Integration Maturity Model
Understanding how companies build integrations based on their development.
Integration Maturity Stages
Welcome to the
At this point, companies have fully embraced the cloud. As we enter the second decade of SaaS applications, most companies are actively adopting dozens, even hundreds of best-of-breed business applications across multiple departments — and the pace is accelerating. In this era, the question is no longer about moving to the cloud. Instead, businesses today are much more focused on maximizing the return on the increasingly significant investment presented by cloud applications as they mature.
Beyond the bigger foundational apps, individual departments begin to adopt their own domain-specific SaaS apps that may include other systems of record, such as Marketing Automation for Marketing and Ticket Tracking for Support.
This translates into holistically thinking about business process automation throughout the organization. The need for integration — the ability to connect two or more applications together — suddenly jumps to the forefront of the conversation and becomes mission-critical for the company to succeed.
The Integration Maturity Model
The concept of a Maturity Model is a well-known framework that articulates “the ability of an organization for continuous improvement in a particular discipline”. This helps companies and teams understand the challenges they face and where they might be headed based on where they sit in the maturity model. For example, while the accounting team of a young company might slowly manage expense reporting via email, spreadsheets, and paper checks, more mature accounting teams have fully-automated systems with real-time dashboards that provide insights into total spend by departments.
Having provided integrations for thousands of companies over the last decade, Celigo has identified certain integration trends based on a company’s own operational readiness. The result is the following Integration Maturity Model to help companies understand their own integration readiness.
The Approaches to Integration by Stage
The integration approaches vary significantly depending on the stage of the company’s lifecycle.
An early-stage company’s first order of business is to find product-market fit. By definition, long-term business processes haven’t been settled yet. Manual processes abound at this stage, but there might be a scattering of SaaS apps in the enterprise. Integrations are pain-point based and reactive, driven by individuals solving their own issues on an as-needed basis.
Gradually, companies start to grow and adopt a few foundational SaaS apps. While there is more attention paid to operational issues, integrations tend to be reactive: An app is acquired, a particular pain is felt, and there is an immediate need that requires being solved right then and there. The typical first response is to rely on out-of-the-box native integrations, vendor-built integrations, and, in some critical cases, building a direct API integration with technical resources. However, developing companies are beginning to notice and understand some of the limitations of these integration methods:
There might be dozens of applications integrated via a hodgepodge of native integrations, multiple vendor-built, point-to-point integrations, and direct API integrations. This quickly becomes a maintenance and compliance nightmare to track and update.
This integration approach is very limiting, handling only specific use cases that were built out of the box for two specific applications. If business processes become more sophisticated, or if they span three or more applications, this may require customizations that are largely unsupported.
At this point, companies start dedicating resources toward IT and operations for centralizing resources. IT and operations holistically build and own enterprise-wide integrations, collaborating with different teams to design solutions for automating business processes across departments. Additional key foundational SaaS apps have been implemented, and more and more specialized SaaS apps are regularly adopted. As a result, the need for integration has increased exponentially.
However, because processes are better defined, companies at this stage are better at proactively identifying operational issues and the requirements to address them. This is the point to consider or even adopt an integration platform, or iPaaS, to accelerate the time needed to build and reduce the cost to maintain these integrations.
This is the stage that most companies should be striving for to find the right balance. At this point in their integration journey, many companies have an iPaaS and have federated it for both IT and business users to build and maintain the integrations that suit their needs. The IT team handles mission-critical integrations because they touch multiple departments, resources, and business applications. Meanwhile, business users from other teams and departments can handle certain processes, automations, or integrations on their own. With the help of an iPaaS, integration is seen as a strategic advantage to proactively get ahead and drive the business forward.
This is the Holy Grail of the integration maturity model that’s generally meant for larger companies, but companies with an integration-first mentality can receive this designation. They have a blueprint for automation and integration in place, managing more than 30 apps that support the enterprise. Everyone in the company is empowered, proactively improving their business processes.
Integration is an afterthought and decentralized
Mostly using vendor-built integrations
Integrations resolve acute pain points
Limitations to vendor-built integrations begin to emerge
Integration recognized as an organizational issue, transitioning tooling to IT
Complex integration needs are pervasive
Federated development with focus on business process automation
IT creates reusable integration assets
Blueprint for automation and integration in place
Business teams are empowered, proactively improving their business processes
|Number of Cloud Apps|
|Scattering of early stage SaaS apps||1+ foundational apps||3+ foundational apps||10+ apps running core business processes||30+ apps supporting the enterprise|
|Individuals/Departments||Line of Business/ Departments||IT/Ops||Business Teams, IT/Ops||Entire Organization|
|Early Stage||Striving to get here|
Where Does Your Company Fit
In the Integration Maturity Model?
Chances are, your company is feeling the pain of manual processes and lack of visibility that normally comes with the adoption of business apps at scale. It is ok to be on the left side of the integration spectrum, as long as you understand where you stand, and what you and your company gains by proactively driving your integration strategy to the right.