HUMAN FACTORS IN SYSTEM INTEGRATION PROJECTS AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEM
System integration is a critical process for organizations, and it typically requires the commitment of considerable financial and human resources and time. The process generally involves connecting different subsystems to enable them to function as one larger system. Sub-systems could include IT systems or software.
Notably, a system integration project can be incredibly complex, especially as several factors are closely tied to its success. In particular, human factors are a significant part of system integration and can constitute a challenge if not well managed.
Thus, in this article, we will discuss human-related barriers in system integration and how best to address them.
Human Barriers to System Integration: How to Deal with Them
As mentioned earlier, humans play a central role in any system integration project. As such, while paying attention to potential technical difficulties is undoubtedly prudent, it is also critical to identify issues that could arise from these human factors. Here are some human-related challenges with system integration and how they can be dealt with:
1. Inability to adapt
The inability to adapt is a critical problem with system integration projects as the integration landscape changes constantly. In essence, the project is likely to fail if the human resources required to implement the integration cannot keep up with these rapid changes. This is more of a problem when the system integration project takes longer. With more time, more changes would likely occur, which would test the adaptability of your team.
Mitigant: The likelihood of this problem occurring can be significantly reduced by ensuring the system integrations projects are kept short as much as possible. This way, there is less time for drastic changes that can pose a challenge. In addition, the team can adopt an agile approach to attain the flexibility to change requirements as necessary to implement the project.
2. Lack of skilled resources
Many organizations, when executing system integration projects, often make the mistake of placing too much focus on the technical areas at the expense of talent. Essentially, these organizations acquire excellent integration technology but lack the expertise to leverage such technology optimally. Needless to say, this situation makes it more likely for the system integration project to fail.
More challenging is the fact that the human expertise required for system integration is not readily available. Such talents are rare and in high demand. This means most companies would struggle to identify and retain such talents without considerable effort.
Mitigant: The issue of inadequate expertise is not a new one. An effective and trusted way of solving this problem is to look towards outsourcing. Companies can engage expert third-party IT providers, like YouDigital, with developers who have the appropriate expertise and skill sets to carry out system integration projects.
3. Lack of project ownership
System integration projects typically involve the collaboration of various stakeholders with different sets of responsibilities. This is more so the case when an enterprise integrates various sub-systems that serve many teams. Stakeholders in a system integration project generally include system owners, vendors, and many others. The problem, however, is that no single stakeholder is genuinely responsible for the entire project.
In essence, while the various stakeholders focus on separate areas of the project and execute autonomously, there is no single party that coordinates the project as a whole. This, of course, would result in a lack of accountability which may ultimately cause the system integration to fail.
Mitigant: The way to manage this problem is to ensure there is no ambiguity over project ownership. Specifically, the organization can appoint a project manager to be contractually responsible for the high-level direction and coordination of the system integration project. Such a party would be able to allocate responsibilities and determine timelines for other stakeholders. Understanding the importance of project ownership, YouDigital generally provides in-house project managers alongside their development teams.
4. Breakdown in Communication
Since several units and stakeholders are involved in system integration, proper communication is challenging. One particular area where communication is vital is in the interpretation of data. Since the operational demands and responsibilities of business units differ, it is understandable that they also view enterprise data differently. These business units use data differently for their respective systems and applications. While this is fine within each unit's context, it becomes a problem during system integration.
To integrate multiple systems, organizations must have a standardized model of data. This, however, cannot be made possible with seamless communication across various business units. This is to ensure that the integrated system and model of data cater adequately to the needs of the different units in the enterprise.
Mitigant: Communication channels must be established during a system integration project to ensure that the project manager and the various business units and stakeholders are able to communicate effectively and efficiently. This responsibility typically lies with the project manager as they have to identify all relevant stakeholders and ensure there are no communication bottlenecks. In addition, the project manager must maintain a balance between involving all necessary stakeholders and avoiding over-participation that might result in inefficiencies.
Undoubtedly, human factors are a critical part of system integration projects. To ensure the success of these projects, it is crucial to properly manage these factors and take appropriate steps to reduce related risks.