There are so many iPaaS vendors at the market it can be overwhelming to find the right partner for your integration needs. After all, all integration projects are different and you will need to find the one that is the most suitable for your organization’s requirements.
This blog is exploring some of the key factors decision makers need to take into consideration when they are looking for an integration platform that can handle any complex integration scenarios.
1. Define your data integration strategy
Before you would do anything else, get the right team together and define your data integration strategy. You need to be able to define in a short sentence that why you need integrations what you want to achieve with it.
For example, if your company is acquiring others, you may want to ensure that the systems are communicating with each other in real-time and you have visibility over all business-critical information. Maybe you need to do it because you may want to have a 360 view on customers to ensure that you provide outstanding customer experience or simply you just want to ensure that your supply chain is working flawlessly, all shipments are on time, and you are aware of the situation all the time.
We have written before about how essential a data integration strategy is for enterprises and we cannot emphasize it enough. As part of the plan, you want to focus on the following areas:
Do you need to connect with your trading partners? If your answer is yes, make sure to plan it. You may have a very extensive ecosystem and you may need hundreds of connections. This is a daunting task that cannot be neglected. It’s the best to start out small – choose one or a few integrations to begin with and strategically plan how you are going to move forward.
It’s good to have an initial plan, but later on, you may want to include your integration vendor’s architects in the planning, so the process happens as seamlessly as it possible.
This is highly correlated with B2B integrations – the only difference is that you may also want to create connections internally.
Integrating systems and applications is normally a challenge. Many enterprises are still using legacy systems. Due to the architecture of these solutions, building integration across them is not an easy task. Another challenge is that some applications and software are already operating on top of the cloud. That cannot be an excuse though for lack of synchronization between systems, your iPaaS vendor needs to be able to overcome this challenge, too.
Hybrid integration platform
Here comes the hybrid integration platform into the picture. Today, it’s crucial for B2B and system integrations to find an integration platform provider whose product is also a hybrid integration platform. This will ensure that you will be able to connect with all your stakeholders whether they are using legacy technologies or cloud-based applications.
You can find more information on hybrid integrations in some of our previous blogs, however, if there is the only one you check out, be sure it’s the one called Hybrid Integration Warfare.
Data is your most valuable asset, so share it wisely! You want to ensure that business-critical information is flowing through your connections in real-time and with no downtimes. Additionally, you also want to ensure that you receive data from your trading partners in your preferred format.
Here, you must think about what data formats your systems are using, what formats your partners are using, and how to make sense of heterogeneous data. Nevertheless, you cannot neglect security. It’s important to ensure that only the right stakeholders will get a hold of certain information.
The messages that you receive may also include errors or false data field – your solution provider need to be able to provide you help with validating the data, and if necessary, also with enriching it.
If you want to automate certain processes, look no further, iPaaS is the tool for you. In this case, it’s worth to start with a project that is currently eating up a lot of your efficiencies due to still operating with manual processes. Handle this case as a pilot project: if it’s successful, you will gain back your efficiency and save on overhead costs.
2. Actively research iPaaS vendors
There are many iPaaS vendors on the market, it can be challenging to understand what they exactly do and what they offer. Additionally, the message may seem very similar. So how do you make a decision?
If you just need to connect for example a CRM to some of your applications, you may find a vendor that has ready-made connectors. Most of them offer free trials, so your IT team can test what is the best solution for you.
As mentioned above, in this post too, we are focusing more on the case if you need to deploy complex integration solutions.
Finding the right vendor gets a lot more difficult if your integration scenarios are complex. Your options are rather limited, too. Preferably, you want to find a vendor that has already worked on similar projects and it will manage the solution on your behalf. Most vendors have excellent success stories that are worth to check out as these will give you a good indication whether the vendor is worth your attention.
Besides this blog, some may want to use Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Integration Platform as a Service to help them shortlist solution providers or there are long lists of vendors at Capterra and G2 Crowd too that will help you to start your research.
3. Shortlist the iPaaS vendors
Now that you have discovered all your options, make a shortlist of the ones that have grabbed your attention the most and you found them as a potential fit for your integration projects.
Once the list is done, it’s the best to reach out to all of them and start engaging them by teleconferences or meet their representatives face-to-face. This will allow the vendors to understand your requirements, evaluate what would be the best way to move forward – whether it’s a proof of concept, a pilot, or starting straight off with a project.
4. Pre-sales meetings are crucial
Buying an integration service is not easy and it’s rather a long process, therefore take your time and engage with the vendor as much as you need. Typically, there are a few initial meetings where the vendors want to understand what the project would be about and then the integration architects can define whether the implementation is possible or if there should be some tweaks in the integration strategy.
These meetings are also crucial for the vendor to help them define what is the price of the project going to be.
5. Ensure it’s a maintained service
We have mentioned it already but cannot emphasize it enough. It’s rare to find integration architects that would have the skills learn to use an iPaaS (though it’s totally possible!) and implement your project. You also don’t want to have your own team for it. It is a lot more simple if your integration provider develops the solution for you, they test it (together with your IT team), deploy it, and maintain it on your behalf.
6. Reasonable pricing
Ask more quotes than just one! Some large firms make the mistake of choosing the most known provider and they pay them a fortune without properly discovering what other options they would have and how big differences can be in the prices.
Think for the long term: what is the estimate, how much will the solution cost in 1 year, in 3 years, or in 5 years. You want to be able to predict the prices and calculate your savings.
Some vendors may be 50-70% cheaper than others, so don’t rush your decision, look for the best provider with the best pricing.
Would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive? Probably no. Most vendors will be happy to start out small. We often like to prove our solution with solving a challenging case that other vendors or IT teams have struggled with. Demonstrating how quickly the solution can be developed and deployed is always a good sign and you can start planning what’s next.
Once someone has understood the value and ROI of iPaaS, they will want to go for more.
8. Implement more integrations
Define in the beginning together with your integration service provider that what would be the next step once the pilot is done and you were happy with the results.
It is good to start with processes that are currently causing you a lot of headaches to prove how integrations can boost your operational efficiency and even reduce your costs. Even though sometimes integration may seem like a big investment, in the long run, the return can be significant.
Are you still wondering whether you need an iPaaS?
If you have found this blog, chances are high that you have been wondering whether you should invest in an iPaaS. If you have read this blog, you know already what we suggest: take a look around, evaluate us as a vendor, and if you like what you’ve found, reach out and we will be happy to guide you.
For more specs, download our iPaaS product sheet: