Embedded API integration is a significant trend across the software management universe that's used by marquee-brand independent software vendors, like Salesforce and Red Hat, to break through data access and delivery barriers. Now, API integration has arrived in professional services automation platforms.
Designed for service organizations, such as law firms and nonprofits, professional services automation (PSA) software provides resource management, project management and project billing capabilities for enterprise applications. Organizations typically implement PSA platforms in silos and invest in integration PaaS (iPaaS) or integration middleware to connect with enterprise applications via prebuilt integration APIs.
Mavenlink, a cloud PSA platform provider in Irvine, Calif., hopes to bridge this connectivity gap with M-Bridge, an OpenAPI integration platform to help businesses standardize the data flow between operational platforms. Partner or customer integrations built into Mavenlink using M-Bridge are approved and added to other packaged integrations for other customers to use.
Systems of record, such as sales and financial systems, are typical uses for M-Bridge prebuilt integrations. Examples include integration with an accounting system to help manage and monitor expenses, project billings and a project burn rate; or link with a customer relationship management system to provide alerts about critical needs, such as new staffing requirements for delivering a project.
John Ragsdalevice president of service technology research, TSIA
Most PSA vendors publish integration APIs and packaged integrations to enterprise applications, such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. M-Bridge fills PSA users' need for standardized API-based integration, which can allow reuse of integration models from one project to another, said John Ragsdale, vice president of service technology research for TSIA, an IT research firm in San Diego.
Connecting API integration to software management tools hits business users' sweet spot for functionality and pricing, which sits between a simple set of published integration APIs on the low end and enterprise-level iPaaS and integration middleware on the other. PSA is the latest sector of software management tools enhanced with enterprise-level API integration. Earlier this year, Salesforce added standardized API integration capabilities to its software line with its MuleSoft acquisition, and Red Hat fused integration capabilities into its 3Scale API management product.
API integration increased reusability, speed
Ragsdale said he frequently hears PSA software adopters complain about unmet ROI expectations, the causes of which are blamed on siloed data, too many applications and lack of adoption by employees averse to navigate them.
"Streamlining application integration should help companies include more integrations in the initial phase of the implementation, boosting time to value for the project, as well as employee adoption," he said.
M-Bridge's prebuilt integrations will help reduce the time to link the Mavenlink platform with other software platforms, said Kim Bernall, product manager at Talisys, a financial sector independent software vendor in Golden, Colo., which uses Mavenlink for resource management during project delivery lifecycles. Each Talisys development project involves the same repetitive tasks; Mavenlink PSA already allows the company to standardize process across projects and monitor and track project activities.
"M-Bridge is going to help us organize the API calls that we're using now in a more integrated fashion," Bernall said. Talisys started using OpenAPI over a year ago and with Mavenlink's support created documentation for use cases. "I am so much more self-sufficient in looking at the documentation and creating calls on my own," she said.