A well-connected business uses digital transformation and connects data to automate processes faster. Connecting components makes it easier to complete tasks and work together with your front and back offices.
Businesses looking to create these connected processes and streamline automation often integrate, but costs can rack up if the project has poor planning. In this post, we’ll highlight five ways to reduce data integration costs for more thoughtful and successful projects.
Why do data integration projects run over budget?
Before we get into how to solve the problem of data integration cost overruns, let’s talk a little bit about why they happen in the first place. Data integration projects can run over budget for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons for cost overruns is a change in project scope. Project scope defines all the use cases and associated tasks to attain the desired outcome from your integration. It sets a plan for which fields you’re integrating to ensure they support the broader goal of your integration project.
If your project requires any custom mapping or special coding, that is also defined as part of the scope. The integration provider uses that scope to determine how much time and effort your project will take and assign an accurate quote for what it will cost.
Budgets start to run off the rails when changes are made to the scope after-the-fact. If your team decides to add some connections because they’d be “nice to have,” it will add to the cost. That’s why it’s so important to differentiate your “nice to have” vs. “must-have” connections during the initial scope.
If you have the budget for all the “nice to have” functions, great! But if not, your focus should remain on getting those “must have” components in place during this initial integration project. You can always add the “nice to have” connections later when you have more time and budget.
Integrations can also go off budget when the data hasn’t been prepared in anticipation of the project.
Garbage in = garbage out. Why go through all the trouble of integrating if poor data quality is just going to undermine your success?
Data in all your integrating systems should be cleaned and checked for duplicates, errors, and missing information prior to any integration project. This avoids reworks, unnecessary testing, and (most of all) headaches.
Integrating a legacy system can also lead to some costly surprises. Outdated and highly specialized solutions are often more complex to connect and take many more hours of testing and issue resolution to get right.
5 Ways to Reduce Data Integration Costs
Now that we understand what makes integrations more expensive, let’s discuss some ways to avoid those outcomes. Here are five ways to reduce integration costs.
#1 Avoid Point-to-Point Integrations
Point-to-point (P2P) integration uses custom code, often written in various coding languages, to connect apps together. Situations where point-to-point integrations make sense include:
- Straightforward integrations: Integrations with shallow scope won’t require as much time or resources. Maintaining the integration will also be simpler. A point-to-point integration makes sense for these easier, smaller projects.
- Only one integration is needed: Building one integration is much more manageable for your team and won’t require much complexity. However, it should be noted that businesses rarely stop at one integration. Many end up adding more integrations later on as they scale.
Disadvantages to point-to-point integrations include:
- They’re very time-consuming.
- They’re not scalable.
- They’re hard to track.
- They’re not future proof.
- They force only a few employees to handle the work.
Although P2P integration may seem like a quick fix initially, in many cases, they end up costing more later when businesses that are ready to scale find themselves stuck. A low code integration solution that enables end-to-end automation lets your team stick to a more concise budget. The visual components of low code make the project more accessible to more members of your team, and help you complete the integration without as much heavy coding.
Many low code solutions (like StarfishETL) offer a range of pre-configured integrations as well, making the process even simpler. These pre-configured integrations provide mapping to core fields out-of-the-box, so teams don’t have to waste time building them.
#2 Factor in Maintenace & Support Costs Early
Considering long-term maintenance and support costs when planning an integration helps you stay within budget. After integration, your apps, security protocols, and systems will need to be monitored and upgraded periodically to make sure everything is running smoothly. Plus, knowing you have maintenance and support is crucial for being able to fix issues when they first arise.
Find out whether your provider includes these costs or charges extra for them. StarfishETL, for example, offers support hours that are baked into the price for each integration tier. Additional support hours can be added a la carte. Our Knowledgebase and community forum help internal teams troubleshoot before having to submit a ticket, so they can save support hours. No matter how simple your integration is, support and maintenance will be forever ongoing.
#3 Be Thoughtful About Which Customizations You Add
Adding custom modules or fields to your integration comes with additional support and development hours. Before you choose which customizations you want integrated, talk to an expert about your needs so they can ensure that adding those modules or fields fits with your budget and goals. The more customizations you add, the longer your integration will take to complete, and the bigger investment you’ll need to make towards those changes.
#4 Cut Data Transfer Costs
With integrations come data requests. When cloud apps make data requests, it can sometimes generate an API charge or data transfer fee. These charges are usually based on the volume of data and the frequency of the calls. An integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) acts as an all-in-one solution to enable integration, store the data, and make requests at a lower cost. To cut data transfer costs, consider using an integration platform like iPaaS for your project.
#5 Go in with Detailed Project Specifications
Many companies come to an integration consultant with very vague indications about what they want to get out of their integration. A good consultant will sit down with your stakeholders and have them explain the exact results they are looking for, and then translate that into a project based on those specifications.
Going into a project with a very detailed understanding of what needs to be accomplished will allow you to get the most accurate pricing. Your projects will be more successful because there will be an orderly way to approach tasks and define actionable use cases.
Integrating systems the right way increases productivity and cuts down on costs. Keep it simple and only integrate what you need to decrease the chances of your project going over budget. Also, be thoughtful about the customizations you want to add.
StarfishETL is a low code iPaaS whose dedicated consulting team can guide your team to make smart integration decisions that keep your project within budget. For a free consultation on your upcoming integration, contact us at email@example.com.