Having contingency plans and redundancy in business is key to ensuring you have the inputs, production, and delivery mechanisms necessary to satify customer product or service demands. This holds true for businesses of all sizes and reach, local or global. The bigger the reach, or more complex the business, the more critical having these plans become.
This also holds true for the business, data, and EDI integration responsibilities we have to our organizations.
In 20 years of service to clients assisting with all things integration, we have participated with clients in developing carefully crafted contingency plans and built out redundancy in integration processes and infrastructure.
With differences in company size, reach, budget, trading partner SLAs, and industry based requirements, system related contingency and redundancy plans can have different components and vary from one organization to another.
Developing disaster recovery plans and systems is something most firms have done. Data archiving and retention processes are also necessary from a legal and compliance perspective. Mission critical systems are often architected in clustered configurations with failover support. EDI software and data integration systems have on error alert features to proactively notify integration professionals or line of business folks of errors or undesireable events. Similarly some integration tool sets offer extended visibility portals and reporting to accelerate problem identification and resolution.
In the above, technology and process are covered but what about the people part? In our experience, integration professionals are often the overlooked component of integration contingency and redundancy planning. Similar to the process and technology part above, how the people part of the equation is addressed depends on company size, reach, and budget.
Organizations with a single/fractional integration or EDI professional often have no one else trained in EDI coordination or EDI/ERP integration. This is also true of niche role players in larger organizations. This leaves companies in a pinch when an employee exits the organization, goes on vacation, is out due to health issues, and so on. There are a variety of ways an organization can address this in their world.
Every integration environment should have at least two individuals trained for every role, to what degree depends on your tolerance for risk. Supporting procedural documentation is also key when substantial time cannot be dedicated to comprehensive cross traning.
Integration groups with higher risk tolarance utilize an integration or EDI partner to help offset some of the internal EDI specialist risk. Utilizing this approach is certainly a viable option and one used by many of our clients. But it is important to point out that there are unique business processes in each and every organization that unless documented, or communicated by an accessible employee, requires EDI services resources to "look under the hood" to become familiar with the uniqueness of each organization at the onset of service to the client.
If you do not have integration contingency plans and redundancy in your organization, this is certainly something we recommend. Many develop and manage their plan totally in-house, and for others REMEDI plays a particular role in the clients' plan. Areas where we serve our clients as part of their plan include...
- Consulting - staff supplimentation or project based to assist with untimely turnovers, vacations, or health matters
- Training - EDI product or integration tool based training to create talent reduncancy in your organization
- Managed Services - sourcing out all, or part, of the integration tasks within your organization thereby letting REMEDI and our resources address issues of training and resource risk
- Recruiting and Placement - recruiting for the contract to hire or full-time integration professionals you need for backfill and/or redundancy
For assistance in creating, updating, or playing a role in your integration contingency plan...