How To Guide: Determine Which Integrations to Build

By Brian Wones in SaaS Integration, Enterprise Integration Posted Jan 4, 2019

Now that you have your dream team in place and have identified or even built your first integration, you are probably wondering, "what should we build next?" With thousands of SaaS providers in the market and a seemingly limitless number of databases, technology options, vendor-specific APIs, private API.....the list goes on, it can be daunting to figure out which integrations will deliver the most value for you and your customers.

With so many options, how can you really figure out what is going to move the needle for your business? Like most software companies, you don’t have unlimited resources and therefore need to prioritize what you will work on next. What follows are best practices that we have seen from our partners, vendors, and current customers.

By working with 200+ of today's leading software and enterprise companies, we have learned that the best option is to ask your team!

Here's why: Internal stakeholders typically have a great sense of what needs to exist amongst your customers and prospects. These internal team members aren’t always great at filtering this feedback back to the product team and therefore it never makes it on the backlog. It requires a bit of digging but asking your various teams can really shed light on items that may make a big impact. Below is the list of key teams that have the best insight.

INTERNAL TEAMS

Cloud Elements | Sales Team

Sales

Ask your Sales team members and leaders.  As they are incentivized to close as many deals as possible, the sales team is keenly aware of what items come up during sales cycles that either help or hurt them. Integrations are table stakes in most sales cycles these days and so the topic is usually heavily discussed. They will have a great idea of which integrations come up the most often, which would move the needle most with products, and which use cases are most commonly requested.

Sales Engineering

Sales Engineers end up in the nitty-gritty of most sales cycles.  Ask them what they see requested most often. You will likely see an overlap with what the sales team is saying.

Cloud Elements | Sales Engineering
Cloud Elements | Professional Services

Professional Services

Most of our customers have professional services teams and most of those teams complete custom work for their customers.  Many of these projects are custom integrations between your product and an endpoint. These point to point integrations are exactly what you are trying to avoid as they are costly to build (for both you and your customer), they are difficult to maintain (asking your customer to pay for this ongoing is tough), and they can create churn risk (what happens when the custom integration stops working?)

Professional services team members are good at understanding the underlying pain of the endpoints and can provide some key insights on what the most common use cases are, which endpoints are easy/hard, and which are the most common.

Customer Success

Finally, Customer Success.  As this is your gateway to the customer, this team is typically the next group to hear about integration and functionality requests.  Typically in the form of an enhancement or product feature request. You account managers (typically carrying a quota) can share out specific examples of where they could upsell/cross-sell a customer if they just had XYZ integration available or ABC functionality in a current integration together.

 Cloud Elements | Customer Success

So what is the best way to ask?

Just going around the office and asking your team members what they think is all well and good, but it would be easier/smarter to record this data somewhere. That way you can review it later, build and update your roadmap, and provide reporting to executives.

GATHERING FEEDBACK
One common practice we see is the use of survey software like SurveyMonkey, Typeform, or a simple Google Form.  Your product management team can still partner with the teams above, they can simply record their feedback in one of these surveys so that the data is stored and ready for analysis.

By using a survey tool, you enable another great avenue for feedback, your customers! We recommend using the same survey and questions that you used with your internal teams, with your customers. That way the data flows into the database in the same format, with the same questions. This method makes analysis and trend identification much easier.

While you're compiling your feedback survey, here are some key questions to consider:

1. Which integrations are necessary (duh!)?

The root of the question is WHICH tool do they want you to connect with (i.e. Marketo, Netsuite, Salesforce). You need to determine which tools your customers are using and expecting.

2. What should these integrations do? 

This is a much more challenging question to get worded correctly but is key to your success. You need to understand what the customers are expecting the integration to do. Unless your business is really straightforward, it’s likely that you have a wide pool of use cases you could support and your customers are expecting that your integrations will also support those same use cases.  

There have been tons of blogs written on the right tools, topics, questions, and timing for customer surveys. So I won’t try to re-invent the wheel here. Take that survey and send out to your customers. Make sure to hit the key contacts, technical resources, executives on your customer’s side. That way the results you get back are varied and are across a wide spectrum of interests.

Now What?!?

FEEDBACK ANALYSIS
So now you have all of this data from your internal teams and your customers, what the heck do you do with all of this data? This is where the genius of making each survey the same set of questions/answers becomes more apparent. You may find obvious answers right out the gate as you analyze the feedback. Where there is obvious overlap between what your internal team needs and what your individual customers are asking for. If it’s this easy, pick the top 3 integration targets and use cases and get working.

What if it’s not so obvious? Good question. What we have seen teams do is honestly just pick something that they think will make the biggest impact in terms of driving business value. Sometimes the action is more important than careful planning. If the results aren’t perfectly clear, make a decision and go for it. You may be surprised how many people pick up an integration once it’s available, even if they never asked for it.

Whichever direction you choose, focus on building out the MVP of the integration first, and getting it back in the hands of those customers that requested it. Since you used that nice survey tool to capture feedback, you should have an easy time identifying which customers requested a certain integration. Ask those customers to give you feedback on the integration. Use this as an opportunity to reconnect with the customer and demonstrate to them that you are listening and adjusting to their needs.

With so many options available to your customers, selecting the best integration to build next can be daunting. Hopefully, the guidance above will help you and your product team build out a stellar integration roadmap. If you're looking for even more guidance on your integration roadmap, we'd love to connect. Contact one of our integration specialists by clicking below. 

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