How to Choose an Embedded iPaaS for Your SaaS
Selecting an embedded iPaaS can be critical to your company's future and requires some serious consideration, but can quickly add value to your app. You should be able to move ahead and deploy your app plus integrations more efficiently than before — without adding developers.
An embedded iPaaS also positively affects customer retention as you spin up new integrations when your customers' needs change. You might also set up your customers to manage the integration themselves, reducing the time your customer-facing teams spend deploying and supporting the integrations.
Choosing an embedded iPaaS doesn't only set you up for a long-term relationship with your customers; it's also the beginning of a long-term partnership with your embedded iPaaS vendor. You'll want to ensure that this partner supports your integration needs today and has the capability and vision to support them tomorrow.
What should an embedded iPaaS include?
Since no two iPaaS systems are identical, you'll want to ensure that the one you choose has needed end-to-end functionality. Here are the key features to look for when building a shortlist for embedded iPaaS solutions:
- Integration designer. The heart of the embedded iPaaS, this is the tool you use to build, test, and publish integrations for your customers. A full-featured designer lets non-devs assemble integrations from existing connectors while making it easy for developers to write needed custom connectors to solve real-world integration needs.
- Built-in connectors. The embedded iPaaS vendor should provide an array of connectors for you to use immediately. These should include the ability to connect with common third-party apps, APIs, and data platforms and functionality to map and transform fields and perform branching and looping logic. Auth flows such as OAuth 2.0 should be built right into the connectors.
- Custom connectors. When built-in connectors are not enough, you need your devs to be able to create connectors that are precisely tailored to your product and industry. Remember, "custom" doesn't mean the same for every vendor, so make sure that the solution supports the level of custom development you need.
- Embedded integration marketplace. The marketplace makes your integrations visible and accessible to your customers within your app. Your customers should be able to select and activate integrations without intervention from your customer-facing teams. Some vendors require you to create your own screens and UX for this marketplace and others provide themeable pages which are ready to go. Make sure you choose the one that fits the development load you want.
- Infrastructure. When you implement an embedded iPaaS, your integrations run within the solution's purpose-built infrastructure, abstracting integration security and compliance concerns from your team. The infrastructure also handles performance matters such as scaling and bursting. Your embedded iPaaS vendor ensures infrastructure stability through monitoring, security patches, upgrades, and backups.
- Deployment and support tooling. Building an integration is just the start. That's why an embedded iPaaS should also provide the monitoring, logging, and alerting functionality your customer-facing teams use to deploy and support your integrations.
In addition to the core features, here are a few questions to keep in mind:
- What roles should your non-developers have with integrations? Many companies are speeding integration delivery by moving work off devs and on to non-devs. If this is one of your requirements, you'll want to be able to maximize the work your non-developers will do with the embedded iPaaS for building, deploying, and supporting integrations. Does the embedded iPaaS support that?
- How do your devs view the solution? What expectations do your devs have for the solution? How flexible is it – and how flexible are they willing to be? Does the solution have thorough dev documentation? Whether working in a low-code graphical designer or writing code for a connector, will the developers be pleased with the embedded iPaaS functionality?
- What is the vendor's commitment to embedded iPaaS? When you sign up for an embedded iPaaS, is the commitment you are making mirrored by the vendor? Is embedded iPaaS the vendor's only focus, or is it one of many? For example, some vendors are primarily focused on iPaaS for internal automation, with embedded iPaaS being a secondary focus. What plans does the vendor have for its embedded iPaaS? Is it willing to openly share those plans? Is the vendor actively interested in understanding and supporting your use cases?
What's the process for evaluating an embedded iPaaS?
Once you've created your embedded iPaaS shortlist, it's time to dig into the details. Here is the process we recommend for that evaluation:
Involve the right stakeholders in the process
This sets you up to successfully compare embedded iPaaS vendors and choose a solution that enables faster and easier integration delivery compared to your current approach.
It's typically helpful to include the product leader responsible for your integration strategy, your integration team leader, and dev team members who've built prior integrations.
Confirm the solution supports your big-picture requirements
Once you have the right stakeholders, your team should perform a hands-on evaluation within a demo/test environment and without the vendor. If the embedded iPaaS doesn't provide tools to support your minimum functionality or requires a level of technical know-how that is beyond your team, it's probably not the right fit.
If you have a few integrations now but plan to have a few hundred in the next couple years, does the solution scale for all those integrations (and all their versions)?
Get a demo early in the process
Next, get a vendor demo. Make sure you bring up any questions you noted during your test drive. It may be that needed functionality was there but not readily apparent. Now is the time to check any assumptions you've made with the vendor and ask the hard questions.
If you have specific use cases you are concerned with, bring them up in the demo and see how the system handles them. In short, use the demo to fill remaining gaps in your understanding of the embedded iPaaS.
Conduct a realistic proof of concept
After the demo, it's critical to prove that the solution you're considering can support your types of integrations. Keep in mind that a demo showing straightforward automation between two common SaaS apps does not necessarily indicate that a solution can support a complex integration between your product and a niche third-party app with no built-in app connector.
During the POC, build one or more typical integrations, maybe even the next integration in your backlog.
Evaluate solutions' handling of real-world complexity
As part of your proof of concept, investigate whether the embedded iPaaS is sufficiently powerful and flexible to support the range of integrations you need.
Integrations in the real world are complex. Almost every integration B2B software teams need to build is “messy”: imperfect third-party APIs, non-standard auth, data mapping that varies widely between customers, automatic retry needs, etc. Ensure that the solution you're considering handles the integration complexity you tend to encounter.
Ensure that the solution fits your existing tools and processes
Finally, consider that for almost any software tool to be successfully adopted, it should fit into your existing dev ecosystem.
Determine whether solutions can be easily incorporated into your existing tools and processes such as source control, CI/CD pipeline, logging systems, and incident response systems. This will ensure your integration delivery can be smoothly incorporated into how you build, deploy, and support your core product.
Delivering integrations to your customers is hard work. It typically takes a lot of engineering time, slows your sales and onboarding efforts, distracts from core product innovation, and for many B2B software teams, is a weak point in the overall customer experience.
Choosing the right embedded iPaaS can help you transform your integration delivery into a decisive strategic advantage and help ensure that your customers stick around for the long haul. If you are interested in learning more about embedded iPaaS, check out our Embedded iPaaS Guide or contact us.
Prismatic is the integration platform for B2B software companies. It's the quickest way to build integrations to the other apps your customers use and to add a native integration marketplace to your product. A complete embedded iPaaS solution that empowers your whole organization, Prismatic encompasses an intuitive integration designer, embedded integration marketplace, integration deployment and support, and a purpose-built cloud infrastructure. Prismatic was built in a way developers love and provides the tools to make it perfectly fit the way you build software.
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