Does it sometimes feel like your organization uses hundreds of applications? That’s because they probably do. 

Research for IT service management company Okta’s 2021 Business at Work Technology Industry Trend Report found that their larger customers deploy an average of 175 apps, with smaller companies clocking in at 73.

More apps equals more room for inconsistencies and outdated information. Companies looking for a solution to this problem have likely considered or implemented some kind of integration. 

Integration enables applications in your tech stack to share information with each other, reducing the need for manual work. If you’ve dreamt of a world where your HR team doesn’t have to transfer employee information from an HRIS to a payroll system or where your marketing and sales teams are better aligned, integration can help. 

Here we’ll discuss two of the main ways to approach integration and some questions to ask yourself when trying to decide the best route for your company.

One way to integrate is to use in-house developers to code scripts that enable applications to speak to each other through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).

Another is to use a third-party solution like an iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service). An iPaaS is a cloud-based integration platform that can help you build and scale integrations with sometimes little to no coding involved. 

So which route should you take? Here are some questions to consider: 

Do you have developers in-house with time to dedicate to a constantly-evolving project?

If you have a team of developers in-house and already have established integrations that you don’t want to fiddle with, there may be a case to continue maintaining them yourself instead of switching over to a thirty-party platform.  Once integrations are built, you’re not really looking at exhaustive daily maintenance. The extra time and work comes in if something breaks within the integration or there is an API change, which could take around to 3 to 4 weeks to address in-house. When going the in-house route, you’ll want to make sure that your developers have time to tackle these projects. 

If you don’t have the time or resources to commit to maintaining your integrations, you may want to look into an iPaaS. Most iPaaS options already have the infrastructure to deal with API or infrastructural changes, which saves your team the time it takes to monitor and update your integrations. 

If you go the iPaaS route, you’ll also likely have a support team and communities of users to lean on to help troubleshoot issues. It’s important to note, though, that not all iPaaS are easy to use. If you don’t have any in-house developers ready to help get the platform set up, be sure to consider ease of use when choosing a vendor. 

How fast is your company growing and what are you looking to offer? 

If your company is building and maintaining a variety of integrations to keep up with a growing workforce and expanded offerings, an iPaaS solution might be the better choice. 

Hubspot explains that as a company grows, integrations can become scattered, which can make information siloed or hard to access, but an iPaaS can help centralize everything for less confusion and data loss.This can help enable your organization to continue growing quickly and making an impact. 

How focused are you on security? 

If you have very strict security guidelines and are not allowed to use iPaaS because of them, you’ll likely need to keep your integrations in-house. This is not the case for most industries but is still a concern within some organizations, so be sure to have the conversation with relevant stakeholders before proceeding with any integration projects. 

If you don’t have a protocol against iPaaS, but are still concerned with security, you’re not alone. While “iPaaS vendors must mandatorily ensure compliance with industry-standard security guidelines,” according to business software review company G2, there are still some common problems that can occur. They explain that the fact that all of your data and applications will live within one platform increases data vulnerability as well as misuse due to human error. 

This isn’t to say that there aren’t ways to combat these potential breaches. Among the ways G2 recommends to stay vigilant are to strictly monitor iPaaS users and implement basic but essential security protocols like data encryption and various points of password protection. They also explain that most iPaaS vendors offer services such as fraud detection, easy audits, and real-time threat visualization. Keeping your data is safe is of the utmost importance, so taking every possible step to protect it is top of mind for third-party providers as well.  

To further test iPaaS capabilities, ask the vendors your considering if they have past clients with strict security guidelines, and for more information on how those clients used their product to meet those needs 

How flexible is your budget?

Comparing the cost of building in-house integrations versus buying an iPaaS isn’t as simple as comparing two fixed numbers. There are various things to consider when evaluating the two, from the short- and long- term financial commitments to developer salaries. 

To help you weigh the costs, you can ask vendors if they perform ROI calculations. By assessing how many people are involved in your project, the plan you’re interested in purchasing, as well as how much you’ll need to pay the employees working on the integration, among other things, vendors can come up with a general comparison for you. This kind of projection may not include every cost, but can certainly give you a better idea of what approach can work best for your budget. 

What do you think? Should you build integrations in-house or buy a third party platform, or do you still want to parse this over with your fellow Business Technology leaders? Request to join our Business Systems Community for an opportunity to discuss this topic with your peers!

Tayleur Hylton
About Tayleur Hylton

Tayleur is a budding technology enthusiast helping to grow the business systems community.