Integration Competency Centers:  Organizing the Complexity and Chaos

Posted by Brad Loetz on Nov 24, 2015 12:11 PM

Often times when helping companies modernize their B2B integration, I get a glimpse of their old systems and gain insight as to why they felt the need to modernize. One of the most common reasons is to get all their integration software onto one comprehensive package. Generally, companies add additional software tools one by one as needs arise in their EDI department for requirements which older existing tools will not accommodate. In the instance of IT backlogs, Line of Business folks will procure integration solutions as a work-around to the capacity limitations of their IT department. Acquisitions frequently result in overlapping systems as well. Over time, more becomes less as complexity and inefficiency rise with each additional integration tool- a typical case of too many cooks.

Arrows.jpgTo address these types of problems in business today, some companies have developed their own competency centers specifically for or within certain departments. Along with those in IT, you will also find there are competency centers within departments such as accounting, finance, and human resources. These centers act as central sources of information for all members of the organization and can address a variety of issues faced by the constituents they serve. Competency centers accomplish missions that require specialization and collaboration among the many members of the center while keeping the organization focused with regard to the line of business departments.

When a company sees its integration systems become a hair ball and grows frustrated with complexity, it becomes time to take a step back and consider an integration competency center (ICC). An ICC is a competency center made specifically for data and system integration. The first step towards creating the ICC is evaluating your people, process, and technology and choosing a strategy that best fits your company. An ICC in one company may look very different from another, depending on their respective priorities and purposes. There are five models generally used to create ICCs, the best-practices model (most common), along with the standard, shared, central, and self-service. The various models are described in further detail in this article. Once the ICC has been put in place, an organized, efficient team is ready to help solve your company’s integration challenges.

With the implementation of the ICC comes a variety of benefits, starting with reduced complexity. When a company relies on a single source for their integration challenges, there are no task hand offs or communication breakdowns to cause problems. This reduced complexity helps with efficiency and productivity within the IT department and ultimately within the company. The talent and structure of the ICC also provide superior integration support for the organization to enhance the productivity of all departments requiring integration support. These benefits help prime the company for future growth, particularly with their trading partners by meeting requirements and enhancing relationships.

If you are frustrated with integration complexity, the tools you have to accomplish integration between your partners and systems, how your integrators are organized, or struggle with the capacity of your integrators…contact us to see how we can help.

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