System Integration in Style – How to Do It?

As the world is getting more and more connected with business ecosystems that require to expand to partner networks, and the interdependencies are growing, the need and pressure for the quality – and style – in system integrations is growing. 

Program Manager Tuomas Kivisaari, Project Manager Tiina Kanerva from Sanoma Technology, and Development and Marketing Director Jussi Muurikainen from Flashnode joined Quality Intelligence Program Manager Marjo Sjöberg, Director Ulla Rantanen and Qentinel´s CEO Esko Hannula for Quality Intelligence Hub Lunch to identify key observations from system integration efforts.

“The biggest problem with system integrations is that the project seldom has an owner.”

The lunch party agreed on the following checklist of items you should keep in mind in your system integration project:

  • Decide who – one person – is responsible for the whole system integration project.
  • Be specific and clear in partner contracts about the ownership of the business data.
  • Make security audit before the launch of personalised services. And remember, perceived security is as important to customers as security in practice.
  • Observe the integration results internally to notice arising new business opportunities.

“The biggest problem with system integrations is that the project seldom has an owner. Yes, there are owners to partial projects and systems that are being integrated, but an owner to the whole integration effort too often does not exist”, claims Qentinel’s Esko Hannula.

“Another big challenge is to break the old ways of working and managing system integrations. We desire agile ways of working but are skeptical towards new ideas and are not willing to give up of the traditional ways of working. We should learn to welcome the new ways, and turn the focus on the benefits the system integration will bring”, says Tiina Kanerva of Sanoma. 

“This is particularly relevant at Sanoma, because we are a 125-year-old news company and have successfully combined the traditional print media with the news service tailored for the needs of the customers of the digital era”, adds Tuomas Kivisaari from Sanoma.

Be agile, test your hypotheses and measure customer experience. “If you have a good business hypothesis, don’t wait too long with it, but test it. If it doesn’t work out, accept and quit, and test another hypothesis. If you wait for the hypothesis to improve, you lose time. By testing you have nothing to lose”, says Kivisaari.

“In business – and in life in general – time is of the essence. A successful system integration frees valuable time for the core business when automation can replace manual work and routines”, comments Jussi Muurikainen of Flashnode.

“Moreover, the benefits can be added, for instance, by focusing on sharing real-time information as broadly in the organization as possible. For example, stock supplies, transactions and deliveries”, adds Mr. Muurikainen.

“We have customer interviews quarterly and we get invaluable information to our business development from them”

“Measuring the customer experience is important, so that you can change business direction early enough if the customers are not happy. And most importantly, by getting feedback from the customers, you know where to head”, comments Qentinel’s Marjo Sjöberg.

“We have customer interviews quarterly and we get invaluable information to our business development from them”, agrees Ms. Kanerva.

“While the external business ecosystem is important in system integrations, the internal one should not be forgotten. It’s positively business critical to evaluate the benefits of integrating two systems internally. We tend to focus on threats at the cost of not noticing the benefits the integration might bring”, concludes Ulla Rantanen of Qentinel.

In addition to the checklist, it’s also good to keep in mind scalability and to make sure the system can be expanded fast if the need arises. Remember also to focus on why you are making the system integration rather than what you are doing. And naturally, make sure to test and measure the customer experience regularly.

Finally, keep in mind your company’s vision. The path towards the mission of the company continues even if systems change.