IT Systems Integration Consulting Project / Step-by-Step
If you’re reading this, you’re probably looking for information on how to improve your organization’s systems integration architecture. Perhaps you need to address declining system performance or get your IT department to respond more quickly to business needs. Whatever your challenges, before embarking on an IT systems integration project, it’s worth investigating what you really need and what solution will work best for you.
A systems integration consulting project can help you do this. So, the obvious question… what does such a project look like and why does it help you choose the right integration path?
When Should You Consider IT Systems Integration Consulting?
Customers come to us when they see a decline in the performance of IT systems and/or when the IT infrastructure is no longer able to keep up with business requirements. However, IT directors do not usually have the capacity to design or redesign an existing integration architecture on their own – but is not a complaint!
Building a team from scratch to carry out such an integration would usually be uneconomical. The natural next step is to find a partner to help implement the new integration solution. But before you do that, you need to take a step back and work out exactly what needs to be implemented.
What Is the Value of an IT Systems Integration Consulting Project?
An IT consulting project will show whether the customer’s problem can really be solved by improving the IT system architecture, or whether another solution is needed.
- Consulting with external experts can also help you find the best solution for your needs. Every organization has a different situation, IT systems and business objectives. There are also many integration solutions on the market, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. An analysis and system integration consulting project will help you to find the technology solution that is the most personalized and therefore the right one for your company.
- It also acts as a safeguard against making the wrong investment and/or project. Systems integration projects are a significant drain on a company’s budget, so it is natural to want to verify and confirm that the planned solution will actually prove beneficial.
- A systems integration consulting project will make the IT manager aware of the skills needed in the team to develop and maintain the implemented solution once launched.
- One of the outcomes of the project is the definition of a roadmap for implementing and transforming integration architecture in a way that does not disrupt the business and operational continuity of the organization.
- And finally, an IT consulting project can provide very powerful and practical knowledge for the development team, ensuring the final implementation can be realized faster.
So, let’s see what an IT consulting project in the field of information systems integration looks like in practice and what the results of such work are.
IT Systems Integration Consulting Project Step by Step
We often say that the selection of technology is the final step and the culmination of a process in which goals, business needs and the current situation in the company are determined. This is no different when implementing a new IT system architecture. Integration solutions vary from organization to organization, and as you’ll see, there are a number of factors to consider.
Step 1 / Study the existing situation
We encounter two main approaches in IT consulting projects. These stem from, among other things, differences in the level of digital maturity of the organization and the understanding of systems integration architecture among internal teams.
1. When You Know What Your Integration Problem Is
In this situation, you are aware of your needs and know which part of the IT systems architecture needs to be changed in order to achieve the intended business goals. In this situation, an external IT consultant analyses the part of the system chosen by the client.
2. When You Need to Map the Entire System Architecture.
Sometimes, you may need a more detailed mapping of the entire structure of the IT systems. In this case, after looking at the whole system, a section is selected for more detailed analysis.
What does such an analysis look like?
In each of the above cases, several questions should be asked:
- What systems are implemented within the area being analyzed?
- How is information transferred between the systems? For example, is file data imported or exported, does the system use PL/SQL or perhaps Rest API?
- Does the data transferred between systems need to be formatted?
- Finally, what is the real impact of the existing integration architecture on the business? Does the way in which the systems communicate with each other enable the business goals and expectations to be met? Perhaps this communication is cyclical, e.g. every few hours, and should be much more frequent, even ‘live’. Or perhaps changes and modifications in this area (e.g. adding a few extra fields in the product description as part of a PIM – e-commerce system integration) take too long and are unacceptable to the business?
Armed with this information, the process can move to the next step, which deals with advising on the selection of a potential integration solution.
Step 2 / Consulting & Advising on the IT System Integration
The data collected in step one forms the basis for a comprehensive document, which is a kind of personalized knowledge compendium for the organization. It is the basis for the company to make a decision on the choice of an integration solution… or an informed confirmation that the integration solution is fine, but that you should work on other areas, for example the implementation of a cloud solution.
Yes, the outcome of an IT consulting does not always lead to the need to change the existing systems integration architecture! At least… if your consultant is honest 😉
So, what can be included in a recommended solution document for IT systems integration?
- Business goals and objectives of the integration project.
- A description of the pre-implementation situation.
- A summary of the current state of the systems (AS IS) – a list of systems in the analyzed slice of the architecture and a determination of the integration capabilities of their individual components.
- Creation of a list of processes and the objects involved in them that are recommended for implementation as part of the integration solution.
- A concept for the new integration architecture with a description of good practices to follow.
- A list of functional and non-functional requirements for the target integration solution.
- A list of possible solutions to be used with their characteristics, a comparison and recommendation of the best solutions, and an estimated cost for maintaining the solution.
These are just some of the many items that should be included in such a document.
Step 3 / Optional PoC (Proof-of Concept).
In some cases, it may be necessary to test assumptions and possible solutions. This is often due to differences in communication styles and the type of data sent between systems. A PoC, or trial version of an integration solution, allows you to confirm that a solution is definitely implementable.
It’s also worth remembering that, if a PoC project is implemented with a positive result, it will not be thrown away. It will form the basis for the development of a given system integration functionality.
What Skills Should an IT Consultant Have?
You already know what a system integration consulting project looks like. But what should you look for in the partner you work with?
An expert’s best calling card is their documented track record and projects. So, ask your potential partner about previous projects and case studies – what customer challenges have they faced? How did they deal with surprises that arose during the work? How did the project progress? What were the results?
Check that a potential partner is not biased towards a single technology that they simply try to sell to everyone, regardless of whether it is right for the situation or not. When you’re making your decision, it’s important to understand the different options, their pros and cons, and their feasibility in your organization.
Regular Meetings and a Defined Project Framework
Make sure that your potential partner for an IT consulting project informs you about the estimated project duration, milestones, structure and working framework. Such a plan will make the work much easier and avoid unpleasant surprises.
Some Additional Tips Before You Start Integration Consulting Project
Before we close, we’d like to give you a few additional tips to help ensure your cooperation with your IT consultant goes well.
Remember that the role of an IT consultant is not to please you and tell you what you want to hear. Objective and honest advice is perhaps the greatest value of IT consulting projects, and this means hearing things that may make you uncomfortable.
Ultimately, you are paying an external expert to tell you honestly and openly how things are and how they should be.
Working on an IT system integration consulting project is really a team effort, so honesty is required on both sides. Open communication on a project will save you disappointment and delays later on. Trust and a sense of partnership are key in this type of project. If you don’t trust your partner from the start, the project may be in jeopardy.
It is good practice to appoint the right specialists to work with you, such as an integration architect or another person who deals with system integrations in the company. It is also a good idea to appoint a person who is responsible for the business side of the implementation – someone who has a good understanding of the organization. This will make it easier for the specialists to work together on a day-to-day basis.
Now You’re Ready to Embark on the IT Consulting Journey!
We hope this has helped you understand what an IT systems integration consulting project looks like. So, whenever you are preparing for a system architecture redesign and change, you will know the right questions to ask your partner and also how to prepare the company for an IT consulting project. At the end of the day, the support of someone who can objectively show you possible personalized solutions based on available data is the best way to understand what the company needs and how to achieve its business objectives.
Do you want to learn more about system integration consulting project? Let’s talk!