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Knowledge is the most valuable assets for a small-to-medium software enterprise (SMSE). Effective use of external knowledge is significantly helpful for SMSE to improve their competitive capacity. This paper firstly presents an overview of external knowledge integration (EKI) that is the process by which organizations identify, acquire and utilize knowledge from their environment. We carried on a questionnaire survey in such aspects as EKI agent, external knowledge requirements, external knowledge acquiring methods and external knowledge application methods of the selected 216 SMSEs. And the results showed that (1) 'software technology updates', 'enterprise sales', and 'CRM requirements' are three main motivities for SMSE to carry on EKI; (2) 'software design', 'software requirements', and 'knowledge about customers' are the most needed external knowledge for SMSE; (3) 'People transfer', 'written form' are the most important external knowledge acquiring methods; (4) Application and storage is the main method for SMSE to make use of external knowledge.