Organization-wide integration and automation efforts are on the rise as more and more companies embark on digital transformation initiatives.
Looking to reduce toil and save resources, interest is growing in software that makes it easy for any department to integrate programs and automate actions.
Integration Platform as a Service, also known as iPaaS, is an integration and automation solution that does just that.
With iPaaS you can bring together disparate systems that don’t normally communicate with each other into a single hub using a library of connectors to common systems such as Workday, Oracle, your IT service management (ITSM) platform, Salesforce, the Active Directory, Azure, and hundreds more – including many APIs.
Using iPaaS for integration and automation has many benefits. Here are the top 5 benefits of using iPaaS:
- Anyone Can Use It. With the right iPaaS tool, anyone can become a citizen developer. What does this mean? The best iPaaS tools are ones that utilize visual flow builders with drag-and-drop functionality. These tools are codeless, meaning you don’t need deep technical knowledge to get up and running. The benefit of this is you don’t need to rely on central IT resources to start integrating data and automating your processes. By democratizing integrations, you can free up valuable resources and boost efficiencies throughout your organization, not just in IT.
- Data Synchronization. Limited resources often mean you need to make strategic, data-based business decisions. But with data coming from so many systems, and sometimes through manual data entry, there’s a large margin for error. With iPaaS you can pull the data together (and automate manual data entry) to lower your margin for error and get a better, accurate picture of your data landscape. This, in turn, means you can make better data-based decisions.
- Automation of Repetitive Tasks. For many, this is a BIG benefit. Within departments such as IT, there is often a list of tasks that need to be completed daily, weekly and monthly. These tasks can be small, but they take time and resources to complete. In addition, these tasks, like password resets or software provision, are often the tasks that contribute the most to poor morale. Using iPaaS, IT departments are automating these tasks. Through automation, they are gaining time back in their day to focus on bigger projects and problems. This is a huge benefit, especially in IT, where resources and time are precious.
- Visibility to Data and Integration Points. As lines of business procure more and more software, organizations are finding that they may have 300-500 applications in use – many holding the same data without synchronization. Connecting these applications is virtually impossible without the aid of an integration platform. Many attempts are made with APIs and webhooks which furthers security risk – does IT have true visibility to the integration points throughout every department and application? When you integrate and automate your organization with iPaaS you can get visibility to all of this. You can see which APIs are in use and by whom, and you can see where data is flowing back and forth. By using an integration layer, you can shore up access and secure your systems. In addition, you can get visibility into the workflows being built across departments and be able to better manage resources and processes.
- Efficiency Gains. With iPaaS you can see efficiency gains. From automating small daily tasks and data entry, to fully automating complex processes like onboarding a new employee – with iPaaS you gain back valuable time and resources that you can use to focus on other improvements to keep your customers happy.
Bonus Integration and Automation Benefits
If those five benefits aren’t convincing enough, here are a couple more.
Did you know iPaaS can help improve communication throughout your organization?
As you know, businesses need to share data throughout their entire ecosystem to avoid any important information being lost. iPaaS ensures that everyone has easy access to that data, leaving no room for misinterpretation.
Additionally, iPaaS helps with security and compliance.
Security is easily one of the greatest concerns for a cloud-enabled solution. Did you know the average company uses more than 300 APIs to support critical business functions and pass data between systems?
While APIs can provide critical functionality, they’re also vulnerable to cyber-attacks. And with the average cost of cyberattacks rising to $4.6 million per incident, a business has to be vigilant about its security more than ever.
With iPaaS you gain API management as well as the tools needed to create better more secure connections to all of the systems you use daily.
IT Doesn't Need to Be Overwhelmed with Repetitive, Manual Work
A recent study shows that across industries, highly skilled IT workers spend much of their time on repetitive, mundane tasks to either service their customers, or to tie together the growing ecosystem of apps and cloud services procured by their organization to support the business.
The data shows that 58 percent of organizations say their IT team spends more than five hours per week on repetitive requests from business stakeholders, and more than one in five say they are averaging 10 or more hours per week on these tasks.
These requests include things like onboarding new employees, name changes, department changes and provisioning software.
And while these tasks are prime candidates for automation – the reality is that 40 percent of those surveyed report that 25 percent or more of these tasks must be done manually for one reason or another.
A quick calculation shows that an IT worker (or team) who spends 10 hours a week on these manual tasks wastes more than one financial quarter every year on things like resetting passwords for people.
Not only is this draining corporate resources, but it can be draining on the morale of IT employees who often join a company seeking to innovate and problem solve – not get bogged down with technical grunt work.
In fact, the survey found that 90 percent of respondents felt these types of repetitive manual IT tasks directly contributed to low morale and attrition within their IT organizations.
When asked to rank these types of tasks, the study found the top 5 time-wasting tasks are:
- Password resets.
- IT ticket clean up.
- Onboarding/offboarding employees.
- Managing credentials.
- Software provisioning.
Low-code/no-code iPaaS tools are a great way to automate and integrate systems across an organization and reduce the toil caused by all of these repetitive tasks, allowing your organization to be more competitive and nimbler with less friction and a better end-user experience.
iPaaS in Action: Automating the Mundane and Saving Time
Pima County is using TeamDynamix iPaaS to integrate systems both within IT and outside of IT to automate processes like onboarding and offboarding employees.
“We are starting small, hoping to use automation to take tickets and automatically deploy software to endpoints, to onboard and offboard users with Active Directory and distribution groups,” Hayes said.
When it comes to onboarding new hires, the county’s goal is to have new employees arrive on day one with everything they need to get to work, “You don’t need to waste so much time when it comes to onboarding,” Hayes said. “It really is such a sour experience for a new hire to come in, in this day and age, and sit around for three days waiting on their computer to show up. We need to get out of that mode and iPaaS is going to help us do that.”
In addition, using iPaaS to automate offboarding will save countless hours for a process that is normally very manual and heavily audited as Pima County is a government entity.
“As a government organization we get audited by the state every year and they want to know what these stale accounts are doing sitting here,” Hayes said. “Offboarding is currently a very manual process – having to review the list from HR of people who are no longer employed with us and manually revoking their privileges from all the different systems and software and disabling their accounts. There’s absolutely no reason for that to not be automated. iPaaS is going to help us a lot with this and save us time.”
Western University of Health Sciences has also been using iPaaS to increase efficiencies and save time. David Mitchell, Enterprise Application Administrator, said they started by automating simple tasks, things like automatic VPN access for approved users, keeping assets up to date and reconciling data between Active Directory and Banner.
“A lot of these tasks aren’t tasks that are necessarily hard for anyone to do manually, it’s more that they are repetitive and time-consuming,” Mitchell said.
And that’s been one of the biggest draws for iPaaS. “You know, we don’t have a DeLorean to get time back,” Mitchell said referencing the popular time travel trilogy Back to the Future. “But, we do have iPaaS.”
By automating tasks, especially the repetitive ones, Mitchell said their technicians now have time to focus their attention on bigger issues. “We’ve been working in iPaaS since January (2021) and I feel like we’ve already come a long way and are saving time,” he said. “But there’s so much more we can do.”
On the roadmap for WesternU is creating onboarding and offboarding workflows; automated permissions granting for mailboxes, calendars, etc.; adding and removing people from distribution groups based on form inputs; and automatically generating tickets from phone calls.
For Mitchell, the codeless drag-and-drop functionality of iPaaS has really enabled him and his team to move quickly and creatively when it comes to building new workflows.
“I’m not a programmer at all,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know the programming languages, I’m kind of illiterate when it comes to that, but I like to call iPaaS Lego programming because you just snap everything together and it works.”
And because iPaaS has been so easy to use, it’s pushing Mitchell and his colleagues to come up with more ideas for ways it can be used, “We want to see what else we can do within our department and then branch out to other departments – especially the ones that are already doing heavy automation and transition them to iPaaS eventually.”
Are you interested in learning more about iPaaS? Check out: 6 Tips for Finding the Right Enterprise Integration and Automation Platform.
This post was originally published in May 2021 and has been updated with new information.