Why Should You Have a Business Integration Strategy in Place
If you have already planned to integrate enterprise applications, you might want to begin with an integration strategy initially. Too many companies plunge into business integration without adequate planning and without considering all the variables. If one does not have a proper integration strategy, things can and do go wrong during implementation. Business Integration involves keeping abreast with APIs and other technical factors.
Companies often try to integrate everything at once, thinking that it will solve their problems once and for all, but this is not the best thing to do. Putting in place a proper Business Integration strategy that is unique to the needs of the organization is very important, and that’s exactly why one must spend more time on conceiving an integration strategy.
An application integration strategy lays down the framework for planning, implementing, and going live with business integration. With this strategy, there are many things that can go wrong.
Let us take a look at some of the situations that may arise if you do not have a well-planned Business Integration strategy in place:
Moving Data can be Chaotic and Tedious
Without a strategy in place, you may not be able to control your business data packed in silos. Your ERP and CRM data may get mismatched, and the APIs of each application may not correlate either leading to chaos, repetition of files, etc. This part of strategy-making involves understanding what kind of mobile policy will be put in place, how data will be moved across devices and in the cloud, what kind of APIs will be used, etc.
You will probably also do a SWOT analysis to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what threats you may expect during business integration. The idea is to ensure that data moves smoothly between applications being integrated and that chaos doesn’t ensue once application integration strategy is implemented. Check out these App Integration Trends of 2018!
Most importantly, you will need to collect data regarding integration itself and choose strategies based on your unique situation. So, it is not only about making sure that existing data moves smoothly, but also about collecting data related to the Business Integration process, so that everything goes smoothly. Without a data-related strategy in place, all you may find is chaos.
Choosing the Right Technology can be Confusing
Integration is a difficult decision to make, and even though there are plug and play apps available, it is easier said than done to start using them. Part of the problem is that we don’t understand how much to integrate, and how quickly to proceed with integration. Therefore, having an application integration strategy that lays down a framework regarding technology usage, integration platform, and integration architecture is very important.
This step ensures that you choose the right model for your unique situation. Some companies may choose an as-is-architecture, while others may choose an iPaaS model. This is the stage when you get to choose the right technology after consulting with specialists, understand which integration pattern to put in place, whether to choose between cloud or hybrid models, and what technological gaps you are going to fill with the implementation.
Integration platform as a service usually tends to be offered as one of the cloud integration services. Being an enterprise integration platform, integration platform as a service (iPaaS) is a great choice as an application integration platform. In fact, application integration best practices require you to use integration platform as a service for an error-free integration solution.
Choosing the right technology can be confusing and having a framework helps. Otherwise, without a strategy, you might end up choosing something that is of no help to you whatsoever. In the end, the integration process may just fail.
People Policy needs to be Evaluated
A lot of times, integration does not work because there isn’t a proper people’s policy in place. This includes step by step directives regarding how employees are going to be trained and transitioned to a post-integration scenario. Having a people’s policy in place helps you to choose the right tools such as public APIs, connect with the right consultants, and ensure that there is always post-implementation support.
Integration strategy involves having a plan in place for post-implementation hiccups, and that plan should always include teams from the vendor organization so that you have someone to fix your issues, if and when they arise. A lot of times, clients choose to ignore this aspect, and go ahead with integration without expecting difficult situations in the future.
Integrating applications is just one aspect of integration. Maintenance and support is a larger part, which many vendors do not offer, and many clients don’t bother to ask. It is important to lay this down in the strategy, before plunging in.
IT Governance and Policy-Making Issues can Crop up
Companies that do not have an integration strategy in place often decide to take the plunge entirely. However, this isn’t a very good decision as too many things will be at stake. It is important to adopt an agile integration model so that integration is implemented in incremental levels.
There is a tendency among companies to choose either between a complete cloud architecture or a hybrid architecture. An agile and incremental integration architecture is almost the best model for those looking at app integration solution. Integration strategy will also need to specify how data will be reused and what kind of security standards will be adopted.
There will also be regulatory policies to comply, and all these variables need to be documented and planned well in advance. IT governance is the single most important aspect of app integration, and without this being included in strategy, companies run the risk of going helter-skelter, without a plan in place. The result will again be chaos and unplanned consequences, many of which may not be pleasant.
Goals, Expectations, and Deliverables
Finally, any integration strategy needs to take the commercials into account. One needs to consider how much money needs to be invested and what is the business justification for integration. One must also list down all the risks that may be encountered and how they can be mitigated. Detailing the company’s structure, assigning roles for everyone involved, and drawing a roadmap for the entire Business Integration implementation is crucial to its success.
This is the time when you estimate outcomes, presuppose timelines and get hold of all the APIs and the integration platform you might need during integration. You will also need to list down all the deliverables that are expected at the end of integration implementation so that there is no room for confusion or chaos.
Without having this strategy in place, your integration may be in complete disarray and not serve the purpose it needs to serve. After all, integration is meant to make your business operations easier, not complicate it further. Make sure that you speak with your vendor before coming up with an integration plan of your own.
Focus on Integration Strategy before Integration
Too many companies make the mistake of not having an integration strategy in place. Before you set out to integrate your apps, make sure that you consult professionals and your vendor to formulate an integration policy. This will ensure that your data is managed properly, that the right technology and integration architecture are chosen, that a training policy is formulated, and that IT governance and deliverables are charted. Once a strategy is in place, you will be able to get moving and integrate applications using cloud integration services for business success.