An Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) can help businesses obtain the full value of their software investments, delivering speed, agility, and scalability, along with a host of other benefits. But the current approach to iPaaS is instead holding businesses back.
As the pace of digital transformation has kicked into overdrive in recent years, IT teams and business leaders have invested in automation by deploying Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications due to the hard realities of integration.
Remote and hybrid work has made it hard for all employees to access data, and the move to the cloud has made it tougher for workers to access specific business process data. Without a platform that unifies automation and integration, the proliferation of apps and services in the cloud can quickly get out of control.
The process is broken, and organizations must shift direction so they don’t get left behind.
5 Best Practices for Optimizing and Automating All Business Processes with iPaaS
iPaaS solves a lot of problems for businesses that are deploying an exploding number of applications via the cloud. The number and variety of apps being deployed – and often integrated after the fact on an as-needed basis – creates exponential growth in both data and data silos, leading to a lack of visibility and costly human errors. iPaaS solutions take a holistic approach to integration by standardizing how applications are added. But reaping the full benefits of iPaaS requires a careful, methodical approach.
An ERP-led digital transformation can help organizations achieve their short- and long-term goals. And that begins with taking the critically important step of adopting an automation-first mindset that can change the culture within the company.
There are five key steps companies need to take with iPaaS toward optimizing and automating all of their businesses’ processes.
Develop an automation roadmap aligned to business initiatives, establishing a vision of what those system initiatives will look like for the next 12 to 24 months (though it can cover a longer or shorter amount of time). A roadmap gets people thinking about what automation will look like. Steps in this stage include:
- Document your current state, including where systems are and how data is being transferred between them.
- Map out a future state. This is very helpful for establishing a baseline when done at a high level. It can include what systems aren’t integrated, and what integrations are to come, as well as other possibilities such as where something could be customized.
- Map business initiatives to business processes. List all applications and identify those involving slow, resource-intensive processes.
- Identify the systems and data that must be 100% accurate – that is, the systems that are most important to your business.
- Finally, establish timelines and define success criteria for each of those initiatives, which will help you get plans in place and prioritize resources.
Align to business outcomes to achieve impactful wins that improve the overall business. Making improvements alone won’t enhance the business unless you’re focused on the impact they will have on key outcomes. Those critical outcomes include:
- Revenue increases
- Operating cost reductions
- Productivity enhancements
- Improvements to the customer experience
- Differentiation from competitors
- Technology support
A very important step with iPaaS is to implement business process automation closest to the teams that are performing the business processes being automated. You do that by democratizing the concept of automation and integration within your organization, rather than just limiting its implementation to the IT department. IT is critical, of course, but digital transformation works best with a federated approach, enabling departments to initiate automation on their own with the oversight of IT where it makes sense to do so.
This step relies greatly on having an automation mindset. Teams should always be asking: Should we automate this? How do we automate it? This kind of thinking leads to a cultural shift toward the continuing acceleration of automation and efficiency.
Businesses should take care in choosing the right technology to achieve their short- and long-term goals. It makes a huge difference early on if you can start to standardize on a tool that does everything you need it to without adding any unnecessary functions. The right iPaaS tool can provide agility, allowing people other than engineers to employ typical applications while freeing up developers to work on more challenging projects. For that to happen, organizations need a tool that provides the following:
- Guaranteed data delivery
- Data governance and compliance
- Built-in monitoring and management
- Methods to help teams understand errors and recovery processes through standardization
- A well-designed UI that has technical capability while allowing non-developers to build, modify, and manage integrations
- Prebuilt connections to common applications
System maintenance is often an afterthought, and it shouldn’t be. It can enable business teams to own automation without risk, for example, by being able to implement changes without having to call in a developer. It also can serve as an early warning. If a flaw has slipped through your change management, you’ll see it in automation and integration because they’ll break. That can be incredibly useful. A tool that makes it possible to quickly assess the problem is a big advantage for any company.
The pace of digital transformation and the mass migration to the cloud make it complicated for businesses to manage all of their infrastructure and SaaS applications. Implementing iPaaS can help a great deal, but only if done right.
By following these key steps, any organization can begin to tame the proliferation of apps and services they rely on while taking full advantage of the many benefits of business process automation. This will help growing businesses continue to thrive and achieve maximum gains with as little disruption as possible.