See why over 100 B2B SaaS companies are scaling their integration roadmaps with Paragon.
Meet Harbour, a contract management and e-signature platform that simplifies collaboration and workflow automation for businesses that send a high volume of contracts. Harbour has been committed to their vision of empowering automated workflows through integrating with the applications their customers already use. We spoke with Harbour’s COO Chris Crawford and lead engineer Caio Pizzol to learn more about their integration strategy, and how Paragon has transformed their ability to build a sustainable and scalable integration strategy .
From the Harbour API & webhooks, to embedding Zapier
“A more integrated customer is going to be a customer for a longer time at Harbour. We believe that invisibility is a superpower, so unlike some of our competitors, we don't want to force people to constantly come back to Harbour to do the things they need to do. We want to exist behind the scenes and focus on helping our customers get more business done.” - Chris
Harbour understood that making contract management self-service and easily integrated into their customer workflows was key to their success.
Strategically, they decided to take a stepwise approach towards achieving interoperability that minimized the engineering effort required on their end.
This all started with Harbour releasing a public API and webhooks that enabled their customers to build their own API integrations with Harbour. Their more technical customers immediately saw the immense value of their API and webhooks, and the team decided they needed to extend those benefits to all their customers. This led them to integrating Harbour with Zapier.
Integrating with Zapier unlocked the possibility for their customers to build automations/workflows between Harbour and ‘thousands’ of other applications without having to work directly with their APIs. However, they knew this was only a temporary solution - many of their customers are not technical, so the learning curve prevented Zapier from being a viable solution. Not only that, the fact that using Zapier requires customers to leave Harbour and pay for usage separately detracted from the customer experience Harbour strived for and removed their ability to upsell.
Harbour knew that this was still not the frictionless and user-friendly integration experience that the majority of their customers required - building native integrations was the only way to achieve that.
Caio has years of experience building and maintaining integrations from previous roles, and knew that building in-house would lead to two major challenges:
“I've worked on several different projects where we integrated with third party solutions, and we know that those integrations will evolve over time. So it's not only building the integration the first time, you actually need to maintain it and make sure it's healthy and stable." - Caio
For example, even maintaining the event-listeners for webhooks for each integration was already a challenge. “Webhooks can change from solution to solution. We have a few webhooks listeners that we custom built specifically for those solutions, but it's really hard to keep the listeners running if something changes in the way the solutions are sending those webhooks.” - Caio.
They knew from day one that they needed a solution that could help them offload the development of these native integrations, and started to look for a solution that would help combat these challenges.
“As a SaaS solution, Harbour really wants to focus on its core product to serve contract management. We leave the rest for more experienced solutions like Paragon.” - Caio.
Caio led the search and evaluation of tools, with a few key requirements.
These requirements led them to evaluate over a dozen Embedded iPaaS solutions, from which they shortlisted Paragon, Tray.io Embedded, Prismatic, and Cyclr to do in depth proof of concepts with.
After a rigorous side-by-side trial and evaluation of the four embedded iPaaS solutions, it became clear to Harbour that Paragon would be their integration platform of choice.
Given that all the providers checked the box from a security perspective (SOC 2 certified), the decision came down to the actual integration development and end-user experience.
To start, Paragon’s API documentation was extremely easy to follow and ensured a smooth implementation process. Being able to integrate Paragon into their product in just 2 hours was the first signal that the platform was designed thoughtfully for engineers to implement.
“Being able to integrate Paragon inside Harbour in two hours was a game changer for our engineering team. The SDK has everything we needed to get started.” - Caio
Every embedded iPaaS provides a visual workflow builder to implement the integration’s business logic. However Paragon has been far more opinionated in its design, making it easy for developers to build the integration features they need without any limitations.
“We even built our own file explorer so users can open Google Drive and navigate through nested folders and select or search for specific files. We were able to build this because Paragon provided the authentication and made the Google Drive API easily accessible.” - Caio
Surfacing the right end-user experience was critical for Harbour, and that’s where competitors like Tray.io Embedded fell short.
Caio and the team used Paragon’s headless implementation to provide a fully native authentication and configuration experience - they even dynamically populated their integration catalog with all of Paragon’s integrations as a way to gauge demand.
“This is really helpful for us because it helps influence our roadmap - we're using data to make decisions about what integrations to prioritize and what to ‘turn on’.” - Chris
It was also important to Caio that the right technical support was available - especially because any issues that arise could directly impact their users’ product experience.
“Usually in less than a day, I would have a response back from Paragon’s team explaining how certain things work. Even when we had some technical issues, the team quickly responded and even fixed issues for us.” - Caio
On the engineering side, Paragon has enabled Harbour to not only ship integrations significantly faster, but it also offloads all the maintenance work that is associated with these integrations.
“I can easily say that Paragon has saved us half a year of trying to build it ourselves and actually understanding every edge case or use case that, for example, Google Sheets will have.” - Caio
As for Harbour’s product and go-to-market teams, the streamlined experience these integrations enable has driven both a significant increase in product usage as well as expansion revenue from existing customers.
“Every time we demo it, customers are like ‘Oh, thank goodness. We're doing this manually with every contract right now…’ You see this sigh of relief from customers and prospects, so that's been magical.” - Chris
The Google Drive integration enables Harbour’s users to select any folder in their Google Drive account, and have contracts automatically uploaded to the destination once all signatures are collected.
The Google Sheets integration automatically creates a log of events that occur around the contract, so that users can see when a document was signed, and by whom. Harbour used Paragon’s headless implementation and created their own interface to enable users to select the Google Sheets destination, as well as the triggering event(s) that the user wants to have logged.
Harbour's integration journey is far from over - the team plans to integrate with dozens of other applications such as Airtable, Salesforce, and HubSpot.
And what’s shipped is not done, even their existing integrations are ever-evolving. Harbour plans to continue adding additional functionality onto the existing integrations, including enabling bi-directional syncs for all integrations..
“Currently, if something happens in Harbour, then we trigger the integration to sync it to Google Drive. There are a lot of opportunities that we haven't even touched yet such as bi-directional syncs, and having Paragon handle those webhooks listeners and two-way syncing will really help us build them out.”
We’re excited to see what they build next.