Tag Archives: integration

Gathering Requirements

Requirements Gathering for Integration Projects

Requirements Gathering is a complex process with the purpose of defining a list of capabilities that we expect to meet, once the project is completed.  Given that very “business-y” definition, let’s explore the process of Requirements Gathering and how it relates to Integration projects.  In this blog, I will start to address the approach I use to gather requirements and then we’ll apply that approach in subsequent blogs to use cases.

Simply creating a punch-list of features/capabilities/behaviors is not enough to fully define the requirements of an Integration project. Just meeting the defined expectations of A, B, C and so on requires a much deeper dive into what is truly going on, both within the organization and externally with other integration partners (customers, vendors and industry consortiums).

The Requirements Gathering process usually starts when a project is created.  In formal organizations, this initiates with the approval of a project charter, identifying a project Sponsor.  In smaller organizations, this can be either a tactical (reactive) or a strategic (forward-thinking) effort directed by a department head or line-of-business manager.  Once the project is initiated, the scope of the project is usually defined and documented. Continue reading

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Process Automation & Event Management

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

With companies of all sizes facing the “do more with less” imperative, it’s not surprising that process automation has become a common trend and technology solutions that manage events based on business rules are being given further consideration.

With an automation tool in place, transactions and processes can be event-driven, scheduled or triggered based on various business rules. This ability to seamlessly establish data and process synchronization rules using complex algorithms puts company success first by leaving far less up to chance with manual handling. By replacing manually initiated processes with software, companies can realize a reduction in errors, an enhanced work and process flow, lower expenses and improved efficiency.

What’s more, business rules trigger actions based on transaction receipt, non-receipt, generation or errors. Just make sure that your chosen solution provides the ability to design and configure automated procedures that generate and route events, actions, alerts or aborts based on errors or missed timelines. Continue reading

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Automated Object Generation

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

Companies spend a lot of time and effort on the design phase of a typical integration project. While using an object or model-driven approach – discussed earlier in this series – to set up transactions, processes and associated rules increases efficiency, automated object generation provides enhanced performance and reduces downstream workload.

Using a model-driven approach, companies can build objects with given rules and store them in the object library for re-use. However, with automated object generation, it’s possible to generate objects using metadata, sample data or other machine-readable data. For instance, you could generate an EDI trading partner profile based on ISA envelope information, or even generate a purchase order document definition by using an X12 850 file. In addition, objects can be generated using heuristically-driven algorithms.

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Integration Solution Must-Haves: Any-to-Any Integration

This blog post is part one of a series encompassing the top ten must-haves when selecting an integration solution.

For many organizations, integration capabilities have become mission-critical. They have also increased in complexity. It is now more difficult than ever for companies to produce the right data, in the proper format and at the right time when making key decisions. The result is data integrity and confidentiality risk. More importantly, you risk losing business, as external and internal consumers of data will quickly lose trust and walk away.

With the multitude of niche integration solutions now available, companies must navigate a complex and costly environment, often times incredibly difficult to manage. These point solutions bear inherent risks of inaccuracy and inconsistency, as each solution has in place different procedures and best practices.

With this in mind, organizations have begun consolidating their solutions to simplify their environment while addressing newer requirements. This has resulted in the adoption of singular, comprehensive solutions that can seamlessly perform any-to-any integration.

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The Dollar Value of Integration – Part 1: Time to Revenue

As you know, Time to Revenue is the period of time from the signing of a contract until the business arrangement starts to produce revenue.  Depending on the complexity of the contract, it could be days, weeks, months or longer.

When we talk about Integration between external suppliers and both our internal and external customers, months and quarters are simply too long.

Consider that your salesman just landed that new big account, but it requires electronic data exchange.  With a single integration platform handling all EDI transactions, your customer’s purchase orders will flow into your system in days.  What this means is that your company is producing revenue from the new customer in a matter of days.  Any CFO would be delighted with this news.

Now, let’s take this example a little further.  We are receiving POs just days after signing the contract, but we only recognize the value AFTER we can ship and invoice the customer.  Again, your integration platform comes to the rescue by creating data flows that identify when shipments and invoices are created in your back-end system and convert them into a format that the customer can already accept. 

In this example, we did not burden or disrupt the way your customer does business.  What really happened is that you just made it easier for companies to do more business with YOU.

If you can quickly onboard new customers, you not only recognize revenue, but your company will gain a reputation of being easy to do business with and you will help to build very strong customer loyalty.  It may even be the competitive advantage that allows you to become your customer’s Vendor of Choice.

Integration is a competitive advantage that positions your company to say “Yes” to your customers and partners.  When you can confidently say “Yes” to data integration requests, you are positioned to grow your revenue streams deeper and wider.

Watch the Integration Power$ Business 3-part mini-series at: www.extol.com/bethehero