Is iPaaS the Path of Least Resistance?

Daniel Ball, Director, Wax Digital, a leading eProcurement solution provider for source-to-pay solutions, examines the benefits of procurement solution integration technology in the shape of Integration Platform as a Service. 

As a procurement technology provider we see a lot of procurement teams looking to move beyond the built-in purchasing modules within their corporate ERP and finance systems, in search of a best-of-breed procurement and sourcing platform that can deliver a far better user experience, faster implementation, higher adoption rates, and significantly increased spend under management

Adopting best-of-breed solutions is not a new trend, but what has changed is the game of integration between these dedicated procurement and sourcing platforms and the other vital systems in the business that either need it, or indeed feed it.

The integration between procurement systems and other departmental systems has always been a challenging discipline. A lot of businesses seeking to replace existing procurement modules are stopped by the need to integrate back-office systems seamlessly and easily with their best of breed eProcurement solution of choice.

In the past, integration was the IT department’s domain and it would have to invest in middleware technology, specifically designed to manage and map business processes across multiple IT systems. For procurement (let’s face it, a relative technology outpost in the business) this could often mean a roadblock in its ability to move forward with its software of choice. Believe me, we have seen plenty of situations where there the procurement team wishes to buy best-of-breed but their decision is overridden by IT and finance because of the perceived integration complexities!

Today, the world has changed. For a start, corporate software is a much more fluid thing, some of it still powered by servers in company-owned data centres, but a lot of it delivered as a service from a multitude of clouds operated by different providers – either the technology providers themselves or a third party co-location datacentre that the business outsources its IT to. This means the use of corporate systems is much more flexible and easy to switch on and off. Executives in all departments are getting used to the fact that we want to select and use systems ‘on tap’. Additionally organisations are tapping into a far wider range of digital data sources, think punch-out technology, product review sites and online market data and pricing feeds. Procurement has come to realise that a single system can be used to aggregate best practice but it relies on being able to connect with any data from anywhere.

Of course, the original aim was to overcome the common challenge of procurement and finance data being in separate silos, reducing an organisation’s ability to analyse spend and streamline the purchase-to-pay process. But if we can now simplify integration with other third-party systems, procurement can reap even greater benefits from pooling wider relevant data from other sources that can transform the source-to-pay cycle.

Rather than IT owning and operating a central hub-and-spoke approach to integration there’s a new trend coming into play – iPaaS or Integration Platform as a Service. iPaaS is a cloud-based integration service – in essence a sleek integration dashboard rather than the toolbox of old, and it’s often allied specifically to a cloud or software-as-a-service application. It means when a procurement team wants to go best of breed, they can say to IT that they already have integration sewn up as part of their selection, and far less effort will be required to connect and build processes across whatever systems they need.

At Wax Digital we recently launched web3 Connect – our own iPaaS – which easily connects best-of-breed eProcurement software with any relevant third-party data source – from ERP and finance software to business data sources and even social media.

It is only by building a robust and flexible integration tool that as a software provider we can ensure that customers have freedom of choice and integration doesn’t become a barrier to their (and our) success. When presented with a best-of-breed procurement business case the IT function can be assured of robust, secure integration that is highly visible and allows them to control, deploy and manage interfaces to and from different systems.

On-demand source-to-pay solutions are built for making procurement’s processes and functions as easy as possible to adapt and use. In an increasingly connected enterprise world iPaaS will make business processes smoother, more efficient and allow procurement functions to be masters of their own destiny from a technology point of view.


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