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SaaS Integration: Approaches, Comparison, & it's Challenges


What is SaaS integration?

SaaS integration refers to connecting one SaaS application to another cloud-based software or an on-premise system of an enterprise. Communicating between those applications is necessary if a business uses several SaaS applications. The integration allows seamless exchange of information between several platforms, which is much-needed for streamlined workflows in a company. Suppose one application cannot communicate with another used by the same organization. In that case, the formation of data silos and manual work for the employees will increase enormously. 

A large company may use CRM, ERP, finance, and marketing applications. When it buys another SaaS application for some other function, the first question that any user will ask is whether they can sync data from the application to their different applications or not. SaaS integration becomes essential with many SaaS applications and a massive volume of data. 

This article talks about four approaches to SaaS integration, SaaS integration challenges, and a comparison of SaaS integration with other integration types. 

Critical approaches in SaaS integration 

  • Opening API endpoints to third parties 

In this approach of SaaS integration, the SaaS vendor opens its API endpoints for third parties to use. Third parties include value-added resellers (VARs), managed service providers (MSPs), direct customers, professional service providers, and independent developers. They use the API endpoints to connect the SaaS product with other applications and systems. 

This approach takes off the load from the SaaS provider of maintaining integrations and focusing on its core product. But the disadvantage here is that the SaaS company has no control over the quality of SaaS integrations. When the end-users of the SaaS product face issues, they’re more likely to blame the SaaS product first. 

Suppose the customer is responsible for the integrations. In that case, the concept of customer care fails a bit, and if the SaaS vendor updates its APIs, then the user will also have to update their integration system. 


  • Coding native integrations manually. 

Many SaaS companies build the integrations that they serve within the SaaS application. This approach ensures that the SaaS vendor controls the integrations’ quality, security, and customer experience. Additionally, as SaaS companies know their customers’ challenges, they are more likely to build integrations best suited to their needs. 

The problem with this approach is that a point comes when the SaaS company needs to decide whether to put its resources into developing and improving its SaaS product or into maintaining integrations. Also, as the number of connected systems grows, scalability and maintenance become more and more difficult. This method has its advantages but is the most time and resource-consuming. 


  • Directing customers to an independent integration tool provider 

This method is also a general approach to SaaS integration. The SaaS vendor directs the user to an existing integration tool like Zapier or IFTTT. These service providers already enable connectivity for many SaaS applications in the market. The SaaS vendors build their integrations and publish them on these platforms, allowing them to avail several integration use cases. The SaaS vendor saves up on resources and also has control over the quality and maintenance. Here the end-user is responsible for configuring SaaS integration flows.  

The issues arise when the integration use cases become complex and the tools cannot handle them. Also, if you are dealing with high-volume data, providing any ROI to your buyers is challenging as it is not cost-effective. Another problem is that the customers may get confused about whom to reach out to in case of technical issues. 


  • Building and offering native integrations through an embedded iPaaS tool

iPaaS stands for integration platform as a service; this is a relatively new approach to SaaS integration. iPaaS vendors provide SaaS companies with customizable integrations that are configuration-based. SaaS brands sell these integrations within the SaaS product under their name. 

iPaaS solutions enable buyers to build a connected enterprise for smooth workflows. This approach allows SaaS vendors to control quality, security, and customer satisfaction. Vendors are also not required to use their resources for maintaining integrations. The biggest perk of this approach is that users can easily tackle use cases of any level of complexity. 

The challenges with this method are: iPaaS tools are complex, and learning how to use them can be difficult. It is easier and cheaper to code SaaS integrations manually than to deploy an iPaaS. Manual coding should be preferred over iPaaS if use cases are simple and the number of integrations is small.  


Difference between SaaS integration, App integration, and API integration 

All these terms may sound different, but we can use them interchangeably. API is a set of codes that allows programs to communicate with each other by sending and receiving data. Before the rise of iPaaS, enterprises required a developer to assist with API integration, and iPaaS has made it much easier to integrate apps without technical knowledge. 


SaaS integration challenges 

  • Cost

While doing integrations, a company can proceed in two ways: it can use tools or devote technical resources toward SaaS integration. Technical resources will either be internal or external, but using these resources will not be cost-effective for the company. Instead, businesses can use these resources for other revenue-generating activities. Tools here refer to the integration platforms in the market, and they make your SaaS integration easy, fast, and flexible. 

  • Time 

Setting up integrations will take up the company’s time, but this time is necessary. Spending appropriate time setting up integrations is essential to avoid problems in the future. Organizations can speed up the time-to-value ratio by leveraging pre-built integrations, having subject matter experts assist them, and setting up integrations in a manner that is easy to use. 

  • The spread of SaaS

Today’s organizations use many SaaS applications to make their daily processes smooth and efficient. When a company uses several SaaS applications, it becomes essential to integrate them holistically. A potential challenge in SaaS integration is to combine several SaaS applications to avoid the possibility of data silos and chaotic manual processes. Big companies use a dozen SaaS applications and making communication easy is the most significant pain point SaaS integration solves.    


SaaS integration is beneficial for both the buyer and the vendor. SaaS vendors will be able to sell more of their products if they can exchange information with other applications easily. Providing a great customer experience is easy when your product is integrable. As a SaaS user, the integration creates excellent value as users can combine data from one application to another and work hassle-free. The integration allows users to get the most out of their SaaS applications. 

SaaS applications will continue to create value for today’s businesses, and as more and more enterprises adopt SaaS technology, integration will become necessary. 

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