A guide to embedded workflow tools

As organizations look to move away from native integrations, or integrations that are built and maintained by in-house engineers, they can look to a number of different categories of solutions for help.

One of these categories can be an embedded workflow solution, otherwise known as an embedded integration platform as a service (iPaaS).  

To help you decide whether it’s the right type of tool for your business, we’ll review how it works, its benefits and drawbacks, and some popular vendors to choose from. But first, let’s align on what an embedded workflow means.

What is an embedded workflow?

It’s either a data sync or workflow automation between your product and clients’ 3rd-party applications. These syncs or automations are powered by a 3rd-party solution that’s often referred to as an embedded iPaaS. 

A visualization of an embedded iPaaS

Related: How do embedded integration platforms work?

Embedded workflow use cases

Here are just a few common ways to use an embedded workflow tool:

Incident management

Imagine that your product can help organizations identify security vulnerabilities. 

Using an embedded workflow solution, you can help organizations identify and respond to any vulnerabilities faster. For example, you can integrate your product with a business communications platform like Slack and build a workflow that operates as follows: Any time your product identifies a particular type of incident, a message gets sent to a specific Slack channel that details it.

Automated user provisioning

To help your clients’ users get onboarded to your product and begin adopting it within a short timeframe, you can use an embedded workflow tool to connect your product with the clients’ HRIS tool (e.g. Workday) and build an automated provisioning sync. Here’s how it can work: any time a new employee gets added to the HRIS, they’re also added to your product with the appropriate set of permissions (as defined in your product). 

A visual representation of a new user getting added to an application

Related: Examples of workflow integration

Benefits of embedded workflows

Here are just a few of the benefits from using an embedded workflow solution:

Improves close rates for new business

By offering the integrations your prospects need, you’re giving them one more reason to pick you over rivals—especially when your rivals don’t offer (or plan to offer) those requested integrations.

Increases your customer retention rate

As clients use your product integrations, they’ll likely see more value from your platform. This can take the form of provisioning or deprovisioning users automatically, accessing more in-depth analytics, or initiating critical in-product workflows on time.

Given the additional value that comes with adopting your integrations, your clients are more likely to stay on longer and even increase their level of spending on your services.

Enables you to expand into new markets

As you look to move upmarket or enter new regions, you’ll likely find that the organizations in these target markets use different sets of applications. If your organization can provide the integrations your target markets want, you’re more likely to gain traction and see success.

Related: The benefits of using embedded iPaaS tools

Drawbacks of embedded workflows

Embedded workflow solutions aren’t without their drawbacks.

Requires technical expertise to use

While they might claim to be “low-code” (some tools might even say they’re “no-code”), they, more often than not, require substantial technical expertise to use. 

This ultimately forces your engineers to play a leading role in building integrations and automations with the solution, while the rest of your employees are forced to sit on the sidelines and make requests.

Forces you to build one integration at a time

As you gain more clients, the number of integration requests you receive will only grow exponentially. And while the embedded workflow tool might be able to meet this demand at the onset, your engineers will eventually feel overwhelmed and be unable to keep up with clients’ requests.

Lacks robust integration maintenance and management capabilities

Integrations will, inevitably, break. When they do, your team needs to become aware of the issue as soon as possible. Moreover, your team will need to be able to diagnose the issue and understand how you can go about resolving it. 

Embedded workflow tools may have some analytics that help you track performance, such as failed syncs; but they don’t provide the deeper, actionable insights your team needs to serve clients effectively.

A screenshot of Merge's Dashboard detecting an issue
Using Merge’s dashboard, users can automatically identify and diagnose issues as well as pinpoint the specific steps for resolving it.  

Related: How embedded workflow tools compare to unified API solutions

Embedded workflow tools

As you navigate the market, you’ll likely come across larger companies, namely Tray.io and Workato, that offer an integration platform as a service in addition to embedded solutions. You’ll also find more niche players, like Cyclr and Paragon, that only offer an embedded iPaaS. In some cases, these smaller vendors may also only cater to specific industries (e.g. Alloy Automation only served the e-commerce industry until recently). 

There are subtle and somewhat important differences between these vendors, but they generally provide the same benefits as they offer the same approach to integration.

A unified API, which is an aggregated API that lets you offer a whole category of software integrations (e.g. CRM), neatly addresses the drawbacks of the embedded iPaaS approach.

Illustration of a unified API

It lets you integrate at scale, as you simply need to build to a single API to access several, if not dozens, of integrations. 

In the case Merge, the leading unified API solution, you can also access several categories of integrations, from CRM to HRIS to file storage; monitor and manage integrations effectively through Merge’s fully-searchable logs and automated issue detection capabilities, and sync a comprehensive set of data using Merge’s Common Models and advanced features, like Field Mapping and Authenticated Passthrough Request.

Learn more about Merge by scheduling a demo with one of our integration experts.