Maintaining a successful organization requires integrating all operations, and creating a well-oiled digital machine. Some companies integrate data, while others integrate applications, systems, and APIs.
Whichever aspect of your business you want to integrate, you need to ensure a smooth flow of information and delivery of managed services.
That’s why integration outsourcing should be a key consideration for your business.
Delegating integration services to trustworthy vendors will give you the freedom to focus on core business functions. At the same time, experts from managed service providers will build, maintain, and keep the system updated for you.
But it’s not that simple. Before dipping our toes into the unpredictable waters of integration outsourcing, let’s explore its benefits and other key considerations.
- What Does Integration Outsourcing Entail?
- Why Outsource Integration Services?
- Drawbacks of Integration Outsourcing
- 6 Factors To Consider Before Outsourcing Integration
- Best Integration Outsourcing Practices
- How MSPs Can Outsource Integration
- Build, Buy, or Outsource Integrations?
What Does Integration Outsourcing Entail?
Integration outsourcing is the process of handing over the integration of systems, data, and business processes to an external entity.
This means that a third-party service provider — also referred to as a managed services provider (MSP), or outsourcing partner — takes care of the integration infrastructure itself without gaining access to the core business ecosystem.
Companies can decide to outsource data integration to dedicated vendors in order to ensure leakproof information sharing. This is crucial for cross-company collaborations, mergers and acquisitions, or integration with other MSPs.
In some cases, the third-party service provider will help integrate your business with external systems or business processes. They will dedicate experts to help your internal team configure, troubleshoot, and maintain connections with applications, APIs, and other systems.
Why Outsource Integration Services?
As mentioned earlier, companies outsource integration services for different reasons. Some to share data; others to keep all systems running like Swiss watches. Other reasons to outsource integration services include:
Hand It Over to the Experts
Integration outsourcing provides a great opportunity for companies to delegate their integration concerns to dedicated experts. This might involve giving up partial control by allowing the company to build the solution while your devs maintain it.
Alternatively, you could outsource the entire integration solution lifecycle to the provider. With unlimited access to the latest technologies, they can cater to your exact needs. You also retain access and permissions to the turnkey solution they provide.
Speaking from experience, most companies start their integration journey in-house. The devs build APIs for connecting systems and data sharing.
This might work in big companies with massive R&D departments dedicated to building out-of-the-box solutions. But for small businesses and startups, finding the experts to build cross-compatible, multi-system integration tools might be a far fetch.
Focus on Core Business
When you delegate integration to experts, this frees up some bandwidth and resources that you can channel into core business processes.
Say a third-party service is handling data integration across all your teams. Instead of hiring and managing developers to work on APIs, you can now focus your team on gathering, analyzing, and interpreting the data. This will increase productivity and overall performance.
Guarantee Stability and Service Availability
As part of focusing on core business functions, there won’t be any need to worry about the integration tool breaking down, because you are paying experts to keep it running.
Integration service providers stake their brand reputation and ultimate survival on ensuring maximum uptime for all their customers. So, they’ll go the extra nautical mile to guarantee service stability and availability.
This also extends to security. Reputable integration outsourcing companies use multi-layered security measures, firewalls, access controls, encryption, and authentication protocols to protect their customers’ data.
Exploring integration outsourcing reduces the company’s overall expenditure.
Think about it; you no longer need to hire developers to build and maintain the integration platform. Other costs you can save by outsourcing include the following:
- Licensing fees
- Office space and equipment
- Technology stack
These extra expenses could go even higher as your business scales up. And if your in-house devs lack the experience to discern the tools they need, you might end up splurging on things you don’t need.
Drawbacks of Integration Outsourcing
When you delegate integration services to an external entity, you risk exposing your business to security breaches through yet another potential point of failure. As a result, your business and customers’ data could fall into the wrong hands in cases of massive breaches.
Also, outsourcing is tantamount to ceding control to a third party. While this might work for your organization early on, it might become an issue as your business grows. Since you are locked in with this vendor, ending any ongoing agreement might require a painful process of decoupling.
Sometimes, outsourcing integration to partners outside your trade zone (e.g., a company in the EU delegating to a MENA-based agency) can drag you into unforeseen legal trouble. If the data governance legislation changes in that area — say sanctions or trade embargoes due to military action — your business will feel the burn.
6 Factors To Consider Before Outsourcing Integration
Before outsourcing integration services, you must consider several factors to choose the perfect candidate. Here are the questions you should answer beforehand:
What are the Services They Offer?
Find out the company’s core competencies to ensure they align with your needs. This will help you tailor your search to specific providers.
For instance, if you want a solution that can integrate data between Salesforce and Zendesk, you need to find a service provider that supports Salesforce Zendesk integration.
In some cases, the integration provider might propose different cooperation models: dedicated team, turnkey solution, or pay-as-you-go. Choose the one that suits you best.
What is The MSP’s Track Record?
Now that you have multiple MSPs on your radar, start sorting them based on reputation.
Consider reading independent reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations to find out what people are saying about the product or service they offer.
You can find reviews in communities, forums, and social media. If the MSP has no track record, don’t take this ill-advised leap of faith. Protect your business by going with known entities.
What Technology Is Available?
You need to discover as much information as possible about the company’s technology stack. Pay attention to how they handle data in transit or at rest.
Another technological consideration is the system architecture. You need to check if the outsourcing service provider uses a single or multi-tenant architecture. I’d lean towards single-tenant architecture because it isolates your system.
Apart from system architecture, check out security protocols like encryption, licensing, and firewalls. Trustworthy integration MSPs use multi-layered security measures, including access tokens, role-based permissions, and authentication, to guarantee privacy and data security.
What Does The SLA Contain?
The service level agreement (SLA) is a legally binding contract that contains the details of your agreement with the outsourcing partner.
To avoid conflict, outline the details of the agreement vividly. Get your legal team to review and redline every stipulation in the contract; this will protect you if problems crop up in the future.
Where is The Company Located?
You are probably wondering what location has to do with outsourcing in the era of remote work and gigs.
As mentioned earlier, integration outsourcing means handing over partial or full control of your system to a third party. This means the service provider has access to your data, albeit to some extent.
And this raises the question of data governance and residency. In regions like the EU, data governance and privacy laws are stringent. This might affect your company’s ability to outsource data integration services to a non-EU MSP.
Other location-based considerations include time zone discrepancies and language barriers.
How Much Does It Cost?
Most businesses fall into the trap of going for the most expensive outsourcing partner. In the words of Logan Roy: “Congratulations for saying the biggest number!”
This same logic applies to choosing overly low-cost outsourcing services. If the price is too good to be true, you are probably getting subpar services.
The secret sauce is to strike a balance between your budget and the cost. However, the ultimate deciding factor should be the quality of services they provide according to the SLA.
Best Integration Outsourcing Practices
Here are some best practices when outsourcing integration services to a third party.
- Outline your expectations in the service level agreement to indicate the expected deliverables, contingencies, roles, and concrete timelines.
- Establish a communication pathway between your organization and the managed service provider. Create an environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork.
- Abdicate responsibility but regain control. Make sure you have all the access roles and admin permissions to manage the data.
- Keep security, privacy, and compliance on top of the pile. You also need an external system for monitoring changes in compliance regulations.
- Outsource to companies within your geographical zone, if possible. This will save you a lot of headaches.
- Choose an outsourcing company with a proven track record of delivering quality services. You can also evaluate their tech task and interview the top brass before bringing them on board.
- Don’t splash money on the problem. Make sure the cost of outsourcing does not outweigh that of hiring in-house developers. And when you outsource, strike a balance between pricing and industry expertise.
How MSPs Can Outsource Integration
Managed services providers can outsource integration to vendors by buying out-of-the-box solutions. This cooperation model provides service providers with a solution that can integrate with their customer’s systems.
Exalate is an out-of-the-box solution that provides bidirectional integration solutions for MSPs. It uses a single-tenant architecture to host all its services. Exalate also comes with a scripting console and a team of engineers that can help you set things up and troubleshoot errors.
Nviso, a cybersecurity MSP, uses Exalate to automate its workflow and remove the redundancy of creating tickets between ITSM systems.
Alternatively, MSPs can hire a dedicated team from the outsourcing partner. The dedicated team will be a vestigial part of the organization without actually adopting its internal culture or data practices.
Build, Buy, or Outsource Integrations?
Companies often find themselves at a crossroads when deciding to build or buy integrations.
Going with the build option requires having a team of developers on hand to develop everything from scratch. You’d also have to pay for licensing, maintenance, updates, and security. Then, you also need to provide support internally when the product malfunctions.
Alternatively, you could choose the buy option and outsource everything to a dedicated and trustworthy integration service provider. This will cost you less and reduce stress on your development team.
So, evaluate your business requirements and capabilities to see if your resources can shoulder the stress of building a product in-house. The choice is ultimately yours.
Integration outsourcing allows you to delegate integration services to trusted third-party MSPs with proven industry expertise. Whether integrating data or services, you need a partner that guarantees security and seamless integration.
Instead of spending money for the services of the biggest outsourcing partner, you need to confirm if their services align with your organization’s needs. You should also factor in data governance and residency laws, as well as the scalability of their services.
Most importantly, always exert ultimate control over your data and service infrastructure when outsourcing integration services.
Why Do I Need Integration Outsourcing?
You need integration outsourcing to relieve the pressure on your in-house team as regards building and maintaining a working integration solution. This will help you save money while focusing on core competencies.
What Type of Integration Can I Outsource?
You can outsource integration for applications and systems, as well as data, APIs, and business processes. You can also outsource integration between MSPs—or MSPs with customers.
What are the Challenges of Integration Outsourcing?
The challenges of integration outsourcing include communication and collaboration issues, security risks, data governance and residency, cultural fit, and cost. You also have to worry about getting an integration service provider with a stellar reputation.
Is Data Security a Concern with Integration Outsourcing?
Yes, data security is a concern when outsourcing integration. By connecting with a third-party service, you introduce a potential point of failure to your infrastructure. That’s why you need to choose a reputable provider with robust security measures for protecting sensitive information.
- MSP Integration: Why It Matters for Your Business
- Exploring Ways To Implement Managed Services Integration
- The Complete Blueprint for Aligning Your Service Desk and Development Teams (Process Integration and Best Practices)
- Exploring the Build vs. Buy Integration Debate
- ITSM Integration: Simplify Your IT Services Like Never Before