6 Ways to Recognize You’re Hitting the Easy Button

When you hit the integration easy button, you can cause as many problems as you solve.

Many organizations have sacrificed long-term, flexible, resilient solutions on the altar of implementation speed. For instance, you’re probably familiar with this scenario: The CFO has acquired a new planning and budgeting tool. It has the ability to integrate with multiple solutions across your ecosystem — both on-site applications and cloud-hosted ones. Of course, the quarterly board review is fast approaching, and the CFO wants his new systems up and running as soon as possible. 

You find yourself sacrificing long term agility and growth to meet the CFO’s need today. Instead of building a reusable API, or better yet, leveraging an existing one, to connect the new FP&A solution, you get the data files the finance team needs and dump them on a server. While the CFO may be happy today, he won’t be when the same fire drill is needed in another month or two.

You just pushed the Easy Button and added to your technical debt. These quick and easy solutions have a long life and high cost.  Avoiding this isn’t always more expensive or laborious; often some analysis and a plan is all that is needed.

6 Indicators Your Organization Has Integration Easy Button Syndrome

Just like personal debt, a company with a lot of technical debt needs to take a well-considered path to the future. The first step is recognizing you have a problem. 

1. Every new integration effort is custom. If every time your team looks to build a new connection or add a new system to the landscape, a custom integration is needed, you’re creating or paying interest on that technical debt. This is especially true if integrations must be built from source to target, every time.

2. No such thing as global updates. If you can’t make global enhancements requiring you to manually update each integration separately, someone hit the easy button. 

3. Logging is inconsistent. Integrations built without logging standards create confusion and slows down troubleshooting.

4. Your customers know something is broken before you do. Rapidly implemented integrations rarely take the time to include alerting — a problem exacerbated by inconsistent logging. 

5. You don’t know what’s in production. Are you 100% certain all of your production integrations are needed? Sources and targets change all of the time. Data feeds get abandoned. We’ve had customers with 40% of their data feeds sitting unused with no visibility into the problem.

6. Tribal knowledge. “Talk to Steve; he knows how that integration works.” Easy button solutions are usually the domain of a single developer — who may have built it in their development preference du jour. Enhancements and root cause analysis become difficult — or impossible if Steve has left the company.

Curing Easy Button Syndrome

Recognizing you have an integration disorder and vast technical debt problem is just the first step. The critical piece to curing the problem is investing in planning.

Investing, however, is a loaded word. When we hear that, we think of giving up to eventually, in the distant future, realize a win. 

That’s not the case with investing the time to plan your integrations.  Planning isn’t more expensive or time-consuming than the Easy Button method in the short term, and it’s a cost-effective and resource-saving strategy in the long-term.

It comes with the understanding that every enterprise has an integration pipeline. That awareness builds the foundation for rapidly executing integrations and increasing visibility while eliminating technical debt.

Investing in an hour of planning today can save you five hours of execution on your next integration. And the next, and the next. That single hour that plans out a reusable integration pays dividends far beyond the immediate implementation.

Looking back at our story of the CFO and his new planning application: Pressing the Easy Button means grabbing files, copying them to the right server, testing them, and importing them. This takes time.

For the enterprise that has committed to planning and reuse, the process becomes simple – choose an existing canonical. Leverage it based on established integration implementation standards.  You create no technical debt and the CFO has a more efficient and long-term solution with half the work and at twice the speed.

Integration planning and standards result in low-cost, fast, adaptable, future-proof solutions. That’s the real easy button.

Tim Merkel
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