Fuelled by a fiercely competitive business environment that requires the pace of business and
technology to accelerate, companies need to adapt to change faster, and their IT departments
must deliver innovative technology solutions rapidly and at a lower cost. As a result, companies
are adopting Software as a Service (SaaS) applications to address these challenges, in particular
for reducing costs of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions.
SaaS CRM solutions are an attractive alternative to traditional on-premise complex CRM
applications because they allow organizations to rapidly meet the changing needs of the
business. They appeal to IT because of the lower number of resources needed for deployment
and to business users because they’re able to start using these new systems quickly. Further,
everybody likes subscription pricing because it means fewer budgetary issues get in the way of
procuring the new application. It’s no surprise then that SaaS solutions or on demand
applications, as they are often known, are spreading rapidly within companies today.
Deploying SaaS applications does not come without its challenges however, and SaaS CRM
solutions are no different. Many IT departments tend to become frustrated soon after they start
using a SaaS application because the critical business information they need is not accessible
from the new system. This information exists in highly customized on-premise back-end systems
such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and financial applications. In order to realize the full
benefit of SaaS CRM solutions, this challenge must be addressed, and it often becomes a bigger
hurdle than anybody anticipated.
The fact is application integration has become the Achilles heel in getting the most from SaaS
adoption. This paper highlights the integration issues specific to SaaS applications, in particular,
SaaS CRM solutions and explores three integration approaches to solving these problems.