4 Mistakes to Avoid When Integrating Systems into Your Tech Stack
December 18, 2020
By Brent Worley
If your organization is working with multiple tech platforms, integrating those systems will provide better insights into the full picture of how your business is performing. However, integrating systems often involves a project that can be lengthy and costly.
Here are a few areas where tech stack integration project mistakes happen, and how to prevent your team from exceeding timelines and budgets.
1. Poorly Defined Business Requirements
At the start of every project, a well-defined business objective is needed. From the objective, the requirements for the integration are defined. These requirements are often high level or vague, leaving too much interpretation to the technical teams executing the project. The end result is rework, missed deadlines, and extra cost added to the project.
To avoid this, make sure all business requirements are well defined and line up with the objective of the project. Avoid wording any requirements that leave room for interpretation. Instead, be clear and concise on all of the needs. Be sure to review the requirements with all project stakeholders before beginning any technical discussion.
Once requirements are defined, creating a traceability matrix can be helpful as well. This will align each requirement to the work being done. This also gives your quality assurance team a guide to defining test cases and success criteria.
Finally, make sure all stakeholders agree on the final requirements and scope. If needed, hold a formal requirements review and have a sign-off agreement between teams and stakeholders.
2. Shifting Priorities and Lost Focus
It is too easy to chase the latest and greatest idea that is brought up. It is also too easy to get sidetracked by fires that arise and the need to fix things quickly. When you get distracted by the day-to-day issues or long-term planning, your integration project that is in flight could find itself without the focus of team members. If you find yourself in this situation, you may try to push dates, borrow resources, or have the temptation to abandon the project altogether.
Rather than risking a project in flight, make sure the team is focused on the integration and only carve out time from needed resources if a non-project-related issue arises. Guard your project team, and shield them from too many outside distractions. If you are using team members who could be pulled into critical outside issues, set up the project plan and team member availability to allow time for meetings and work outside of the integration project.
Make a commitment to the project and the team. As other business needs arise, work with company leadership and stakeholders to prioritize new projects after you complete the integration work.
3. Scope Creep
Scope creep is anything that is added or changed in a project that causes the project to grow, or creep, beyond what was originally defined or the time originally allotted. Scope creep is often the result of project objectives not being fully thought out or business requirements that were missing and added later. Project stakeholders can also cause scope creep by trying to add in work not agreed to in the original project requirements.
Scope creep can be a budget drain, as well as hurt the project plan as a whole. There are ways to manage scope creep. First, make sure every requirement is well documented. For every requirement, verify that the design around each requirement addresses only the requirement.
Also, if new work is asked to be included in the project, incorporate it into a “Phase 2” project to be done after the original work is complete. This will put a time frame around the new work, without derailing the current project.
Finally, if scope creep becomes inevitable, be sure to communicate any new resource or time requirements to the project stakeholders. It is best to over-communicate dates and budget needs.
4. Quality Assurance Crunch
Quality assurance, or QA for short, is the last line of defense between an integration project succeeding or failing. Your QA plan should be able to catch any issues before implementing the integration.
However, if the right resources or time have not been given to QA, the integration could have errors, causing business objectives to not be met. If the testing plan has not been created, or if it does not line up with the requirements, then QA will not be able to verify whether everything has been completed. If the right amount of time is not given to executing the test plan, then errors could be missed.
To push your project over the finish line, dedicate the time for QA from the start of the project. Include a QA specialist early in the project work to ensure the testing plan verifies all business requirements are met. Give adequate time for the test plans to be executed, and allow any time for defects to be resolved.
Planning to connect your company’s technology platforms is a vital step to streamlining your business process and functions. Avoiding these common integration project mistakes can help your organization complete the project on time and on budget.
About the author
Brent Worley is the Senior Director of Technical Services at SmartBug. Having started his career in large data software engineering, Brent has spent 14 years of his career designing, developing, and supporting best of breed solutions for his clients. He has expertise in all things data and identity recognition solutions. He currently lives in Conway, Arkansas with his wife and three daughters. Read more articles by Brent Worley.