Let’s face it – integration can be a boring topic. We live and breathe it day in, day out and even our eyes sometimes gloss over. So how did we come to be inspired by delivering integrations at all?
Both of our founders have a background in delivering IT enabled business change. Over 15 years of projects involving new systems, new processes, new ways of working. Pretty much every single one of those projects had two things in common: (1) the new system needed data on day 1 to make it tangible for users to work with and (2) the new system didn’t exist in isolation of other systems.
Putting our finger on the problem
Across the breadth of those projects, the integration problem was tackled in different ways. Sometimes person-power was thrown at it. Sometimes new “point-to-point” integrations were built. Sometimes existing integration tools were used. Over the years we saw a few great approaches at solving the integration challenge, and many many more bad ones. When a project uses a poor option to address integration, there is always a knock-on effect which snowballs into life…
- Users struggle to get to grips with the new system because they don’t see their work, expressed as data they recognise, within the system.
- There becomes a growing gulf of information accuracy within the organisation, an ever growing problem.
- There is an increased cost, often ongoing, in wasted time and energy, to keep different systems in sync.
These problems fester inside organisations. Most operational staff will be focused on their day-to-day responsibilities and will quickly find a way to workaround the problem and get their own jobs done as best as possible. That is, after all, what they’re being measured on. No-one takes a step back and looks at the organisation as an entire system and considers the cost of the problem.
We reflected on our observations across many clients, many projects and many years and identified some common symptoms.
- Information islands where different teams are using different records for the same information, e.g. different customer lists on different systems.
- Time consuming cycles of review and correction inside business processes, often cross-functional processes, where the wrong information is being used.
- People who have a full-time job cutting-and-pasting records between different systems.
Working on better solutions
As people who are inspired by the potential to use technology to make life better, this is frustrating. Really frustrating. As IT practitioners, we can and should do better. When beginning to work on the software that became Seamless, we grew inspired by this idea that we can help people make the most of the software they have. Sometimes in the context of rolling out new applications, sometimes clearing up blockers that already exist within organisations.
So why do we spend all our energy solving a boring problem? Because by getting the right data to the right people when and where they need it, we’re really enabling people do their own work better.
Clearing blockers and helping people make the most of their time and skills is an inspirational thing to do.
And that’s why we integrate.