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Steps to integration

1. Identify the business requirements necessary to perform the integration. 80% of the work should be done here, i.e. not on the actual integration. Without solid business requirements, the integration effort is usually partially successful or not at all, otherwise it will never really achieve full end user buy in. This step is usually given the lowest priority and the groups tend to concentrate more on the actual integration technology, which is a mistake. Without defining business requirements, integration does not solve any problems.

2. The business requirements must be formulated not only by business and data analysts, but the actual business end users themselves, who will be ultimately the ones to certify if the integration solution actually works or not. This is an ideal time for all Technology R&D to begin.

3. Once the business requirements are completed, they must not be allowed to become moving targets. If the requirements are constantly changing, integration development should wait until the requirements are stable and not changing too much. At this time technical proof of concepts should be in development to prove the technology works. Technology R&D needs to be complete at this step.

4. Infrastructure needs to be in place for a development environment which includes development and test databases and servers.

5. At this time, technology is ready to proceed with the information gathered from the proof of concepts.

6. Testers get to evaluate the first revisions of the integration efforts and provide feedback to the developers and application architect.

7. End users get to evaluate the revisions of the integration after the testers and developers have substantially worked together to ensure that the integration works. End users have an opportunity to provide feedback to the testers and developers.

8. More testing is done. More user involvement is required.

9. Software monitoring is installed and configured to monitor not just the hardware infrastructure, but also the software and business transactions. The monitoring package will page infrastructure and application owners as needed.

10. Product is released to staging and subsequently to production.

Source: Addam Alderete, Managing Director, and Emilio Chemali, Director - IT Services, Complete Solutions, Houston, Texas