Interfacing Specialists

What is an Interface Specialist?

As Interface Specialists we can make your systems talk to one another. We provide small programs which link separate systems and automate time consuming admin tasks. 

For example, typically it takes ten to fifteen minutes to manually copy data from an email order, and create a supplier and invoice. We can provide a program which automates the work, meaning an supplier and invoice are in less than a minute, and keeping you in control of each step. We do not hold any data, as it disappears once the transaction is completed.   

We develop custom interface program development for as little as you pay for an engineer to fix a leaky tap at home!

Get in contact now via our contact page

What interfaces have you created already?

We have created numerous interfaces in the past.

What is an Interface?

At its simplest, an interface is how humans interact with stuff, like the switch on a kettle or a keyboard & mouse.

You will probably be using an interface to see this web page via a browser or a mobile app - these too are interfaces. Your computer and phone have apps which allow you to interact with a website, finance or booking system all typically have one interface or another.

At the next level, you may want to edit your own website, such as through the Wordpress Admin 'Interface', or update your facebook, these are also interfaces at the next level in.  

What are APIs? 

API's are interfaces which are used by computer programs - hence an interface at deeper level.

Often software/cloud providers make access to your account on their system available via API's - Application Programming Interfaces. These provide limited programming access inside their system for your account. You are provided an access key of some kind, so you can have another system talk to theirs via an 'Inteface Program' in a secure standard way. For example, banks provide an API to validate sort and account numbers, which you can use to check details as they are entered into a system. I have added this to Oracle EBS Payments and Payroll forms in the past. 

Can I use an API directly? 

Sometimes, it depends on the API design, but often no, it is pretty ugly for humans, but great for computer programs. You need another piece of software in between, an Interface Program to make use of an API. You can code it yourself or contact us for an initial chat - contact us

What are Interface Programs?

Interface Programs are computer programs which take data from one system and put it in another. Such as taking details of a customer order from an email and creating a customer and invoice in your accounts package. They are usually written in a one or more programming languages as different systems use different languages and output formats - usually via multiple APIs in each source or target system.

Are Interface Programs and API's the same?

Well, not really, system providers give limited access to your account inside their system via an API. An Interface Program sits between them and handles a transaction so that it is reformatted for the other. API's are for computer programs. Interface Programs are for humans to use or run as batch programs sometime generating some outputs, such as a success/error report.

There are occassions where you may think of them as the same, but they are separate. For instance, both Kashflow and Paypal provide API's. Kashflow have provide an Paypal Interface Program which uses both the Kashflow API and Paypal API to extract sales and purchase data and create invoices in their accounting package.

However, typically, you may not find an Interface Program which suits your needs. systems may each have an API, but do not necessarily talk to each other because of this. This is where an Interface Program is needed. This is custom code you need to write to get the two API's to work together - and this is one area where we can help you.  

What Interfaces Programs exist already?

There are any number of systems, and they all have their own interface in one format or another. They may follow API standards, but there are many standards and formats for data exchange.

A few systems have very easy "point and click" mature interface capabilities, which are easy to use for someone who may have setup their own wordpress site or accounting system such as QuickFile. There are some specialist services, which host predefined interface programmes, and these tend to be a little expensive or do not exactly match your needs. 

Others are complicated and fiddly to use, and need programming skills to drive them, such as the big ones like Oracle EBS and SAP which are an Enterprise Resource Planning systems used by very big corporations, these have interfaces but usually need a team of programmers to use effectively.  

A lot of systems have no defined interfaces for specific uses. This does not mean it cannot be done. There is always a way. It can be as simple as taking an email notification and reading the data from that to push date from one system to the next. We have done this kind of bespoke interface. 

How do you create an Interface Program? 

First we need to look at your source and a target systems, and the API or other outputs they may provide. We need to find out the formats and programming languages needed to exchange data. Once we have that overview, we can look at different approaches. We also need to know a little about how accounting works, so we need to make sure that the VAT and Account Coding is done correctly, and we want to avoid duplicating invoices, for example.  

How can Interface Programs help you? 

As a start up you possibly create an invoice once or twice a week, which is easy an manageable. However, when your business picks up, you may reach ten orders per day, which then becomes an admin task. So instead of being on the road making more sales, you become tied to the computer, processing all those orders into your finance system. You end up doing it at night, missing the kids or that camping trip gets put off. 

This is where Custom Interface Programs become helpful. Instead of you having to check if a customer exists, create one, select it and check for an existing invoice, the program automates most of this for you. Creating an invoice, can be fully automated or can be a couple of steps, if you want or need to validate data as it comes through (typically we recommend you start here). Ten to fifteen invoices may take 15 minutes or less instead of a couple of hours.  

What does an Interface Program look like?

Depending on the situation, to begin with, it will be a custom form which stands alone or is added as a plugin into your favorite website content management system (e.g. wordpress or e107). 

It typically does most of the boring work for you, finding and extracting the data, and interrogating your target system to see if a customer or invoice record exists, and if you want, ask you to proceed with creation. It may present you with questions when there is a problem or decision to be made, such as poorly formed address details, often given in the order. 

You can as your confidence in your data increases, you can move to a fully automated program which requires you only to check for errors in some page or report somewhere.  

Where can you get an Interface Program?

Many online systems provide Interface Programs for specific uses, but often they are generic and may not cover your needs precisely, such as missing out key data from the order, such as the name of the product or course name and attendee making a booking. They may cover orders which come through paypal, but what if they ask to pay on the day or request an invoice, then these do not go through Paypal, so need manual administration. 

What about my Data Footprint (GDPR / data protection)? 

We write the program code so that it is held temporarily whilst you process each invoice or other transaction. We do not save any data, once we have used the data, it remains in the source and target system, so no extra data need be created anywhere. Once you finish with a transaction the program destroys the interface data. 

Can you run the process for me?

We can as part of our book-keeping offerings, one partner is a part qualified accountant. The other has 25 years experience in scientific and business programming. We have current basic security clearances. Get in contact now via our contact page.  

How much would it cost? 

For custom interface development and book-keeping services, we charge about the same or less than someone who fixes your tap or boiler at home. We may have some code which could be used, so we will re-use it, wherever possible, depending on the complexity of your requirements and processes. Custom developments can take a few weeks to design build and test. We could save you several hours per week just on a handful of invoices! Get in contact now via our contact page

As we grow we aim to be at a stage where we can offer some interfaces as a service.  

Where do you work and what will you need from us?

We work with clients all over the UK, remotely from Swansea. We communicate via the usual massaging channels such as skype or any other preferred communications method. We provide a log of the work activity on a daily basis and a timesheet for your review. We share updates on email regularly and require your feedback during the process.

We typically need sample data to work with and can usually get a sandbox instance for dev and testing source and target systems. We may need your access to part of your systems so that we can grab the data we need such as your account codes and for installation purposes. 

We provide suitable non-disclosure agreements and the like.  

Get in contact now via our contact page