System integration is not rocket science by any means, but there are several issues that make system integration challenging for most organizations. According to recent studies, up to 70% of all integration projects fail on some level.
This is probably more common for complex projects, but sometimes even relatively simple system integration projects can run into trouble. Most of the failures are not due to the chosen integration technology itself or technical difficulties with the systems in the scope, but due to project and change management issues. In today’s world, every enterprise has a diverse set of applications and systems. Connecting those systems is often a requirement for business needs and is a challenge for their IT. This article emphasizes some of the most common challenges in integrating IT systems.
Constant Changes of The Integration Landscape
The longer the project takes, the more significant this issue becomes. To manage this risk, time is of the essence, keeping the integration projects short improves the success rate of the project. Further, an agile working methodology that can cater to changing requirements along the way and after the project is essential for the success of the systems integration.
Lack of Skilled Resources
System integration requires expertise that is not easy to come by. Having excellent integration technology is not enough if the required expertise is not there. Most companies struggle to find and retain employees with the required skills set for system integration. The best way to tackle this issue is to use an external third-party provider that can bring the needed integration expertise to the table as required, in addition to providing the integration technology.
Lack of Accountability
When an organization is integrating many different sub-systems, the accountability for the success of the integration becomes blurred very easily. There are multiple stakeholders (e.g., vendors, system owners, etc.) in the equation, none of whom is responsible for the entire system integration. They handle their side of integration at best, but they will not venture outside their own territory. But integration always has more than one party. So, when something goes wrong, the situation turns very easily to finger pointing and blaming the other parties, instead of someone “owning” the integration. If a single party handles the system integration project, that party is also (often contractually) responsible for the success of such a system integration project, and there is no ambiguity over accountability.
Legacy System Integration
Most companies that have done business for decades have some old, legacy IT systems in use and running on their own on-premise servers. These systems may be essential to the core business of the organization and cannot be replaced easily with a more modern IT system. Integration with such legacy systems may be tricky as they may completely lack any ready-made interfacing capability. Most systems do, however, have the capability to read or write information into a file folder that can the accessed, e.g., through an FTP connection by another system, but sometimes the only way to integrate such sub-systems with other sub-systems is to read and/or write data directly in their database.
Different Business Units See Data Differently
Use of existing enterprise data is critical to business success. Each business unit or business domain sees data differently because their operational responsibilities are not the same and they may be using different systems or applications. This is fine from an individual unit’s point of view, but a standard data model is required within the enterprise in order to integrate these systems. A systems integrator not only needs to satisfy the requirements of a business but needs to think beyond these and design an integration which has a standardized view of data within the enterprise.
When IT needs to deliver something to their business, they are often constrained with time and cost. Projects are often managed by non-technical managers who are business-centric and lack understanding on the best practices and architectural principles. Proper architectural planning used to ensure quality often becomes difficult for IT due to these constraints. There are several tools available in the market that can speed up the project implementation and help achieve business requirements faster, but they often lack a good development pipeline and use of the best architectural principles. A system integrator must find a balance and ensure that the integration solution is not just about meeting the functional requirements of today, but also potential future and non-functional requirements such as performance, scalability, re-usability and maintenance.
Rapid advances in technology have emphasized the need to understand the complexities of the IT environment and ensure that the technology is in line with business objectives. Integrating multiple IT systems that cater to different functions, departments, and stages in product lifecycles have been a significant challenge facing organizations today on their path to growth.
Organizations are now looking at adopting technology-driven business models to derive a competitive advantage. The need to achieve operational excellence irrespective of the organization’s size while maximizing efficiency to enable technology-enabled business transformation is paramount to avoid confusion, inefficiency, and decreased productivity due to multiple IT systems.
Litcom’s systems integration experts help clients drive business and technical results from their IT stacks. We first start by aligning with clients on their desired business outcomes and KPIs, establishing an agreed upon reference architecture and roadmap for implementation. From there we work together to prioritize and execute integration projects, further building out to accommodate scaling needs for the enterprise. Contact us today for more information.