Showing posts with label Digital Transformation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Digital Transformation. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Integrating systems today is both easier and more complex than ever

Integrating IT systems used to require a LOT of sweat and tears just to get the plumbing configured (think of updating a SharePoint site when a new z/OS dataset is created). Today, thankfully, all of the plumbing is available and there are tons of different options for integrations. So the problem now is surveying your specific environment to identify all of the tools that people use and then architecting and implementing a solution that works well for everyone.

As an example, you may use SalesForce for CRM, ServiceNow for service desk, Maximo for asset management, Oracle Cloud for financials, AWS for some applications, Grafana for operations dashboards and Sharepoint for internal web sites (just to name a few). All of these solutions have workflow engines and connectors that can allow you to integrate them all together. But you first need to answer a couple of questions that are similar to those associated with custom application development:

Who are the people and personas that we're trying to help?

This is the most important question because the personas you identify will directly shape the solution you're implementing. And answering this question with specific personas, like "Nancy the regional sales manager" will allow you to refine additional data down the road.

What data am I interested in and which systems are the golden sources of record for that data?

We spend quite a bit of time with customers simply finding all of the systems that are being used. Normally we start small, maybe with a single department, and then we work on getting a larger and larger picture. All of our clients use numerous systems that usually have some number of overlapping functions. We try to find everything in use so we can intelligently identify the ones that may be best suited to different tasks, also taking into account the number of users who have familiarity with the different applications.

Now that you've got some questions answered, what are the options available?

This is where things get messy in a hurry, and why you want to enlist the help of an experienced enterprise architect. It used to be that you could only get a workflow engine from an expensive enterprise application. Now, most companies are already paying for multiple workflow engines and they aren't using them. For example, Microsoft offers several: Flow, Business Process Flows (in Dynamics365), and Azure Logic Apps. Those are all separate (though very similar and intertwined) workflow engines just from Microsoft. AWS has Simple Workflow Service and Step Functions. And IBM has Business Process Automation or the workflow engine in Maximo. ServiceNow has a workflow component. (As of this writing, Google Cloud doesn't offer a generic workflow engine; they have Cloud Composer, but that's a completely different animal.) And each of those has a large set of connectors, triggers and actions that allow you to automate anything you need.

So which components do you use?

This is where knowledge, experience and collaboration come together. There is no one answer that generically fits the requirements for all customers. The answer has to be developed and refined based on the needs of the customer and the project. We use an iterative approach to our implementations, where we develop/customize a little at a time, while gathering feedback from stakeholders. This is commonly referred to as the Agile Methodology, and we've found that it works very well, especially for complex integrations.

The eventual solution depends on a large set of factors, and the solution is often complex. That's why we always document our solutions in a format that's easily consumed. Sometimes that means it's a Word document with Visio diagrams, and other times it's a full Sharepoint site with attached documents - it really depends on the client.

What's the point of this post?

While it's easier than ever to connect systems together, there's still a lot of hard work that has to go into implementing solutions. And this is exactly what we at Gulfsoft Consulting do: we help customers solve complex business problems by leveraging the appropriate knowledge, processes, people and tools. No matter what software you're working with, if you need help solving a complex problem, contact us. We've got decades of experience and we keep up to date on the latest technologies, patterns and strategies.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

JIRA can easily be used incorrectly

This is a great article about how JIRA can easily be weaponized for all the wrong purposes:

TechCrunch: JIRA is an antipattern.

Like all things related to Agile, it needs to be used at the appropriate stage(s), otherwise it is just wrong.

Someone needs to have a view of the overarching goal, and that's where we fit in. Gulfsoft Consulting is a group of people who have decades of experience dealing wit it all of the details of data centers and application development, and we can help you make the right decisions. Contact us to start the conversation about your digital transformation.