Tag Archives: Change Management

Managing Compliance Risks in B2B Integration Through Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Part 4

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.Managing Provisioning and Change Control Risks

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.

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The Importance of Risk and Change Management Policies

As organizations continue to look for improved efficiencies and reductions in cost, significant emphasis is being placed on “Change Management” – particularly at a time when legacy applications are being replaced with newer, “leading edge”, technologies.  The ability for an organization to develop and execute critical risk and change management policies will often result in the success or failure of that organization.  Internal stress can be minimized if such policies are evaluated and put in place before (and utilized during) any implementation occurs.

Ask yourself the following two questions:

1.      How would our organization react if a critical business application or integration database became corrupted?

2.      What might happen if we implemented a change to a production data transformation process (e.g. APP/DB to XML) without first testing that change?

Risk management is forecasting and rating issues and formulating resolutions before a problem occurs.  This rating is a contrast of the likelihood of an issue to occur versus how significant the consequences are if the issue does occur.

Responding to the first question, if the database is unrecoverable then there are major consequences as all the objects within the application and database would need to be recreated.  Since this is a critical risk issue, proper backup and restoration procedures should be in place before the system is moved to a production state.

Responding to the second question, this relates to both change and risk management.   The possibility for failure is largely dependent on the severity of the change being made.  The consequences could include the transformation process failing completely, or the receiving entity rejecting all data.  If this represented high volume business transactions, reprocessing the erroneous data may impact system performance.  Depending on the time sensitivity of the data, the consequences can vary from minimal to severe.

Question:  How do we circumvent such a risk?

Answer:  Adopting a change management policy for updating production configurations.

By employing a fully-functional development system, changes to existing production configurations can be tested and then approved for production so the risk of a failure can be minimized or possibility eliminated.

The key to a successful implementation of a business integration application is to adopt strict risk and change management policies before moving into a production state.