By Bret Tushaus, VP Product Management, Deltek
The Integration Need
We live in a time when digital transformation, the popularity of best-of-breed solutions, and app-centricity are making technology-based systems more ubiquitous in the workplace than ever. As a result, the availability and accessibility of solutions for all parts of a business are constantly increasing and evolving. This, combined with an increased comfort level from many companies seeking out and adopting such solutions, is creating an amplified focus on automating, adding intelligence to and digitizing business processes and data consumption. However, this prevalence to further digitally transform within companies also creates more opportunities for both data and processes to become disconnected. Rarely will the data and processes that support a business be constrained to a single system.
Consider the process of winning new business. Typically, business development efforts can involve systems focused on lead generation, CRM, marketing automation, data visualization and accounting. Or consider all of the tasks around finding and hiring new employees. This process often involves solutions related to job postings, requisition and candidate management, learning management, on-boarding and ERP. There are numerous other examples pervasive across all businesses. And while Deltek certainly offers single solutions that can cover the lifecycle of many business processes, it is still safe to say that few business processes and/or data will be served entirely from a single system. This is why Deltek's product portfolio, in some cases, includes multiple separate systems that collectively serve end-to-end business needs.
This propensity for having separate systems to support the broad needs of every business also creates the potential for data silos, duplicate or redundant efforts, reduced efficiency and lack of visibility into key data. And, in turn, can slow both the delivery pace of your business and stifle informed decision-making. All of this points to the importance of a key capability on the minds of and important to every business these days – the ability to easily and intelligently integrate disparate systems so that they behave and support your business in an optimized and unified way.
Our Foundation of Integration Capabilities
At Deltek, we are very familiar with the integration needs across the industries we serve and have been meeting those needs in various ways since our inception. Whether through broad API coverage, extensibility functionality, or pre-built integrations, our customers have always had options to integrate their Deltek solutions with each other or with third-party systems.
The availability and coverage of APIs have been a consistent part of our product development philosophy. Today, all of the core products within Deltek’s product portfolio provide APIs to programmatically access key functionality and data. These API capabilities serve many purposes but are especially critical when building integrations – and provide that path into our products to create connectivity to other systems.
In addition to API coverage, many of our core products also offer substantial extensibility capabilities that can serve integration needs. For example, when a customer has a unique functional need, our industry-leading products can be extended to meet very specific requirements in a way consistent with aPaaS (application platform as a service) solutions. It can be as simple as the addition of user-defined fields or something more complex; such as support for expanded business logic in a specific area of the system or an entire custom application within the Deltek product. The ability to extend our products to meet specific customer needs is a direct enabler of integrations and creates flexibility around processes and data that can be shared with other Deltek or third party solutions.
Finally, our product portfolio includes hundreds of out-of-the-box integrations with many industry-standard solutions to create efficiencies within processes and data shared across multiple systems. For example, the standard integration between Deltek Costpoint and Deltek Talent Management enables project-based businesses to share relevant data between the two systems and minimizes redundant data entry. Or the Deltek Vantagepoint integration with QuickBooks® Online enables organizations to utilize the industry-leading front-office functionality of Vantagepoint while retaining their general ledger solution. And, the standard integrations between Deltek Project Information Management and general ledger solutions from Xero and Sage afford companies of all sizes the flexibility to share key project billing processes between their two systems. These are just a few examples across Deltek’s portfolio, but they certainly represent the expanse of the many out-of-the-box integrations standard within our products.
As you can see, we have an extensive foundation for supporting the broad integration needs of Deltek Project Nation. This has been, and remains, a core competency and guiding principle of Deltek since day one. However, with integration needs constantly developing and evolving, we know we can do more to bring even more value to organizations in the context of connectivity and bringing disparate systems together.
Our Integration Initiative and Value Drivers
For these reasons, we are very excited to announce an initiative that will massively expand and take Deltek’s integration capabilities to an entirely new level by adding a dedicated integration platform to Deltek’s product portfolio. This new platform will build on the foundation of integration capabilities Deltek already offers and increase the benefits our customers see exponentially. It will not only further enable integration capabilities across our industry-specific products, but it will also provide integration functionality with and between other point and best-of-breed solutions.
To best meet the broad integration needs of businesses large and small, we recognize this platform must be highly accessible, mainstream application-aware, easy-to-use, and simple to manage. And we understand, offering a solution that requires skillsets not readily present within most companies will do very little to solve integration needs. In addition, we realize that introducing an integration platform that does not have a community of connectivity capabilities with the most prevalent mainstream applications will make it very difficult for that platform to serve your everyday requirements.
As we embarked on this integration platform initiative, we explored and identified those basic must-have needs that would be most critical in delivering additional value to your project-based businesses. This resulted in a collection of five value drivers that we applied throughout this effort to ensure we develop the best possible platform for Deltek Project Nation:
The power of an integration platform lies in the ability to connect to mainstream, commonly used applications. As a result, a key consideration for us throughout this initiative revolved around delivering a platform that had very deep and broad coverage for relevant solutions. It is critical that when you look to build an integration that you can leverage a community of predefined connectors and find what is needed to connect to the applications you use in your business.
Productized Integrations and Build-Your-Own
To deliver the best experience, Deltek is approaching this initiative in two equally important ways. First, the platform will be leveraged to build integrations between our industry-specific products – building on existing integration functionality. This will enable more powerful and flexible integration capabilities for project-based businesses using multiple Deltek products. Second, we recognize the need to leverage an integration platform with the other systems you use to run your business. Therefore, the platform must be delivered in a way that enables you to easily build custom integrations between the applications that are most important to your operations.
Code-Less/Code-Light Solutions and Citizen Integrator
We recognize the need to serve the “citizen integrator” persona. A citizen integrator will typically have a deep understanding of the products they are looking to integrate but not possess code-writing skills or have deep technical knowledge of the integration platform. Therefore, our integration tools need to support a code-less and/or code-light approach that leverages the community of prebuilt content and employs a drag-and-drop interface for building integrations.
Balance of Power and Simplicity
While support for the citizen integrator is critical, power and sophistication cannot be sacrificed. The previously mentioned code-light approach must be complemented by a toolset that can support your robust, complex and extensive integration needs. It is certainly acceptable that this more advanced functionality requires a more extensive skillset from the person building the integration. Nonetheless, this balance between power and simplicity is key. Deltek’s platform needs to be simple where needed and powerful when required.
Deltek’s existing API stack will be extremely powerful and a key success factor in enabling the integration platform. However, we are also hyper-focused on using this initiative to further inform the API capabilities within the relevant products and expand and refine where necessary. This will help to ensure that the necessary connectivity and functionality will be available to support the most common integration use cases.
Progress and Call to Action
We’ve made significant progress on this initiative throughout 2021 and there is a lot of excitement around the value this will bring to Deltek Project Nation. Taking our integration capabilities to a new level will surely introduce new efficiencies and enhanced visibility into the businesses of our customers.
There is still more work to be done. Therefore, we are intent on delivering Deltek’s integration platform to the market very soon. While we are in the process of determining our exact rollout sequence, we are squarely focused on making the platform available across the entire Deltek product portfolio.
Be sure to join us at Virtual Deltek Insight 2021, September 14-15, for the Taking Deltek's Integration Strategy to the Next Level breakout session, where you can learn about this and so much more. We are excited to further innovate around Deltek's integration capabilities with an eye towards introducing new value and potential to help power your project success.
Virtual Deltek Insight 2021
Available Until October 28
About the Author
For more than ten years, Bret Tushaus has been responsible for leading the product strategy, roadmap and product management teams for Deltek Vantagepoint, Vision, Maconomy, Ajera, People Planner, PIM, ConceptShare and WorkBook. In 2014, he was made a Vice President within the Product Strategy organization and continues to focus on ways project-based ERP and other technology solutions can solve an organization’s operational pain points. Prior to joining Deltek, Bret spent 15 years at Eppstein Uhen Architects and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Connect with Bret on LinkedIn.
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