By Madeline Weiss  |  Posted 2011-02-25 Print this article Print

A report commissioned by SIM's Advanced Practices Council looks at a pressing integration challenge.

The researchers recommend that CIOs initiate the following activities to prepare their organizations for further SaaS and legacy system integration:

Inventory existing SaaS applications.  Understand better the breadth of applications that staff currently use (e.g., Skype, Google Docs, Salesforce.com).  If your organization has an explicit policy of not using SaaS, individuals may not reveal their SaaS applications unless convinced that they won’t face punitive action.

Inventory existing integration expertise.  Since optimal integration solutions depend on local expertise and historical integration investments, document your integration capabilities to understand better the integration options available to you. This will lead to further analysis of existing tool capabilities (is your existing integration solution already able to integrate leading SaaS functionality?) and skill levels (do you have strong integration expertise already or will you need to train team members on emerging tools?).

Perform controlled pilot roll outs.  If your organization has the luxury of controlling its SaaS adoption, identify functional areas that have strong user support and a sense of urgency, but are not tightly integrated to your firm’s most strategic activities. This type of project can allow you to evolve SaaS procedures for identifying and acquiring solutions that minimize major risks (vendor survivability, control concerns, etc.) while giving your applications team experience in successful SaaS adoption. Ideally, this process will result in an architecture that enables agile acquisition and integration of future functionality, and the IT team will be more able to support the organization’s overall strategic needs.

Conduct business process training.  IT departments will require extensive business process management and execution capabilities to integrate and optimize the various applications for delivering business value.  Identify key business analysts or integration specialists for additional training in business areas so they can effectively work with functional leaders, understanding their strategic needs, and translating them to the level of detail necessary to execute an integrated process across several different SaaS and legacy platforms, which will likely be the norm for several years until a truly successful PaaS emerges (if it does).

Develop a robust SaaS strategy: After identifying existing SaaS applications and working with key areas to pilot SaaS adoption, you will be better prepared to develop and document strategic SaaS guidelines. These guidelines should include standards for adoption, based upon integration tool capabilities, preferred PaaS platform decisions, or in-house areas of expertise. Once these standards are established, you can deploy new strategic functionality rapidly, better integrating these solutions with others, thereby enhancing the overall value to the firm. 

Note: “SaaS, IaaS and PaaS: Realities and Emerging Integration Issues” can be downloaded here, along with other reports commissioned by the SIM Advanced Practices Council.


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