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Why Does Software Integration Fail? (& how to avoid it)

software integration

In most cases, software integration fails because of unclear project requirements, scope creep, employee resistance, frequent technology changes, or inability to handle big data in real-time. But there’s more.

Whether it’s an app, a website, or a SaaS, the consequences of a failed software integration project can be severe and costly. 

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Think of an eCommerce web store that isn’t linked to an ERP system in the same way that it should be.

Inaccurate information about product availability can lead to delivery delays, orders for things that are no longer in stock, and financial losses for firms.

Application integration platforms must keep pace with IT departments’ changing needs and expectations if system integrations are to be successful. 

Here is a breakdown of how system integration platforms can fall short.

1. The project did not involve every user

Unlike popular belief, software integration is not limited to the IT department. Since every member of the organization will be affected by the new changes, they should be involved from the start.

Else, the integration will not deliver the business value it was intended. Or worse, some employees may not be ready to accept the change.

Speaking of which, we have a guide that can help you increase technology acceptance in your organization.

The integration won’t be a successful project unless the end-users are involved in the planning and implementation stages. Your staff may quickly tell you what they need or want if you involve them throughout the project’s development.

A better way to approach software integration is to map out the project’s requirements with all the stakeholders in mind.

Instead of only focusing on the functional requirements, a successful integration focuses on the goal that all the stakeholders want to achieve.

Here are some helpful tips to make sure the project doesn’t fail

  • Know why you’re coding the system. If it’s a project of “just adding functionality,” you might need to rethink it or touch base with other stakeholders.
  • Be aware of the existing solutions and systems – and figure out which ones need changing. Instead of trying to create new products out of nothing, try to use the existing solutions and find ways to improve them.
  • Keep a watchful eye on the project. Is everyone on the same page? Are deadlines being met? Does every stakeholder understand exactly how the product should look like at the end of development? Can you easily see how the code works and what it looks like?
  • Consider and plan for what happens after implementation – What will change once the solution has been implemented? Are the users ready for these changes? How long will the changes last? Will the system evolve further over time or stay static? And how will these changes affect users?

2. Failure to understand all the project’s requirements

It should be self-evident that your integration project will have a specified objective and timeline. But if you miss or miscommunicate a step during the requirement gathering phase, it might be the basis of a software integration failure. 

If you don’t have a detailed plan or make assumptions, you encourage scope creep, one of the most common project killers.

Document all the project requirements

Software development begins with requirement gathering when both parties become concerned about the project’s viability. 

During this phase, ensure that your scope document and input documents cover everything the integration should achieve.

How will data move through the systems? What are the versions of the databases? What should trigger the integration? What about error logging? 

And how much returns on the investment should the business get?

Even though your integration platform vendor will do a complete analysis to address the organization’s requirements, it’s up to the project leader to clarify them.

So, have your requirements documentation upfront. And be transparent with all the stakeholders.

Don’t presume anything. 

Your project’s success isn’t determined by the number of features or the complexity of the design. It’s a matter of how much cost reduction will occur, improved data security, and error reduction within your company.

Inability to effectively characterize the circumstances in which your business finds itself will negatively affect its growth.

3. Rolling out too many changes too soon

Assuming everything goes as planned, your project may appear to be a great concept that you assume that everyone is as enthusiastic as you are.

But rolling out the software integration at once is not the best idea. 

Too many companies want to implement software as soon as they learn about the numerous advantages and cost savings possible. 

But they don’t anticipate the employee resistance that might come up as employees fear the unknown, losing their jobs, or are just unwilling to learn a new thing.

Roll out a software integration in batches

Effective change management is critical in this situation. 

Work your way outward from the IT department and roll out the changes in small batches. 

The tinier the changes, the simpler they seem.

But most importantly, the entire firm should have been involved in the project development. And everyone should know how to utilize the new systems.

Are you struggling with low workplace productivity? 

Check out these expert tips on improving employee performance.

4. Data obstacles

Moving data between two systems is one of the critical issues in software integration. Thus data challenges like the inability to mobilize data and support for real-time data contribute majorly to the integration failure. 

Use in-memory data grid architecture to handle big data

For an organization moving massive amounts of data, an in-memory data grid architecture will help reduce access latency as it pools resources from many computers to serve the data on request. 

Additionally, data grid management systems maintain tabs on how things are going when processing is distributed over multiple nodes. 

When using an in-memory data grid, the system shifts activities to another node if a node goes down, preventing data loss. 

The management system also automatically increases the number of nodes in the network when there’s an increase in traffic and processing requirements. Because of this, the network can expand in response to demand. 

Finally, recording, analyzing, and using business data in real-time has a lot of value. 

It improves response time to changes, leads to more informed decisions, and can help the business keep up with their customers’ changing needs.

Fortunately, the most effective tools for real-time data processing are application integration platforms that support In-Memory Data Grids. 

These platforms enable information to be processed faster than ever before, and several processes run simultaneously. 

As a result, an In-Memory Data Grid design may quickly obtain, process, and display real-time business data in an integrated process workflow.

5. Frequent technology changes

Following Moore’s observation that technology doubles every 2 years, applications constantly evolve to be better and faster. It’s the perfect scenario when dealing with standalone applications, but constant change becomes an ongoing issue when you merge two systems.  

That’s why it’s not a good idea to use a waterfall model to plan the integration. 

The early designs are quickly rendered obsolete due to the rapid rate of development. Yet moving back to improve a previous stage is problematic because each stage depends on the previous stage.

Because of this outdated project methodology, many IT integration projects have failed to keep up with new applications and their requirements. There’s just no room to revisit a development phase if one of the integrated systems change.

An agile methodology keeps up with technology changes

The success of the integration project depends on a very agile delivery strategy in these cases. 

When using the agile methodology, the team can change the system rapidly and dynamically at any point in the process. It also gives room for future improvements without affecting how the system works.

So, to keep up with the inevitable technology changes, the agile methodology is best suited for software integration projects.

6. Scope Creep

Changes to the project scope that are not tracked through change requests are known as scope creep. These alterations impact the project’s timetable, budget, costs, and resources. Because of this, they may make it more challenging to accomplish deadlines and goals. 

In most cases, scope creep is caused by clients or other stakeholders adding additional requirements to the project after it has already begun. 

These alterations are frequently made without a thorough examination. 

Since there are more things to accomplish, the project team must complete more tasks, deliverables, and milestones in the same amount of time and resources.

But you may be stuck with a never-ending to-do list because just when you think you’ve finished, an email arrives informing you of yet another requirement or new feature for the product.

And eventually, the project could get out of control and fail altogether.

Here are some tips to avoid scope creep

  • Avoid going beyond the mutually agreed scope of the integration to make the stakeholders happy.
  • Utilize a change control process that allows your team to adjust the budget, time, and resources if the project needs to expand.
  • When a change request is accepted, always update your project plan and share these updated plans with the stakeholders.

7. Oversimplifying the project

We tend to overestimate our talents when confronted with a task in which we lack the necessary expertise. That’s why simple projects have a far higher failure rate than complex ones.

As demonstrated by this fact, some firms purchase integration technologies and expect to use them “out of the box,” with little to no training. It’s an all-time underestimation.

These firms consider that if they don’t use the technology immediately, they’ll miss out on a lot of money. 

But when they jump on the new systems, the complexity unfolds itself, and eventually, the business might consider that life was better without the integration.

Similarly, oversimplifying a project may leave the IT team with an unrealistic deadline and unnecessary pressure.

Have a disaster management plan in place

In cases of oversimplifying a project, an organization will fall back to the disaster management plan

Which therefore necessitates having this plan in the first place.

All in all, if you notice that a project is going out of control, the best practice would be to stop the project, redefine your goals and rebuild the development plan.

8. Inferior cross-platform expertise

If you don’t have a person who understands both programming languages, implementing solutions may take longer than necessary.

But if you had two system experts who could work together, you could accomplish a lot more for your project. 

Outsource cross-platform experts

If you don’t have the right individual in your organization, you can hire someone else. 

You can’t protect your data if you don’t understand how your business works. The people in your team are a critical component of every project’s success. 

The best method to ensure that the event runs successfully is to ensure that the participants have the necessary abilities.

Or opt for cloud-based technologies

Cloud-based technologies are now widely used in most enterprises, and they are commonly purchased on short-term contracts and transferred between providers frequently. 

Moving between apps is risky, expensive, and time-consuming if you create your integration code. 

But organizations don’t have to rewrite their integration workflows or business logic when they transition to the cloud-based system with a cloud-based integration platform. 

A cloud-based integration platform decreases risks and increases the ability to respond quickly.

Technology and knowledge must be integrated across multiple platforms, as “integration” denotes building, testing, and implementing a solution and continuing support, difficulties, and possible future revisions. 

You can choose a software integration solution such as MuleSoft that you can utilize on various platforms, including those hosted in the cloud. 

Additionally, the tool must be user-friendly to multiple technical backgrounds.

So, work with the human resource department to provide enough training and support.

9. Lack of proper error handling processes

A fundamental part of any software integration is error handling. This is especially important when integrating with external services, as in most cases, there’s no direct way to know why something has failed or what exactly has happened.

Whenever an integration fails, we would be notified and given enough information to fix the problem ourselves in an ideal world. 

Unfortunately, this rarely happens, and we’re left floundering around trying to figure out what went wrong.

So set up a proper error-handling framework

Error handling needs to be a multi-layered process that cuts across all use cases to ensure that all errors are documented and resolved quickly.  

Documenting errors also provides data for solving future errors. 

And having a clear documented error-handling framework ensures that everyone knows what actions need to be taken for possible errors.

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