Most of our work at Dispatch involves designing, developing and implementing pretty sophisticated integrations for our clients. Whether we are working on enterprise-grade HR, Finance, ERP, CRM, Internet of Things or any other functional systems, clients rely on us to develop resilient, secure and high-performance integrations that automate workflow, improve efficiency, and unlock new capabilities.
Almost all our integrations involve complex data transformation and enrichment, advanced logic, high volume capacity, error handling and recovery, and user notification logic. Our integrations are all built to handle highly sensitive and confidential data, including Personally Identifiable Information and Private Health Information. We build these integrations on platforms our clients may already use, such as Mulesoft, Workato, and Workday Studio. In many cases, we also use our own specialized integration platform Handshake, which is a lightweight and flexible solution that doesn’t compromise on security and performance.
We are a much smaller company than most of our clients, yet we have some of the same workflow issues our clients do. We are cloud-centric, which means we manage our business largely through our browsers. Even though we are small, we use at least 25 cloud applications, all of which are generators, transformers or consumers of data from our other applications.
We rely on integrations between our systems to ensure efficient workflows. Most SME-centric applications recognize that they exist within larger app-ecosystems, and therefore build this capability directly into their solution. For instance, we use Harvest as our time tracking and invoicing system. Harvest is integrated with Forecast, which is our capacity planning and forecasting tool. Harvest also integrates with Quickbooks, which is our accounting system, Freshdesk which is our customer service system and Azure Devops, which is our development management platform. Almost all of these, in turn, are integrated with Slack which is our essential internal communications platform. These integrations help our systems work in harmony, avoid manual data entry, and enable us to rely on single systems of truth for specific types of information.
In many cases, while there are simple integrations available out of the box for the applications we use, our workflow requires more advanced integrations than the out-of-the-box integrations contemplate. That’s where solutions like Workato really shine for us. We are a Workato partner and we use this platform to build incredibly scalable integrations for some of the largest and fastest growing companies in the world. We also use it to help solve workflow automation problems we experience ourselves.
For example, to provide better service to our clients we use Workato to enable workflow between Freshdesk, Twilio and Slack.
We provide operational support for the solutions we build for many of our clients. This means we are responsible to respond and resolve any issues with integrations in production as well as monitor the overall health and performance of our client’s integration portfolio. Some of these integrations are mission critical, and many of our clients are located in Europe, Australia, and across North America. This means we need to be able to respond to critical issues quickly at any time of the day or night.
Freshdesk is at the center of our technical support function, acting as a means to ticket, triage and assign issues to the right person in our company to resolve. But because we are a small company, we don’t staff our helpdesk 24/7. To help us provide the service levels our customers expect, we have our developers rotate being on-call after hours and on weekends. This certainly is a great incentive to ensure our solutions are built with high quality. But we also commit to our clients to quickly react to problems whenever they occur. And anyone who has ever spent time in IT knows the most pernicious problems always seem to occur after 5:00pm on Fridays. To help us react quickly to these issues we built our own cross-system automation.
We use Workato’s built-in Freshdesk connector to monitor for urgent tickets that come in. If a new urgent ticket is received during off-hours, Workato processes that ticket and initiates an automated phone call using Twilio to the developer on-duty. The call includes all the relevant information the developer needs to be able to respond quickly – even if it is at 2:00 am. Workato continues to monitor the ticket, and if it hasn’t been responded to within an hour (in case the developer is a deep sleeper), it initiates escalation calls to second responders and managers, all the way to the CTO. Through these steps, Workato also sends messages via Slack to all the people who could react to this ticket. And when the ticket has been formally responded to in Freshdesk, Workato sends an update through Slack to let everyone know.
Workato is the perfect platform to build this type of integration. It was built and tested in about 2 hours and Workato is a rock-solid system that we know won’t fail. As a result, we can give our clients confidence that we will respond to critical issues at any time of the day or night.
We further enhanced this solution with additional integrations between AWS, Workday and Elasticsearch built with our own platform Handshake. These integrations allow us to automatically monitor systems in AWS and our clients’ Workday integration portfolios. We established early warning triggers for systems that may be destabilizing and auto-generate support tickets that route to Freshdesk. If certain thresholds are passed or critical issues are detected, the solution auto-generates Urgent tickets in Freshdesk, which our Workato integration then escalates until resolved. In addition to reacting to specific events, this integration captures all performance and usage metadata automatically for each system it monitors and routes it to Elasticsearch. Elastic is a great platform to present an overall operational dashboard for our clients to review all events, monitor system health and assess historical performance.
These integrations do far more than provide some efficiency, they provide us the means to provide service as if we are a much larger company. For our clients, they give peace of mind and transparency that they often find difficult to get, even with much larger service providers. In some sense, they’ve given us superpowers.
If you think there are opportunities like this in your company, please contact us. Whether your company is a puppy or a Saint Bernard, we may be able to unlock some integration superpowers for you too.
Cameron Hay is the CEO of Dispatch Integration, a data integration and workflow automation company with clients in Canada, US, Europe and Australia. He has over 30 years of leadership experience in various technology-oriented industries.