Understanding the terrain of integration
In order to navigate through an adventure, you have to have a map that directs you on how to get to the goal. In addition to directing you, this map also needs to help you understand the terrain that you will be confronted with in order to help you make decisions around addressing the obstacles you will encounter. A map like this will also help you find the route that most assures you're reaching your goal.
In integration projects, we must have similar maps that will outline the obstacles and best paths to take towards success. The key to any mapping effort is to have a clear idea of the goals that are to be achieved.
The framework that I created for An Integrated Business is a key component for the development of the map. Through the agile-based methodology that we’ve created, we have provided a clear understanding of what needs to be addressed for a successful journey.
Taking a top-down approach we identify the functional areas that require attention and navigation. These are the business functions that are critical to successfully and profitably manage the business. They represent the pillars of information and functionality that are required by the stakeholders involved in the operations of the business.
The functional areas and requirements are defined by the stakeholders within the company. These stakeholders, depending on the nature of the company, can and usually include both internal and external parties as well as the business and technology-focused teams. In order for any business to be able to work efficiently, all of the stakeholders have to be able to work in a coordinated manner.
In order for the stakeholders to be able to work together for the efficient operations of the business, the information/data they work from must be trustworthy. In other words, the stakeholders must have faith that the information they are provided is accurate. This information must exhibit several traits that assure that decisions can be made on this data. These traits are:
Non-Reputable - This trait requires that the validity of the data is unquestioned and the correct systems of records are used to deliver the data.
Reliable - This trait assures that you can depend on the integrity and availability of the data.
Consistent - Implementation of consistent data implies that regardless of the context of the system requesting the information, the same contents will always be delivered.
Timely - Timeliness of the data is a critical trait. In order for the stakeholders to be able to trust the decisions they are making they must have confidence that they have the most current information upon which to base that decision.
Easily Accessed - No matter how accurate and trustworthy the data and information is. It is absolutely worthless if access to that data is complicated or non-existent. Easy access through tooling and consumable components is an absolutely critical trait for useful systems and processes.
The traits required of the systems described above can only be delivered by a strategy that incorporates the cross-enterprise knowledge that will break the silos that normally occur in business’. The knowledge is guided by incorporating a strategy for integration of systems that leverages the:
Business Requirements / Rules - The business processes, rules, and knowledge that drive the operations of the business.
Technology Requirements - The knowledge of existing systems and technologies that contain the access to the information required.
Industry Best Practices - A thorough understanding of leveraging technology to meet economic, availability, and security requirements. And finding the best of breed tooling
Finally, the map of the terrain needs to assure that we understand that there are obstacles that sometimes can not be moved and need to be dealt with as part of the journey. Every business that has been in operation for any amount of time has made decisions to use technology that at the time represented the best or most economical choice at the time. Investments of time and money have been made in these systems. It is critical that a framework for transforming a business understand what these systems are, recognize that there is inherent value in these systems, and leverage them to exploit or maintain their capabilities until other/newer technologies replace them.
At An Integrated Business, our methodology incorporates all of the capabilities outlined in this paper in order to address the primary goal of any project, which is to deliver increased business value to our customers to help drive positive outcomes for their business.
I also would like to invite you to follow our video channel, including my recent video on our use case focused on improving sales rep forecast and productivity through integration.
Looking forward to collaborating with you
CTO - Trusted Advisor
An Integrated Business