Few would argue today that the need for your app to work with other apps is critical to you and your customer’s success. In today’s world of SaaS and mobile apps, customers use multiple apps to run their business. In a recent Nielsen survey, 80% of small business owners agree that it’s important for different apps they use to work seamlessly together and its challenging to run their business when many of them don’t1. Unless your customers are very large enterprises, it’s unlikely that they’re using monolithic systems provided by a single vendor such as Oracle or SAP. Rather, they use many different apps, each meeting a specific business need and each developed by different vendors.
In determining how you’ll enable your app to work with other apps, you need to consider both the immediate and ongoing risk and benefits of building and maintaining the necessary integrations yourself, commissioning a contract developer to build them for you, or partnering with an integration technology provider.
Many companies initially choose the DIY route, but soon discover that it wasn’t the best decision for them. Commissioning a contract developer to build it for you might get an initially workable solution, but often the original developer is no longer available to address maintenance issues leading to a broken solution within a few months. There are three reasons why partnering is the right strategic and financially sound decision.
1) Domain knowledge
Integrations come in two forms: point-to-point data integrations and more complex app integrations that automate multi-setup and multi-directional workflows. Point-to-point data integrations simply map like fields to each other, for example taking an email address from a CRM app and importing it into an email marketing app. App integrations are more complex and represent a deeper integration that automates common business workflows between two business apps such as ecommerce, accounting, CRM, and point of sale. App integrations require domain knowledge to understand context and data validation to ensure accuracy. An invoice for example is not a single field, but consists of multiple fields requiring an understanding of context so that multiple line items are interpreted correctly and the appropriate taxes and discounts are applied correctly in the accounting system. Getting these wrong can cost your customers considerably in incorrectly reported taxes or can fail validation in the target system, requiring manual rework that negates the intended automation benefit and create an impact on your support team. If you’re like most companies, building and maintaining app integrations are not your core competencies. You hired developers who are experts in their field of ecommerce, CRM, accounting, or another specific functional area. Integration is its own field and requires the domain knowledge and the relationship with app partners to understand and stay current on their APIs and roadmap. Trying to establish this domain knowledge within your company can be a major distraction to your primary roadmap and is often neglected, resulting in minimally viable integrations that are insufficient to meet real customer needs.
2) Longer term financial impact
Some companies initially choose the DIY route, only to realize over time that the true cost isn’t in the initial development of the integration, but in the ongoing support, maintenance, and updates. Integrations are not static. In fact, integrations are dynamic and if not actively managed typically encounter at least one breaking issue every 4 months. And, new APIs are released on average every 30 months, requiring a partial or complete rebuild of the integration. Typically, the developer who initially built the integration has moved on to other projects and any original domain expertise is lost or not current. Is it in the best interest of your company to have your developers working on building and maintaining integrations rather than on the release of new features and upgrades of your app that is core to your business?
3) Scalable solution
Your customers today use multiple apps to run their business. Building and maintaining a single integration between two apps requires ongoing diligence; sustaining integrations across multiple business apps requires a scalable solution. Single point-to-point integrations are not scalable to support the ecosystem of apps that your customers use today. To support these ecosystems, you need to stay current on the apps critical to your customers’ business. Investing in the expertise and scalable platform to support multiple APIs and app integrations for a single company isn’t cost-effective, but a partner that specializes in integrations and manages similar ecosystems for multiple companies achieves economies of scale.
The ability for your app to work with other apps is a strategic advantage. Your customers are continuously evaluating the apps they use to help run their business. The ability of an app to co-exist and work with other apps is a significant factor when they’re deciding on a new app as well as in whether they should keep using an existing one. As an app vendor, building and maintaining those integrations requires developers with the domain knowledge and the ongoing focus to ensure the integrations are done correctly and stay current. It’s the right strategic and financial decision to focus your resources on building the best app for your customers, and to partner with a technology company whose core competence and focus is building, maintaining, and supporting app integrations.
To learn more about partnering with OneSaas, visit http://www.onesaas.com/onesaas-integration-partners/
1 2014 Nielsen survey conducted by Intuit
OneSaas is an integration platform enabling apps to work together in the way that small businesses need to run their business. OneSaas works with the leading small business app developers to provide a managed service that delivers a first-party user experience for integrations embedded as a feature within their apps. Learn more about partnering with OneSaas at http://www.onesaas.com/onesaas-integration-partners/.