There are usually a few applications within every company that are core to the business but maybe focused on a limited set of capabilities or tasks. When those applications were implemented they may have been the be all end all. But with the passage of time, new capabilities are needed so additional, complimentary applications are put into production. So now the direction is centered on integrating the applications or at the very least creating a dashboard on top of a data warehouse.
There are a number of ways to integrate third party applications including API’s, web services, scheduled data extraction to name a few. Likely one or two methods will provide the right mix of effectiveness and efficiency while preserving security.
There are one-way integration’s and two-way integration’s. One-way means data comes out of one application and into another and data in the latter is updated as necessary. In a two-way integration, data passes back and forth so each application can update the other. Two-way is more difficult but is generally more effective.
The desire to integrate is usually tied to a need for additional data in one of the applications for better decision making or the integration eliminates duplicate steps such as data entry. Either reason typically enjoys a strong return on investment.
There is one note of caution besides the technical aspects and that is, be mindful of what you will find when you pull back the covers. We have been involved in many integration’s of document management systems to line of business applications (documents plus data equals nirvana) and many times the core data is not optimal for integration. This can be the result of bad data, missing data or data anomalies at implementation. Data anomalies are related to non-standard business processes that had to be jerry rigged in the core application to get them to work. Therefore, that data doesn’t look like the other data and consequently is not easily integrated with other applications.
So why is this a blog post you ask? Because better decision making and the elimination of unnecessary work is worth some effort and Millennia Group is in the business of helping our clients do both. Of course, we are generally helping to integrate digital documents with line of business applications.