With integration comes power. But first, how do you get to the ‘on’ switch?
We get it.
You understand and are enthused by the potential of integration to enable you to seamlessly access and utilise real-time data, and automate processes between disparate, bespoke or customised legacy solutions. You’re excited by the potential to gain a significant competitive edge and extend the lifetime value of your applications.
And what business wouldn’t be?
But where do you start? How do you make sure that your investment in time and money deliver a successful project? And what’s in the way of making your project a powerhouse for the business?
The four roadblocks to integration project success
- Lack of technical expertise, capability and capacity. Let’s face it; few organisations have the requisite internal resources with the up-to-date technical knowledge, capabilities and capacity to deliver a comprehensive and challenging integration project. You’re unlikely to have the people you need just ‘kicking around’ in case you one day need them. So challenge number one is to find a partner you can trust, who has what you need, on tap.
- The challenges of getting up to speed with technology. Good on you. You’ve made the strategic decision to move ahead with an integration project, and you’re ready and willing to reap significant value from your disparate but critically important applications. But the big question is: ‘What technologies and approach are best suited for your needs?’. You’ve probably invested time and effort researching and even shortlisting viable technology platforms. You’ve started to discuss API management and had some interesting internal debates on how to enforce consistency and security for your line-of-business, mobile and legacy applications, website and new systems. You’ve downloaded whitepapers and watched the videos. But where to from here? How do you work through the vast amount of information you and other stakeholders have gathered to make the right decision for the business? And where do you get expert advice from to ensure you don’t make a potentially expensive mistake?
- Not coming to terms with a. where you are now, and b. where you want to be. You can’t start anything new and expect it to work without understanding where you are starting from. It’s time for some soul searching by asking (more) big questions like: ‘Are we ready for an integration platform refresh? How mature are our current approaches? And how can we move forward? Who will be responsible for what? Are our people ready?’. While it may by this stage be tempting to offer the number 42 as the answer to everything, working through these questions, and coming up with sensible, in-depth and documented answers and processes, is critical to project success.
- Deciding when to ‘green light’ the project. You've done the research, validated your choice of technologies, and understand the where-to-from here process to realise a successful implementation. But before you press ‘go’ you need evidence that the project vision will meet your business needs. In other words, will this integration do what you want it to do, and what's going to be involved? The only way to make this decision is to set up the proof of value goals, scope, and inputs required to achieve them. And then build part of the integration to demonstrate that it’s going to work. Setting off on your integration journey without ‘proof’ is a high-risk strategy at the best of times.
So, how do you raze these roadblocks to the ground?
Good question! And I’m going to keep the answers short and sweet.
- Align yourself with a partner you trust. Someone who has the solutions, services, and proven capabilities to make your project a success. They should provide you with an overview of how the integration process will support your businesses strategy, and an understanding of the business benefits.
- Educate yourself. Ask your partner to equip you with the in-depth knowledge and understanding you need to make an informed and confident technology recommendation to the business decision-makers in readiness to proceed to a detailed assessment of your environment and objectives.
- Assess your status. Your partner should work with you to assess the maturity of capabilities and shortcomings of your current integrations. They need to roadmap your future plans and detail the steps to get there. And set cost and time expectations.
- Verify your concept. Build part of the project. And need we say test it thoroughly? Once you have the confidence that the integration project will not only work, but deliver the expected business value, you are ready to hit ‘go’.