13 Feb 2013

Overcoming data integration challenges using SaaS

Software-as-a-Service has exploded in recent years, with businesses increasingly turning to outside vendors to provide and manage software for specific business functions on an ongoing basis. But as SaaS applications become more ingrained in the day-to-day of doing business, we’re expecting more from them. These days, we want SaaS applications to perform core functions as well as peripheral specialties, and to be functional across large areas of a business. The data integration challenges contained in this is considerable, but not insurmountable. How do you identify and overcome these challenges and reap the rewards of doing so? Consider integration early The days of purchasing SaaS products piecemeal to perform individual functions are probably numbered. Ideally, you should be considering the data and software integration obstacles and strategies before you purchase SaaS, rather than purchasing blind to these considerations and finding yourself having to negotiate them unprepared. Learn from the past There are transferable lessons that companies can take from their past experience in on-premises integration when they’re working with SaaS providers. While SaaS integration does tend to be pricklier because of the migration issues and third parties involved, the fundamentals of data management remain. Tap those staff within your company who has previous experience in large-scale data integration projects to manage the interaction between SaaS providers, business and in-house IT. Maintain data quality The ease of data integration across SaaS and legacy systems is partially contingent on the quality and consistency of the data itself. Auditing the quality of your data before you attempt to integrate it across SaaS and legacy systems will ease the process immensely. Include vendors SaaS vendors know their clients want integration, especially if they’re providing software for core business functions. They’ll have a greater base of knowledge and experience about how to achieve this than most or all of your internal staff, so make sure they know that data integration is important to you. Author: Joshua Bateson, National Projects Manager, Brennan IT