How do you derive the most value from your SaaS investment? By asking the right questions – and knowing what responses to expect – during the vendor evaluation process. You must carefully investigate each provider’s approach to security, data retention and ownership, performance and availability, support, and enhancements and upgrades. Inquiring about integration capabilities is also critical.
Inquiring About Integrations
Long before you began looking for this particular SaaS solution, you likely made substantial investments in many other software systems. Perhaps you have on-premise ERP applications, like SAP or Oracle. Maybe you have an in-house programming team that has developed proprietary software for your employees. Or, you might even use a cloud-based CRM solution, like Salesforce.com.
Therefore, the SaaS vendor you chose must enable you to continue to leverage those investments, by linking to and sharing information with the various systems you already use. Ask the vendor for a list of solutions their offering can be easily integrated with, and what kind of API they provide. Make sure the API provided support standards such as web services or REST. You’ll also want to request specific details about how those integrations will be achieved – you’ll be surprised at how costly and time-consuming integration can become if not addressed properly.
What to Look For
In order to preserve the value of your existing environment, and continue to realize return on your prior system investments, you’ll need to:
- Avoid any SaaS solution with limited integration capabilities
- Cross any vendor that requires expensive, time-consuming custom coding to achieve system-to-system integrations off your “short list”
- Choose a provider with pre-built interfaces, or one that uses open, standards-based APIs to link their own service to other systems.
By selecting a vendor with comprehensive integration capabilities, unifying your entire infrastructure – including your cloud-based solutions – will be fast, simple, and cost-effective.
In our next post, we’ll outline the questions to ask regarding usability, so you can make sure the SaaS solution you deploy is intuitive and user-friendly.
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