturers that they’ve got some of the incompatibility kinks worked out. They also realize that the easier it is to get their information, the more they’ll sell.

I want to be the facilitator.

I want an end user to be looking for a 1962 Ford truck distributor cap in a cherry red, find my website, order and pay for the part and installation, get the specs from Chickpea, Co., schedule and have the local mechanic install the part.

Chickpea, Co. exists. The specs exist and are accurate for the mechanics to go off of. Payment methods exist. Scheduling software exists. Customers are now comfortable enough to buy a special, expensive part online. Plus they don’t have the time nor inclination to hunt for the specific part. They’d rather just hit the “buy now” button.I’ve got a network of mechanics that are reputable and would like additional work.

I’ve got to make all these moving parts work together.

Is that clearer?

Is Chickpea an actual company? ‘Payment methods’ and ‘Scheduling software’ are not exact specifications. Using your example is like saying distributors exist how do I take a random distributor and make it work in some unspecified truck. Are you looking for someone to find these software components for you to use?

Chickpea Co. exists. Payment methods would be the typical credit card with a quick approval financing option. (Two integrations there) Scheduling software would be integrated with the mechanics. We can name specific companies for these tasks, PayPal, Square, GE Capital, Enerbank, Schedulicity, Genbook or their equivalents. Those pieces can be determined for ease of integration, utility at a later point.

I get how hard this is, you should see the workflow chart.

I’ve got really competent people working for me now, and I appreciate their candid response that this is too much for them. Not one has said this is impossible, it’s just beyond their expertise.

So, how do I find someone who can get it done? What questions should I ask?

Those company names and your workflow chart are sufficient for a business to bid on doing this for you. It’s a major project because of the number of pieces involved. Did you check with DataArt? Google ‘Custom Software Development’ and let the companies bid on this.

Missed the edit window:
Those company names and your workflow chart are sufficient for a business to bid on doing this for you. It’s a major project because of the number of pieces involved. Did you check with DataArt? Google ‘Custom Software Development’ and let the companies bid on this. You’ll have to provide them more details but if they can’t get a pretty good idea of what’s needed from that information you’re talking to the wrong companies. You want to deal with a company that has experience with those or equivalent services already. Good luck with this.