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Anytime you go into adopting a new technology, there are a variety of ways to integrate the new platform into your workflow. Many applications can plug right into programs or platforms that are commonly used together – these are typically referred to as “out-of-the-box” and can be implemented with little-to-no extra cost.

When we’re talking about a cloud-based program, the native options are often diverse and many. DocuSign alone offers 350 cloud-based out-of-the-box integrations, often covering a broad swathe of company needs.

On the other end of the spectrum are custom integrations, which include everything that isn’t plug-and-play with other platforms or programs. On top of that, though, custom integrations also include complex integrations, where a middleware or technology bridge, if you will, is needed to connect your new technology with existing technology.

What Are Out-of-the-Box Integrations?

Pre-packaged options are the epitome of convenient and, if they fit your needs, can be the easiest and most direct route to take when updating technology. They’re typically budget-friendly and have faster deployment times – near immediate gratification always provides a solid hit of serotonin.

A hand is popping out of a white box holding an array of colored pencils.

Out-of-the-box solutions provide the exact thing you need without customization. 

Just because these options are budget-friendly or included doesn’t mean there’s a lack of functionality or value. Out-of-the-box integrations are designed to seamlessly mesh two programs – take for instance, DocuSign and Salesforce.

Salesforce is a Customer Relations Management platform (CRM) used by sales teams globally. It helps sales people and customer service reps manage company relationships throughout the lifetime of a customer or client, aggregating client data, emails, purchases/services, and holds contracts info.

Weaving DocuSign into this process expands the CRMs capabilities, making it not just a repository for signed documents, but also the place where they prepared, signed, acted on, and managed.

This integration comes ready to rock and roll – as long as you have both programs, they can be integrated and you can immediately gain all of the advantages that come with meshing them.

What Are Custom Integrations?

A custom integration includes anything that doesn’t come “out-of-the-box,” like connecting two cloud applications that aren’t already designed to fit together.

How it works? Well… that gets a little bit trickier.

For out-of-the-box integrations, it’s a simple matter. It’s like ordering a pre-made, easy “build” table – all of the wood comes finished and pre-slotted and all you have to do is hammer the legs into the tabletop. You’re ready to enjoy a nice meal on your new table, all benefits included.

Custom integrations take a lot more time and consideration – and the odds of being able to handle the integration in-house get substantially lower.

In this analogy, the wood is raw and all the same length because we’re building this table from scratch. It needs to be planed and cut to both size and shape. Most importantly, though, it isn’t pre-slotted. The pieces need to be attached with wood glue or nails or screws.

A woodworker sanding down a piece of decorative wood to their desired shape.

It’s the same with custom integrations – there usually needs to be a connector. The most common form of connector is middleware. It functions like a bridge, taking data from one program, translating it, and sending it over to the other program, and possibly vice versa, depending on your needs.

More complicated, just like building a table from raw wood.

If it’s so complicated, why do it? Are custom integrations really necessary?

Well, most of the time, it can be argued that, yes, custom integrations are quite worth it. Three primary benefits are:

When systems aren’t integrated, it usually requires a lot more manual labor from teams. There’s the issue of maintaining two different databases (often with identical information) and coordinating cross-team efforts without visibility into the full process, a prospect that’s frustrating at the very least.

There are ways to get around needing a custom integration, including putting a team member in charge of merging and vetting data in both systems, hiring a Virtual Assistant to handle it, or using a Wizard of Oz prototype, where you make it look like work is being handled by a software, but it’s manually taken care of by individuals. These don’t apply in every situation, and still cost time and money.

Ultimately, the real kicker with workarounds for custom integrations, though, is that they aren’t easily (if at all) scalable.

Integrating systems allows you to choose your single source of truth, the one that feeds all other systems, which makes the data reliable and consistent. It also:

  • Saves time by streamlining data collection
  • Eliminates human error in duplicate entries
  • Creates a seamless experience for the end-user

Other, platform-specific perks apply, too. In the case of DocuSign, for instance, it allows for a faster contracting process within (what feels like) a single system.

What’s Right for Me?

It can be difficult to plot a path to integration – let us help. We can make your implementation and integration easy.

Spaulding Ridge is the #1 DocuSign implementer, and we’re proud to say that we can perform end-to-end custom integrations, as well as pre-built packages that fill a variety of needs.

Our dedicated integration team is capable of advising and developing integration plans for a variety of needs, with our engineers and developers coming from a variety of backgrounds, including full-stack and .NET. We can also bring in our Data and Analytics team to architect, develop, and implement an end-to-end integration between DocuSign and your source system.

We’ll help you reach your goal of better data integrity, a seamless user experience, and remarkable efficiency.

Ready to develop a path to DocuSign integration? Reach out to Alisha Ahuja.

Alisha Ahuja
Manager in Data & Analytics , Spaulding Ridge
About the Author

Alisha Ahuja leads the Data and Analytics efforts at Spaulding Ridge.