While system integration need not be overly complex, there are several issues that make it challenging for most organizations. According to recent studies, up to 70% of all integration projects fail or do not achieve the desired outcome.
This result is typically more common with 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, almost every enterprise has a diverse set of applications and systems. Connecting those systems is critical for business success and is a challenge for the IT teams. This article focusses on some of the most common challenges in integrating IT systems.
Constant Changes of the Integration Landscape
The longer a project takes, the more significant this issue becomes. To manage this risk, time is of the essence, keeping the integration projects short improves the overall likelihood of success. Further, an agile approach 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 an integration project. A very effective way to tackle this issue is to use an external third-party provider that can bring the needed integration expertise 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 have responsibility for the entire system integration. Each has their own area of focus, and each works independently. So, when something goes wrong, the situation often becomes a finger pointing exercise with the parties blaming each other, 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, and there is no ambiguity over accountability.
Legacy System Integration
Most companies, especially those that have been around for a while, have some old, legacy IT systems in use and running on on-premise servers. These systems are likely to be critical to the business operations and are not easily replaced. Integration with legacy systems is often extremely complicated, particularly due to the lack of any ready-made interfacing capability.
Different Business Units See Data Differently
Use of existing enterprise data is critical to business success. Each business unit or department uses 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 effectively 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 across the enterprise.
When IT needs to deliver a solution to a business unit, they are often constrained by time and cost. Projects may be managed by non-technical managers who are business-centric and lack understanding on the best practices and architectural principles. Proper architectural planning, needed to ensure quality, often becomes difficult for IT because of these constraints. A system integrator must find a balance and ensure that the proposed solution addresses the functional requirements of today as well as future needs 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.
The Litcom Approach
Litcom’s systems integration specialists help clients drive business and technical results from their IT stacks. We start by aligning with clients on their desired business outcomes and KPIs, establishing an agreed upon reference architecture and roadmap for implementation. Then 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 at email@example.com .