DigEguide: what ‘full integration’ really means
Governments have undergone significant digital advancement over the last few decades, in a bid to ‘keep up with modernization, according to Deloitte’s 2021 digital transformation survey. Indeed, the transformation of front-end services has been a priority, yet some have overlooked the issues with underlying government operations, processes, and systems, which support these vital citizen services.
The backend systems that you use every day are critical to completing your role and no doubt, these systems make your life easier and are much more efficient than paper processes. However, if these systems were integrated, or “spoke to each other”, it would remove the toggling between systems. Downloading documents from one system, to upload into another.
Integration between systems creates a seamless path of communication to ensure your systems are fit for purpose establishing a future-proof foundation for your organization. It increases productivity, efficiency, boosting employee satisfaction, as well as improving the citizen experience. It all sounds too good to be true…
The downside – the process involved in integration can be a headache, with many components that need to fall into place. Company and individual team buy-in are essential for success, identifying the right solution is critical, and there are a lot of different types of integration that can impact functionality, ease of deployment, and intuitiveness. Sound complex? – yes!
Custom integrations vs Third-party connectors vs Productized integrations
Let’s start at the beginning. When choosing a software look at how integration is conducted…
So, what is a custom integration? Simply put, it means building a custom software solution that is specific to your exact use case. A custom integration usually needs to be developed at a cost to the customer, because a connector or productized integration doesn’t already exist.
How does custom integration work? This is where the ‘custom’ comes into the equation. Each integration is different and, in most cases, creating the code needed to build a custom integration requires the expertise of a skilled developer. Of course, there is a level of risk associated with this, have they developed something similar? Will it work?
Often another concern with custom integrations is that once the integration goes live into production, there is no one accountable to maintain or support that integration. What happens when one of the solutions upgrades its version and the integration needs to be redeveloped? The customer will then need to pay an additional cost to redevelop the integration, therefore this is the more expensive option.
Typically, there is a high level of risk and significant cost when it comes to custom integrations, and the performance of the actual integration can also be called into question. It’s worth asking yourself if you really need a custom-built integration.
Prebuilt connectors that are supported and maintained by a third party will certainly address a lot of the risks that one would experience when going down the custom integration route. A customer using a third-party prebuilt connector will also save money when compared to custom integrations, as there would be no charge for the creation since the integration already exists.
Connectors are great alternatives when productized integrations are not available. Usually, a customer will pay the third-party connector company an annual fee for maintenance and support of the connector, once again removing the risks highlighted by using a custom integration. However, a significant downside of third-party connectors is the extra cost you are now paying on an annual basis for the support and maintenance of the connector. More often than not, there is also an additional installation charge for the connector.
If going down the third-party route, make sure you understand the reliability of the integration and research extensively from an IT, operations, legal, and security perspective. With third-party integrations, there is the potential that you will have to work with multiple companies. It’s important to understand the infrastructure to effectively navigate support issues, ensuring the integration is kept up to date as new features come in, and everything aligns with what is expected from the organization.
Product integration is specific to a product i.e., government platforms such as Accela, Cityworks, and Infor. The assembly of this kind of integration ensures both software and systems work cohesively with each other, without adverse emergent behaviors. Developing, maintaining, and supporting integrations of this caliber is a lot of effort. Although the better option, you see a lot of software companies not investing in productized integrations as it costs a significant amount of time and money.
There’s integration and then there’s DigEplan integration
DigEplan takes a unique approach to productized integration. We take what most would see as a challenge, and we turned it into our advantage. We reinvest 30% of our resources back into research and development every year, which is why we’ve been able to create tightly knitted productized integrations between our product and our government platform partners.
With a true ‘full integration’, DigEplan leverages the workflow, data, and document management, of over 20 government platforms worldwide to give government employees and citizens the most seamless and efficient permitting process possible, as well as help agencies, save time and money.
“We looked at a number of solutions but chose DigEplan because of the compatibility with Accela. We liked how DigEplan and Accela worked seamlessly, no toggling back and forth between systems, and everything was recorded on one record.” Ann Damian, Accela Project Manager, Douglas County
With a fully productized integrated system, DigEplan customers get all the benefits and risk aversions, without the extra costs of the other integrations.