Why Do Most Organisations Struggle to Resolve Their System Integration Problems?

If you are reading this article, we figure you've probably tried to get your businesses systems integrated with various struggles along the way. Digital transformation can be longwinded and complicated, without the right approach - but what IS the right approach, and where does systems integration fall into that?



We all know that the benefits of integrating our business systems are wide and far-reaching, including better communication channels, better customer experiences, improved data sharing and collection, functionality across multiple and varying disparate platforms that enables efficient and streamlined operational processes. But achieving these goals for organisations, can be an uphill battle - why?

Despite the well-documented benefits of system integration, many organisations struggle to resolve their integration challenges. In this article we take a look at core system integration challenges, what organisations should think about before, during, and after a project, and how to maximise the return on investment.

Even for organisations that know they need to take care of systems integration in order to digitally transform their business, and uncover a wealth of benefits in productivity, efficiency and cost-saving, it’s never as straightforward as just embarking on a project and hoping for the best. Systems integration projects will hit some bumpy points and it’s all about understanding what those challenges are so you can be prepared.

4 typical core system integration challenges

1. Complexity: Integrating various systems, each with its own unique functionality, data structures, and protocols, can be highly complex. In many cases, organisations lack the necessary expertise or resources to handle the intricate details of system integration.

2. Legacy systems: If, like many organisations, you still rely on outdated technology, it can get difficult to integrate with newer, more advanced systems. These legacy systems often require significant modifications or replacements, which can be costly and time-consuming.

3. Inadequate planning: System integration projects can fail due to a lack of proper planning and preparation. It’s really helpful to identify key objectives, assess existing resources, and develop a clear roadmap to achieve the goals required.

4. Lack of operational management capability: Due to the complex nature of systems integration solutions sometimes there is not enough support from the team implementing the project. Common ways that projects are mismanaged include going over budget (sometimes before implementation is even completed), plus, critical operational management components get missed off or are descoped. All of this, results in a lack of visibility into the integration platforms, which can have critical impact on the service provided to customer and possible financial loss. Understandably then, this creates trust concerns for senior IT management, as well the business.

So, with that in mind, how do you prepare your business for implementing systems integration projects, and ensure you minimise those bumps in the road?

4 key things to think about before the project start:

1. Define clear objectives: Establish the overall goals of the integration project, such as improved efficiency, cost savings, or enhanced customer service.

2. Identify stakeholders: Recognize all parties involved in the project, including end-users, IT staff, and business leaders, to ensure their needs and expectations are addressed.

3. Conduct a thorough assessment: Evaluate the current systems, technology, and infrastructure to identify gaps, limitations, and potential risks.

4. Understand operational requirements: Determine the necessary components for a successful integration, including proactive alerting and adequate dashboarding.

So, you’ve prepared your business and the project is underway, but you don’t want to let anything slide, so how can you stay on top of the systems integration implementation now it’s in full swing?  

Here are 4 things to consider during the project:

1. Data mappings: Mapping the data structures between systems is often a cause of variability in delivery. Having them agreed upfront ensures the designs are appropriate and the largest risk of change in an integration project is being managed.

2. Use data contracts: Often teams have pre-requisites to start delivering their work struggle to learn how to work in parallel. Data contracts are great artifact to enable teams to agree on a boundary at design enabling both teams to work in parallel.

3. Get platform engineering done early: When platform engineering builds their assets early in a project, they unblock the SDLC lifecycle by enabling the quick and reliable provisioning of dynamics whenever they are required.

4. Automate all integration tests: The benefit of almost all integration solutions is that they are often easier to automate testing on then solutions with graphical user interfaces. Increase test coverage, test speed per release and regression testing saving the organisation large amounts of time and money.

Hopefully, you’ve made it successfully to the finish line without too many challenges on your hands - but you want to ensure you get the most out of your investment. So what’s next?

4 ways to stay on top after the project ends:

1. Measure success: Evaluate the integration's impact on business performance, including efficiency, cost savings, and customer satisfaction.

2. Monitor operational dashboards and alerting: Continuously review system performance through dashboards and alerts to identify issues and optimise operations.

3. Fine-tune alerting: Adjust alert thresholds and parameters based on post-production release data to ensure optimal performance and minimise false alarms.

4. Continuous improvement: Identify areas for further optimisation and enhancement to ensure that the integrated system remains effective and aligned with business needs.

And of course, your business’ major consideration is dollar value.

How do you get the biggest bang for your buck?

In order to full maximise the return on your investment in systems integration and work out exactly how successful it was you can:

1.    Prioritise high impact initiatives: Target initiatives with the greatest potential to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and drive business growth.

2.    Leveraging Expertise: Engage experienced professionals with a proven track record in system integration to guide the project and ensure its success

3.    Emphasising Platform Engineering and Test Automation: Implement robust platform engineering and test automation practices to ensure repeatably reliable solutions when releasing changes frequently. These foundations can minimise errors and make the integration process more efficient and stable.

In conclusion, organisations must approach system integration projects with a clear strategy, a focus on collaboration, and an emphasis on leveraging the expertise of professionals in the field. By addressing operational requirements, emphasising platform engineering, and adopting test automation, businesses can overcome many of the challenges that often accompany system integration efforts and maximise their return on investment. Through continuous monitoring, fine-tuning of alerts, and ongoing improvements, organisations can achieve long-term success with their integrated systems.

If you would like more reading on how to overcome your systems integration challenges, you may also be interested in our blog on Systems Integration Specialists Versus an In-House Team. Or feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss your challenges with us.

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