The need for integrations is continually increasing when companies expand their system architecture and broaden business operations across borders to new territories. Today, every company is using a wide spread of different systems which serve the needs of various aspects of business operations. For this reason, the system map is never stagnant and new system solutions are implemented as they grow. In addition to this, companies operate as a part of a global network which includes suppliers, carriers, forwarders, etc. and these partners are located worldwide. There is more and more data available but at the same time the data is often siloed in one place or scattered all over, making exploiting the data very challenging.
It is therefore quite clear that integrations play an important role when businesses are looking to make use of all the data that is available for them. But how can you prepare yourself to actually excel in an integration project? Now this a much harder question. We wanted to write about this subject because we have all seen one too many bad examples and failed integrations projects in the past. Why? Naturally the reasons for failure are manyfold but the most common by far are the proceedings prior to the start of the project. One could imagine that start-up companies with no restrictions and openness like no other, or at the other end of the spectrum, Fortune 500 companies with their proven protocols and “unlimited” resources would be immune to failure. For whatever reason this is not true. The challenge seems to be universally overwhelming to everyone, regardless of the industry or size.
A key to a successful integration project relies on base work and the first taken steps. It is essential to point out that an integration project is not an IT project. Therefore, integration projects should not be treated as IT projects and most certainly they should not be implemented on the terms of the IT department. The control is with business operations and their needs and priorities should be the primary concern when the scoping phase begins. Business operations is the only department that understands the true character of the project, IT acts only as the enabler. In order to avoid the most common pitfalls in your next integration project and reach the desired outcome, we want to offer you five simple advices on how to excel in your next integration project.
- Clarify your use case
- Define the scope
- Perform extensive designing
- Commit all stakeholders
- Provide required support
Defining the use case is an easy starting point. The use case should be crystal clear from the very beginning so that the target remains in sight all the way until the end. The key question remains, what are you looking to achieve with the project and what is the desired end result? The objective can be clarified with the help of visual tool like this one.
Scoping should be handled with care and the extent of the project should be outlined before anything else. Recording all additional side projects and extra ideas are excellent procedures but should not be added to the core project at this point. This is imperative to completing any project within the scope, timetable and budget it was originally designed to. If it feels like defining the scope is difficult, a light mapping project can offer great insight and offer clarity to scoping. At Youredi we always recommend a procedure where a system architect alongside with a customer execute a systematic mapping project which will act as the base for the actual project.
Following the scoping it is logical to continue towards design. Performing extensive designing includes setting the technical and financial specifications for the project. The better the mapping and scoping phase is executed the easier it becomes to define the specifications, thus increasing the likelihood of a successful project. Designing is as important as defining and scoping and if you have done your due diligence this far, you should not start cutting corners here.
Resources and stakeholders are assigned based on the result of scoping. Again, it is imperative to get all stakeholders fully committed on working towards the commonly agreed objective. This is critical especially in integration projects because without exception these projects include multiple teams from different business organizations and various enterprises. This is why we cannot emphasize enough the importance of agreeing on proper methods and communication channels from the start.
Last but not least, is providing support. When you have first agreed on who does what and with what terms, it is important to make sure all relevant parties receive the support they need to perform. It all begins with management, so their input is a matter of the utmost importance. It is illogical to expect agreed objectives to be reached if there is no sufficient support. If you have reached this stage of the project with flying colors, then you should not fall into thinking that things will just miraculously get done.
Here is one alternative for project execution.
To summarize, while keeping an eye on your next integration project: Put your focus on the first phases of the project. Clarify the use case and do your due diligence with care so that everyone knows what the objective is. Define the scope, and do not try to do everything at once. Be precise with designing and preferably do a light mapping project. Get all involved stakeholders committed and to play by the same game book. Do not forget to dedicate time and resources. If you would like to know how integration professionals like us could make your next project a success. Challenge us and get in contact with our SALES TEAM!