This blog post is the fourth in a series highlighting how to manage compliance risks for service level agreements for B2B integration.
How to Manage SLA Compliance when Facing Provisioning and Change
Like other topics discussed in this blog series on service level agreements (SLAs), we will look into another piece that should be considered for B2B integration: provisioning management and change control risks. Even once your business has implemented SLAs, check for updates and improvements to remain up-to-date.
As a condition for new business, trading partners frequently impose deadlines for delivering integration processes and changes. These provisioning activities include initial partner onboarding, new transaction enablement, and implementation of several ongoing changes. These include communications, data formats, validation rules and other integration details. Even when onboarding and maintenance agreements are verbal, missing deadlines can lead to partner dissatisfaction and sometimes lost business.
Overcome Provisioning Delays with Reuse
A reliance on low-level tools and skills will often result in provisioning delays. Programming and other forms of ground-up, manual specification are the least productive methods available for B2B onboarding and provisioning – and the most error-prone.
You can reduce delays by reusing and modifying previously created B2B processes, maps, interfaces and other deliverables. Even this kind of object-level reuse can be slow and prone to errors. Depending on the complexity of the B2B processes needed, dozens or hundreds of maps, business processes, adapters and other objects require skills that might not be available at reuse time.
The most effective remedy is to apply reuse at the project level, as depicted in the image above. Project-level reuse is superior to object-level reuse because it utilizes working projects that retain their original object connections. A design-time process that “understands” what must change manages the configuration process. By replacing manual configuration with automation, you reduce the opportunities for new errors that extend testing time.
As a result, project-level reuse lowers the risk of missing delivery deadlines. Not only can your organization deliver projects more quickly, projects will also be higher quality, because the bases for reuse are complete, tested integrations. Additionally, this increases trading partner satisfaction and produces benefits sooner.
Standardize your Change Process
With requirements governing trading partner communications, application interfacing, and other integration functions constantly evolving, you must be ready to introduce corresponding changes to your B2B integrations. However, making such changes with poor change control practices not only puts deadlines at risk, it may also jeopardize the continuity of B2B operations.
- Changing project objects without preserving versions of the originals makes it difficult to restore a system to a known working state when changes need to be reversed.
- Uncontrolled modification of the same objects by multiple users permits unintended change combinations that can produce unexpected side effects.
- Allowing unauthorized changes, either by unknown users or by known users without permission, invites unpredictable results, whether intentional or not.
- The inability to quickly undo changes that were made in error and restore working integrations makes the affected integrations unavailable to partners while changes are being reversed.
You can mitigate the risks above by implementing a few straight-forward and complementary measures. By using a repository with built-in version control, you can eliminate the risk of losing prior work when objects change. Combining version control with change synchronization services mitigates the risk of unmanaged multi-user updates. Unauthorized changes are eliminated through access controls that govern who may change and deploy integrations. Finally, un-deploy and redeploy functions mitigate the risk of long service outages for integrations found to contain errors.
The table above summarizes the main risks that apply to provisioning and change management. Partner agreements that govern service levels for these activities are frequently verbal and informal, but it is no less important to take steps to avoid or mitigate these risks. Doing so can improve on-time delivery, avoid lost work and service outages, and preserve future business processes.
While provisioning and change can serve as SLA compliance stumbling blocks, by reusing at the product level and standardizing your change control processes, you can mitigate risks and increase your chances of SLA conformity. In our next post, we’ll cover the final elements you should look for as you seek to maintain SLA compliance. If you’d prefer a comprehensive look at SLA compliance right now, click to download our “Service Level Agreements for B2B Integration: Managing Compliance Risks” whitepaper here.