7 Tips for Successful Governance of a System Integration Project

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Glenn Johnson is the U.S/ Senior Vice President at Magic Software Americas. He is the author of the blog “Integrate My JDE” on ittoolbox.com and contributor to the Business Week Guide to Multimedia Presentations. He has presented at Collaborate, Interop, COMMON, CIO Logistics Forum and dozens of other user groups and conferences.

Glenn_Johnson-tnGLENN JOHNSON
Magic Software Americas

Application portfolio managers and business analysts in an IT environment are being asked to redesign business processes based on the new capabilities enabled by mobile, social and cloud computing. Despite pressure from line-of-business managers for new strategies and approaches to traditional business issues, many IT departments resist change due to risk aversion, financial restraints and short-term thinking. In many cases they lack the agility within their IT infrastructure needed to update systems efficiently, manage data securely and integrate processes effectively across the enterprise.

System integration projects that leverage new social, mobile and cloud capabilities risk becoming overly complex, lengthy and expensive. By adopting a reasoned approach to IT governance of system integration projects, your chances for success will increase dramatically. Here are seven tips for successful governance of a systems integration project:

1. Recruit executive sponsors and keep them on board
Every project needs a champion – someone who will advocate for the project, understands its benefits and can corral cooperation from change-weary managers and employees. An executive sponsor brings the vision and energy necessary to effectively instill corporate change. Fortunately, the enthusiasm level for mobile, social and cloud computing strategies and tactics remains high and IT will often find a refreshing willingness of traditional line-of-business and C-level executives in sales, marketing, manufacturing, finance and operations that has not always been present in other past IT initiatives aimed at more mundane needs such as service-oriented architecture where the benefit relied on a technical viewpoint. Your executive sponsor or champion is your key partner in any systems integration project. Get their input from the outset and utilize their clout within the organization to get the cooperation you need.

2. Plan for incremental success
Regardless of whether you use agile or scrum project management methodologies, early and frequent successes are essential. Too many projects are cancelled midstream simply because their results are shrouded in mystery. You may want to have an initial proof-of-concept project that shows the viability of your underlying integration approach, so that you can keep the project moving forward to the final result without suffering waning enthusiasm. Plan for a series of small successes that put reasonable results in front of all interested parties to the project.

3. Never overlook security
While it will be tempting to strike quickly and beat the competition in delivering new customer experiences based on social, mobile and cloud computing, never put you or your customers’ data, privacy or security at risk. Never. There are several smart decisions you can take to improve your chances of secure system integration projects; keeping the integration server behind the firewall, encrypting all transport layers, and leveraging a strong mobile data management (MDM) platform are among some of the more obvious approaches. Follow the requirements of your security plan and adjust it as needed to anticipate new threats.

4. Approach integration systematically
Too many enterprises rely on manual programming to connect point-to-point integration of enterprise systems today. While this is manageable in the short-term with small numbers of systems involved, it becomes virtually impossible in the context of cloud, social and mobile integration. For one thing, the discrete nature of mobile business processes is leading to an explosion in the number of apps. This is compounded by an equivalent explosion in the number of APIs, all of which must be disambiguated through data transformation and messaging approaches. Choose an integration platform with a good balance of application adapters and technology adapters that can manage the communications needed between all of the APIs in your enterprise IT environment.

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