Selecting the Integration Approach

By Madeline Weiss Print this article Print

Hard-won experience has taught IT leaders to prepare for the challenges associated with integrating software-as-a-service solutions into legacy applications.

Selecting the Integration Approach

David and Lee predict that organizations that have deep experience with in-house integration projects and a high percentage of functionality supported with traditionally installed applications are more likely to use in-house tools to integrate new SaaS applications into their environment. However, organizations that rely more heavily on SaaS offerings are more likely to select integration-as-a-service platforms for their integration needs. Because they are comfortable with having their IT resources in the cloud, they will continue to adopt such solutions.

The researchers recommend the following activities to prepare for further SaaS and legacy system integration:

Inventory existing SaaS applications. Understand the applications the staff currently uses. If your organization has a policy of not using SaaS, employees might not reveal their SaaS applications unless convinced they won’t face punitive action.

Inventory existing integration expertise. Document your integration capabilities so you can understand the integration options available to you. This will lead to further analysis of existing tool capabilities and skill levels.

Perform controlled pilot rollouts. If you have the luxury of controlling SaaS adoption, identify functional areas that have strong user support and a sense of urgency, but are not tightly integrated with your firm’s most strategic activities. This type of project lets you evolve SaaS procedures for identifying and acquiring solutions that minimize major risks, 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.

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. That will enable them to work effectively 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. 

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 on integration-tool capabilities, preferred PaaS platform decisions or in-house areas of expertise. Once standards are established, you can deploy new strategic functionality rapidly, better integrating these solutions with others, thereby enhancing the overall value to the firm.

The “SaaS, IaaS and PaaS” report is available for sale here, along with others commissioned by the SIM Advanced Practices Council.

Madeline Weiss is director of the Advanced Practices Council of the Society for Information Management and president of Weiss Associates, a firm that specializes in strategic transformation, leadership development and business/technology alignment.

This article was originally published on 2011-06-14
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