Integration is More Than Just Connecting the Dots

PS Village – November 6, 2008

Are you considering connecting your systems to remove that double data entry overhead?  Where do you start?

The most logical starting place is what data does the receiving system need that the sending system can deliver.  Break down the low level details fields and perform a mapping exercise to determine what type of programming is required.  Other logic to consider is data totaling, field concatenation, field translation, and so forth.

Then there’s the discussion of real-time (or near real-time) vs. batch.  How time critical is the information?  What types of technology challenges do you have with the real-time vs. batch desire?

So let’s say you get beyond these technical discussions and have a good solid design in place.  At this point some teams would assume they are done and proceed with the implementation steps.

As they say in the infomercial ——- But Wait …. There’s More!

Too often I’ve seen companies ignore the human element of system integration.  When systems stand alone, users of those systems have the power to define their own system usage.  This means workarounds are in place, subjective definition of information entry, and overall influence on what is good data and what is data to be ignored.  What happens when you connect systems?  Those human factors begin to influence each other.  What is acceptable to one system is not acceptable to another.  What is easily ‘filtered’ in one system cannot be easily filtered in another and leads to misleading information.

A great example of this is connecting a Sales CRM with a PSA tool used to handle staffing needs.  Opportunity entry is subjective by nature and the enforcement of a sales methodology can go a long way to ensuring data accuracy.  Now say that system is connected to a PSA that inherits matured opportunities that require resource staffing decisions.  If a salesperson is overly optimistic, staffing and hiring needs could be misinterpreted by the business against opportunities that are not as mature as viewed by sales.

Integration analysis must go beyond the technical connect the dots.  The human factor must be considered including a change management approach to existing system usage and processes in place.  This will ensure a higher success rate of achieving the desired objective.

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