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I was chatting just the other day with a director of a major mobile software supplier to the social housing sector. We were talking about how integration, particularly where there are many partners to interconnect, can often be a projects' Achilles Heal.
If you are not careful, the experience with suppliers, integrating gear together can be like watching rutting venison, in an NT deer park. In the project I was chatting about, the go-live came in on time, well in budget and I came up broadly spelling of roses. There were rocks in the road from time to time, but I have to say we got four systems to talk to each other, without the 'gamey' smell.
Most failed projects I see, have fallen on their face because of poor or non-existent integration. No doubt about it, integration is always possible, but for several reasons, often never reaches its end-game. There are many reasons for that, probably half a dozen down to suppliers and 50% the clients fault.
Often users decide it's easier to 'live with' poor integration and convince themselves that re-keying data is a reasonable alternative. In the current social housing environment, poor integration, duplication, re-keying etc, is a luxury we cannot really tolerate.
So, in a new project, how do you crack decent integration?
Well, a few of my tips are as follows. specify the degree of integration right in the tender and have a lead supplier, where possible take responsibility for all integration. as early as possible, corral all suppliers together to gain buy-in for connecting this up and making it work. When problems appear, and they will, get all your suppliers in, have a lock-in.
Now this sounds a little draconian, but I promise you it works. Buy them their sandwiches, even (jam or custard) doughnuts, but keep them in the room until it's all sorted. Really sorted. Fail at this stage and you will pay something extra later.
So, how do you fix a failed integration project?
Having tackled several, as Tim Peak might say, "it's not rocket science dear". (I have got to say I did not intend to make that sound as camp as it reads). It's not as hard as it sometimes appears. First thing to do, get your suppliers all together in the same room. Agree what we are looking to achieve, price it up and issue some purchase orders. That's because if it's got to this point, we have to accept it going to cost something to fix it.
Now a number of people I have worked with have been concerned about this as they feel nervous about confronting suppliers. It's not a situation that worries me and often I have played cupid, to re-unite clients with their suppliers. Up to now I have a 100% success rate. Maybe this is because if we don't crack that integration, some of those could be ex-suppliers.
So, don't rut with your suppliers, get yourself out of your supplier rut!
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Related Post: Why do we ignore our #UKhousing workflow & tasking functionality then?
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The Ruts - In A Rut.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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