The implementation of a project system integration can be a complex operation, requiring good planning and careful management to minimize impacts on company activities.
One of the aspects that could slow down the desire to implement a company integration project, in fact, is the risk of having to completely interrupt company activities during the implementation of the intervention.
No entrepreneur would like to be forced to stop producing. However, this is a false myth.
The implementation of an integrated system can be planned by following a few best practices who can avoid it.
In this article, therefore, we will explore some of the best practices that a good system integrator can apply to implement an integration project without disrupting business operations.
First of all, it is important to have one complete vision of the system integration project. This means understanding the project requirements, the features that will be integrated, the business processes involved, and the systems and applications that will be affected by the integration.
It is important to start with ain-depth analysis of all these elements and clearly define the objectives of the project. Only in this way can an ad hoc strategy for the implementation of the project be developed.
Once the requirements and objectives of the project have been defined, you can start planning its implementation.
At this point, one of the best practices to minimize impacts on company activities will be to divide the project into phases and define gods milestones precise for each of them. In this way, you will be able to constantly monitor the progress of the project and identify any problems before they become critical.
One of the most important phases in planning a system integration project is theimpact analysis.
In simple terms, this means evaluating the effects that the integration will have on existing business processes and the availability of systems and applications.
Impact analysis can also help identify critical processes and systems that must remain operational during the implementation of the business integration project. In this way, it is possible to develop an effective strategy to minimize impacts on activities.
Performing a good impact analysis involves some essential steps, the first of which is defining the project objectives and system requirements specifications. Only in this way will it be possible to identify the processes, systems and functions that will be affected by the system integration project.
The assessment of potential impacts will ultimately have to be conducted on each of the elements identified, including employees.
The essential result of a careful impact analysis is to have the means to identify the actions necessary to minimize the negative impacts and maximize the benefits of integration and, consequently, foresee the resources necessary to implement such actions.
The impact analysis, it should be underlined, is not only a preliminary operation but also and above all iterative, therefore to be carried out throughout the entire project life cycle, from planning to implementation.
The data migration node
For data migration refers to the process of transferring data from one system to another. This is an apparently simple procedure but which, in reality, hides the need for an often radical modification of the archiving system, as well as of the database or application used.
To carry out this operation it is possible to proceed in different ways, but of the two types of migration strategies most commonly used, only one avoids the interruption of activities.
One of the most used approaches, in fact, is that of the so-called "big bang" type migration.
In such a data migration, the entire transfer is completed in a limited time frame, but there is always the other side of the coin. Using this approach, active systems experience an interruption while the data undergoes ETL (Extract/Transform/Load) processing and transfers to the new database.
The advantage, obviously, is that its creation is concentrated in a single operation and requires little time to complete. The pressure, however, can be intense, as the business must continue with one of the resources offline. The other risk associated with this strategy, therefore, is the possibility that implementation may be compromised.
Since our objective is to show the best practices for the implementation of a company systems integration project that does not "pull the plug" on the activities, then, let's move directly to the second option.
Let's talk, therefore, about the so-called “dropper” migration.
Let's start by saying that the dropper migration approach requires the process to be carried out in several phases.
For avoid any interruption of activities, during the implementation phase of the migration the old system and the new one run in parallel. In this way, all those processes that run in real time can keep the data constantly migrating.
Compared to the “big bang” approach, these implementations can certainly be quite complex from a design perspective. However, it is a greater complexity of the procedure which, in its defense, reduces risks rather than increasing them, as often happens when one opts to use faster execution methodologies.
Other best practices
Another good practice, to implement a system integration project without interrupting company activities, is to test every phase of the project before it is released into production.
In fact, tests are essential to identify any problems and ensure that the system works correctly. It is important, therefore, to include unit tests, integration tests and system tests for each phase of the project.
Another aspect that should absolutely not be underestimated is theinteraction between elements.
During the implementation of the project, then, it will be important to maintain a open communication with company staff and the stakeholders involved. In this way, it will be possible to inform staff about the progress of the project and the potential impacts on company activities.
Maintaining open communication can also help identify any problems and remedy them before they become critical.
Finally, it is essential to develop a monitoring and maintenance plan for the system, ensuring that it is executed correctly.
This is equivalent to constantly monitoring the system after release into production. A practice that can allow you to promptly identify any problems and ensure that the system works correctly.