People, Process & Politics: Business & Integration

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People, Process & Politics: Business & Integration

People_process_politics In our previous post People, Process & Politics: Stop the (Integration) Madness we discussed how we have promoted integration silos by  fragmenting those efforts across organizations, applications and projects.

Ending the integration silo cycle requires a fundamental change – viewing data integration holistically. From an architecture level, we need to view all the pieces: information, data, technology and product. More importantly, we need to view data integration from political and organizational perspectives. Most IT projects fail due to people problems, not because of technology.

To establish data integration as a business asset, you need to create the following:

  • Business and IT case for viewing data integration as a fundamental business problem that needs to be addressed
  • Integration investment portfolio with data integration as an infrastructure project across all business and IT groups
  • Integration Competency Center (ICC)

Creating the Business and IT Case for Data Integration

The business is investing in projects and applications that require data integration, but historically these are disjointed projects that have created data silos scattered across the enterprise. Someone needs to recognize that this is a systemic problem that needs to be addressed in order to better use IT investments and, more importantly, get the information needed by the business to manage the enterprise. The data integration problem needs an out-of-the-box approach that looks at the problem in a holistic manner.

There are two key justifications for taking a new approach towards integration:

  • From a cost perspective, disjointed efforts will be more expensive and time consuming than a coordinated enterprise integration strategy
  • From a benefit perspective, disjointed efforts are not likely to deliver the information an enterprise needs (the proof is in the current data silos scattered in an enterprise)

There are three steps to enlisting the business support to move forward.

1. Get an evangelist to see the big picture – The first step in this journey is getting help from someone who sees the forest, not just the trees – someone who recognizes the need for change. This is usually an IT person involved in existing data integration efforts who sees the redundancy in data integration projects and understands the business benefit of eliminating it. This person becomes the data integration evangelist who preaches that there is a problem and that something must be done about it. Not having significant budgetary authority and being located deep in the IT organization means that the evangelist generally cannot single-handedly change the momentum of the company.

2. Get a champion to move it up the chain – The next person in the chain to keep the fire going is a champion – someone higher in the organization visible to and respected by either the CIO or CFO. The evangelist enlists the champion to continue selling the vision further up the organizational hierarchy. The champion also may lack significant budgetary authority, but is often the person who creates the business and IT case for budget submissions to the CIO or CFO. The champion needs to justify the solid business case of establishing data integration as an infrastructure program, just as e-mail and networks are treated in most enterprises today.

3. Get sponsors involved – Finally, the crucial link to success is getting the sponsors, with both the CIO and CFO signed on, to treat data integration as an investment portfolio. There is a wide range of organizational approaches to this – from actually having a single data integration budget to a more realistic approach of budgetary reviews of all projects with data integration components. The budgetary reviews would eliminate redundant or conflicting efforts and, possibly, combine the data integration of multiple projects to enable more expansive and complete coverage.

Next Steps

Armed with the business case, sponsorship and funding you now need to organize your enterprise integration efforts. In our next People, Process & Politics post we will discuss organizational best practices.

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