Question

Built-in automations vs. dedicated automation workflow software?

Tools like Zapier, IFTTT, Integromat, and more make it easy to connect data between apps and get work done automatically.

But sometimes they're not needed. It's increasingly common for software to have not just built-in integrations, but also full workflow builder tools. Slack, Calendly, and Airtable are all among the apps with new built-in workflow tools.

Have you found the built-in automation features enough to ditch dedicated automated workflow software? Or do you still use tools like Zapier to work faster?

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jumbld's avatar
12d

I feel it's a combination of in-built automations and then using Zapier on top for the primary reason that every app might not have all the possible integrations I need.

That being said.. Automation - definitely a feature in 2020.

3 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @jumbld )
12d

That feels like a good strategy: Max out what you can do with built-in integrations, go to Zapier or alternatives for the rest.

2 points
StuJLans's avatar
@StuJLans (via Twitter)
13d

The Airtable update flow is kinda powerful. As the Zapier integration will only trigger on the first time it is updated and then not again, Airtable in built will trigger each time so a lot better in that regard / chink in armor of the Zap integration

2 points
NoCodeJac's avatar
@NoCodeJac (via Twitter)
13d

My philosophy is go for the simplest route (with the least tools) possible until it either breaks or becomes too expensive to ignore.

Typically that means starting with zapier and then moving to integromat (and then i suspect @AutocodeHQ).

2 points
optemization's avatar

I do all my "glue" stuff in Zapier or Parabola or Integromat (less). Have not found the time or will to learn the internally offered tools like the Slack Workflow Builder. In the case of Paperform automatic exporter, I found it to be more limited than the Zapier offering.

2 points
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @optemization )
12d

You nailed it for me; there's already the inertia of using integration tools I know, so I haven't dug deeper. The only ones where built-in integrations often make more sense is with products in the same ecosystem, e.g. if I want form data in a spreadsheet I'm more likely to just use Google Forms where it auto-saves to Google Sheets rather than using something else and automating the data transfer. It's those most simple, 1-1 integrations that are easiest to replace with built-in stuff. The more complex multi-step workflows with filters and more feel far less likely to be able to fully replace.

1 point
andywingrave's avatar
@andywingrave (via Twitter)
13d

Still yet to find anything that's as good to be honest... Middleware solves a problem that will honestly never go away. Ultimately as the market matures it makes sense for apps to build integrations/"automation" - But not all can/will

1 point
iCanAutomate's avatar

As much as I love Integromat (used to head growth there), I always opt for built-in automation to see if it does the job. It's just more efficient in terms of time and money both. So yeah, a lot more competition for Integromat/Zapier et all.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @iCanAutomate )
12d

Interesting to hear! It was absolutely an adjustment for me, after being on the Zapier team, to not have unlimited Zapier usage and thus be more conservative in how I use it. And now that built-in automations are more powerful, feels like an increasingly good option.

Randomly curious: Did you have any IFTTT automations when you joined Integromat, and did you keep those around? Know a number of my Zapier colleagues (myself included) had personal use-cases for IFTTT, though it always seemed slightly funny using the competition even if only on personal accounts.

1 point
iCanAutomate's avatar
@iCanAutomate (replying to @maguay )
12d

I get that and I too miss having unlimited Integromat usage (my account had 1M ops per month!

I actually did for sometime but then eventually got rid of it. I am not really into "smart" devices so my need was fulfilled by Integromat well.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @iCanAutomate )
12d

Same; literally the only thing I use Alexa for is playing Spotify, and Siri only gets used to set alarm clocks. Though IFTTT had Instapaper integrations for a while when Zapier didn’t, so that was what kept me using it.

2 points
iCanAutomate's avatar
@iCanAutomate (replying to @maguay )
11d

Haha same!

1 point
devil_danii's avatar

These automations are really powerful but it restricts you to the platform and the workflows that they have designed or has access to the API. Sometimes the automation we need may and may not be available on these platforms. For this reason alone I have created almost all the workflows (that I need) and automation myself and hosted them for my personal use.

And honestly, these workflows are not very tough to create you can build almost any automation by yourself. Although, it will be consuming more time of yours than what you will spend on these platforms but looking at the bigger picture this will be a whole lot more fruitful.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @devil_danii )
12d

What automation tool do you default to using the most?

1 point
devil_danii's avatar
@devil_danii (replying to @maguay )
10d

I create and test out workflows on zapier, integromat etc and after I have validated the idea I create my own app(for personal use) and host it on the server.

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @devil_danii )
7d

Oh interesting, so you're using no-code tools basically in your mockup/mvp stage, then turning it into code when it goes into production. That's one way to save on automation tools!

With coding your own app, is that from scratch, or do you have any tools to help build self-hosted automations?

1 point
devil_danii's avatar
@devil_danii (replying to @maguay )
7d

Yeah, you are right, I find this way easier. About the coding, I have created boilerplate codes which I use every time to create webhooks and another kind of automation. Having those boilerplate codes makes it faster for me and ease my work. Ofc in the start it takes a lot of time to get that boilerplate codes in place but honestly I loved that journey.

2 points
rpatools's avatar
10d

I think either having your own iPaaS or integrating with another is the key to operational excellence in the next 5 years. All SMBs will touch one while right now that number is less than 5%!

1 point
maguay's avatar
@maguay (replying to @rpatools )
7d

That points to some strong growth potential for existing integration services if so.

What leads you to think most SMBs will use an iPaaS instead of relying on built-in integrations, even as the latter are rapidly improving?

1 point
pendolino's avatar

This is a major gripe for me starting with the fact that there's no consistency between apps, platforms, integration tools, etc. Some automations are much easier to set than others depending on the available APIs etc. The only 3rd party tool that I somewhat rely on is Zapier (mostly for work).

I always prefer built-in automations in Slack, Airtable, etc since they tend to be more robust but they are usually limited and slow from experience.

1 point
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