Rahul Nipunge, Senior Technical Consultant, North America, FINEOS
In this current era of software development, being able to integrate to other systems is a critical success factor to almost all projects. You typically cannot implement a project without any integrations or having a Service Oriented Architecture. While integrations often drive the success of a project from a functional perspective, the project’s integration approach is usually technology driven without considering the true business needs. If the true business need isn’t taken into consideration and analyzed, then the integrations are poised to become a leading contributor to the failure of the project implementation.
Here are a few things you can do to ensure your integrations are bringing true value to your business, and not an unwanted cost to the project.
Collaboration during Requirements:
During requirements gathering, both business and technical teams must be present in order to complete the entire analysis. Why is this important? Well, we need to ensure that everyone has clear answers on what is needed and why it is needed from a business perspective. If we don’t then we run the risk of mimicking existing systems. The business team are experts in their legacy systems and need to help the technical team truly understand what their end goals are. The majority of the time, the technical team leads the integration efforts, without truly understanding the entire business process behind the need of the integration.
Create an integration checklist by including integration options such as batch processing, REST web services or SOAP web services. Include existing framework options like synchronous and asynchronous calls, pay load requirements, time constraints, transaction management and performance constraints in your checklist. Complete your risk analysis and identify the best options during the analysis phase. For complex integrations develop prototypes or proof of concepts and verify against real time integration systems. Remember coupling multiple systems together is a challenging task and it creates a lot of dependency between systems. This means the down time of a single system can halt the entire business operation; as a result this also needs to be considered during the analysis phase.
Data Mapping of the Elements:
At the beginning of a data mapping exercise, start with a conceptual model and get an understanding of the high-level data entities. Continue to elaborate more on data elements during the logical modeling by maintaining a metadata list of all the integration data elements, while highlighting the unwanted and redundant data. The keyword here is efficiency.
Accomplishing successful integrations requires collaboration between the business and technical resources. Risk analysis needs to start right from the beginning of the project until delivery of the solution. Integrations often turn out to be the most critical part of a projects success, and with a sound approach integrations can make the biggest impact on a project.