As more enterprises today search for ways to digitally transform their IT infrastructure with new systems, applications, and even processes, they also must consider how much responsibility they want to have for managing new technologies and workflows. There are a few different schools of thought on the best way to go about that, especially when it comes to more resource-intensive processes like EDI, B2B, application, and cloud integration.
On the one hand, some organizations will choose to make in-house integration investments and handle the day-to-day operations and management themselves. On the other, companies may decide they don’t want that burden anymore and outsource certain processes, like EDI, in a managed service model.
In the ongoing debate of in-house vs. managed services, is one approach better than the other? Not necessarily. It all depends on your internal resource capabilities and what’s important to serving the members of your business ecosystem, whether it’s trading partners or customers.
Here’s a look at in-house vs. managed service approaches to integration and some pros and cons of each.
Businesses that go the in-house integration route generally have a few characteristics: the skill sets to run all of it, a need to maintain control, and a desire to have support and agility close at hand.
Some enterprises will be confident they have the personnel and skill sets to manage all things integration themselves. But if not, they must make an investment in hiring or in training existing personnel. However, with the growing number of communications protocols and data formats to support, it can be challenging to find, hire, and maintain the development and operations skills required to master integration. A company might even choose to contract with outside consultants to advise on some of the more complex workflows.
Keeping integration in-house can help you maintain more control of your important business data. This eliminates the risk of third-party public cloud downtime, security breaches, and any other threat that might affect your operations. While this model requires a certain leap of faith that your employees will be able to sufficiently manage all your systems, applications, and processes on a day-to-day basis, it often means SLA compliance with your customers and partners is in your hands.
Support and agility
Another reason for choosing an in-house model is that enterprises have support resources on hand whenever they’re needed. When there’s an issue or a change to be made, you’ve often got the ability to swiftly address it. Some managed services vendors with lots of customers might put you into a queue and get to your request when they have time, which may not be right for most businesses.
One of the biggest downsides of in-house integration, however, is the cost. Businesses managing their own integration are fully on the hook for the costs, maintenance, and support of the hardware and software. Those looking to free themselves from such burdens might look to a managed service model.
Managed Services for Integration
Businesses often pursue an outsourced integration approach because they don’t have the skill sets manage it, have too many key-resource dependencies (i.e., only one person really knows how the system works), or are shifting to more of a cloud strategy.
By using managed services for integration, an organization can outsource the complexity, the specialization, and the costs of building integrations any time a new trading partner has to be onboarded or an application must be deployed. You can rest assured knowing your managed service vendor has the expertise to enable agile trading partner onboarding, troubleshoot any errors that may arise, and proactively monitor system health to ensure uptime. Instead of tasking internal resources with complex integration problems, let the experts in a managed services model handle them.
Sometimes your business has the right integration skill set, but it might be just that: a singular skill set. It’s not uncommon for one or two people to have managed enterprise integration over the years and are the only ones who understand how the integrations are put together and how to troubleshoot them. That’s an extremely risky setup, and it’s also not scalable. (What happens if that person leaves?) An outsourced IT model ensures you have all the expertise you need to leverage any protocol and format, develop and deploy integrations, build maps, and ensure ecosystem connectivity.
Companies shifting to a more modern cloud strategy find a managed service model makes a great deal of sense, since they only pay for what they actually need. They also eliminate the costs of employee acquisition, salaries, benefits, and more by investing in a shared services model. You also get out of the business of manually spinning up servers. Further, a key part of most managed services contracts is the uptime SLA, so you get the reliability you need and added integration expertise to successfully participate in your ecosystem.
It’s crucial, however, for you to find the right managed services provider to work with and be clear about the goals, needs, and direction of your enterprise. You also should fully understand the cloud services contract, so when there are support issues or downtime, you know how your business is covered.
Integration at Your Service
A reliable managed services provider eliminates integration complexity because it provides end-to-end ecosystem integration, monitors and manages your processes 24/7, keeps your enterprise informed with automated alerts and notifications, and provides the scalability to handle peak demands and grow with your business. But the best managed service provider will be more than a vendor; it will be your strategic partner that supports the evolving needs of your digital ecosystem.
Keeping your integration technologies and processes in-house might be right for your business at this point. But if you’re looking to outsource integration and want high-level guidance, end-to-end implementation, and migration services that will guarantee your ability to quickly execute business strategies and realize all your IT goals, consider enlisting managed services from the world’s leading integration partner.
Are you considering new approaches to your managing your integration? Download “The Common-Sense Guide to IT Modernization” to learn more about the pros and cons of outsourcing and how to insulate your organization from disruption.