Software as a Service (SaaS) is today’s current trend. There are a multitude of reasons behind the quick adoption of SaaS:
-Users want the latest and greatest features.
-IT departments are stretched thinner and thinner.
-Software is becoming increasingly complex and requires more expertise to configure and maintain.
-Large capital expenditures are harder to budget for than upfront recurring fees.
-Updates happen transparently and require little to no business/user interaction.
Whatever your reason behind embracing the cloud may be, it does come with its own set of downfalls. In the past, businesses worked towards all-encompassing software solutions that could manage their entire organization from back office to front office. What we are seeing now is each department finding a SaaS solution that fits their needs. HR will find an applicant tracking application or a benefits management application or even a payroll application. Purchasing will have an EDI and warehouse platform. Sales will have a CRM and invoicing solution. Each group in your organization can find a SaaS solution that best fits their needs. They are happy. IT is happy because they don’t have to maintain and troubleshoot applications they’ve never seen. Your CXOs are happy because they no longer have large looming capital expenditures to update servers and upgrade applications. Everything seems great.
The downfall of this setup is getting each SaaS solution talk to the other application or even an on-premise application. We get it – your payroll numbers need to flow down to accounting, things you sell need to be purchased for stocking, expenses need to be reimbursed through accounts payable and tracked to the appropriate department’s budget, your CXOs want to see dashboards in Power BI or Tableau based on your financial information. We’ve seen this handled a multitude of ways:
Your IT department / IT Provider meets with some people in your organization and they explain what two systems they want to integrate or talk to each other and what specifically they are looking for out of this. This meeting spawns an email chain / google search / phone call with each SaaS vendor. Each SaaS vendor has never heard of the other product, or has heard of it in name only, and has no integration solution. They offer something called an API that has samples published on something called Github. Everyone is left scratching their heads. Other times they offer a CSV file dump that needs to be imported into the other SaaS solution which talks about needing the CSV file in a different format. Now your IT department / provider is writing code / excel macros to get the systems to talk to each other. In the end you get something that somewhat works but no one knows how or why and if anything changes it can all come crashing down. Did we mention that SaaS platforms are notorious for updating their applications on a very regular basis?
SaaS product A has an existing integration with SaaS product B. They tell you that they need you to enter some information on a page in their application and “flip a switch” and everything will work. You do all that is asked of you and things start working as prescribed. You show your CXOs. All the directors and heads of your business are happy. However, a few weeks later it all stops. Emails to the SaaS vendors go back and forth. Neither vendor wants to take credit for the problem. You have no error logs you can look through. Nothing is working and no one can tell you why. The integration you started to depend on has died an no one can tell you why. After a week or two of limping along and hiring temp staff to help with the data entry, one of the SaaS vendors gets back with you to let you know that they no longer support integrating with the other SaaS product and you will need to create something on your own. You are now back to Scenario A.
You contact the experts at Associates Solutions. We talk with the department principals and the key business principals and figure out what you are wanting to integrate. We talk with the SaaS vendors. We are told about the API and the samples on Github. We get our developers to pour over the samples and the API documentation and figure out what it will take to make this happen. We present you with Statement of Work for the project and begin work once everything is agreed upon. We get the two (or three or four) systems talking. If we run into a problem in a week or a month we have logs that we can use to determine a problem and fix it. If we are presented with nothing better than a CSV file, we can modify it and transform it any way possible to get it into another system. In the end, we will get the systems talking to each other, document it, train your people on how to troubleshoot / change settings / manage the integration.
If you like the sound of Scenario C, give us a call or shoot us an email. We would be happy to assist you. There are a multitude of tools out there to handle this new world of SaaS. There are old school tools like SQL Server Integration Services and Scribe. There are also new tools out there like Scribe Online, Microsoft Flow, Workato, and many more. We have developers on staff to translate documentation and APIs as well as some of the best experts out there when it comes to integrating multiple systems together.