October 12, 2016
Have you ever experienced an integration scope that kept changing throughout the project implementation cycle or had project timelines that needed to be pushed back due to unconsidered use cases? These unfortunate incidents ultimately occur when integration requirement documents are poor and important business-use cases are missed.
As mentioned in our January blog, identifying integration requirements at the start of the project will avoid last minute changes, resulting in minimal impact to the overall project.
The process of gathering key integration requirements is crucial to ensuring your procurement implementation project runs smoothly and on time. The following components will help create a complete and concise document for integration requirements:
1. Identify all Stakeholders
Stakeholder identification is essential for effective project management. Typically, stakeholders within the procurement team own the project, in which they lead all meetings and identify the business requirement scope. Along with the procurement team, stakeholders within the IT team typically develop and maintain integration points and those within the accounting team will be responsible for all invoice-related questions. Based on the integration scope, stakeholders from other teams may also be involved, such as the finance team, legal team, operations team, etc. Of course, architects for all systems should be involved as well.
Identifying key stakeholders in both the business and technical teams and defining each role is crucial to determining mutual integration requirements.
2. Master Data Management and Object Dependencies
In an implementation project, it is typical that procurement systems are integrated across multiple systems, such as ERPs, and HR Systems. Although challenging, it is crucial that the integration design is applied toward business requirements and that multiple teams collaborate.
If an ERP system has challenges, such as poor master data management, recurring data cleanup costs can incur. Additionally, if your organization cannot provide consistent information, there could be legal and regulatory compliance implications. Your procurement system is often dependent upon master data and therefore the management of this will need to be incorporated into your key integration requirements.
3. Define the Integration Scope
The integration scope defines the integration points that should and should not be included by inputting information from the procurement system configuration and business cases. The full scope will need to be discussed and evaluated by each stakeholder.
4. Determine the Appropriate Integration Method
Once the integration scope is defined, the integration method needs to be determined. The most common integration methods are API and CSV flat files. In general, API allows real time integration, but may be limited in the amount of data it loads, whereas flat file integration allows bulk data to load, but cannot provide real time integration. To determine which is the best way to integrate your data between a procurement system and other integrations, is to look at the object volume, object dependencies, integration frequency, timing requirements, and developer and infrastructure resources.
5. Integration Object Mapping
At this stage, you will need to look through every single field on each object within the system to determine which should be transferred from one to another and in which format. Capturing integration logic in full detail will give the integration team something to respond to. This step requires stakeholders from both functional and technical teams to be involved. This phase can be quite lengthy, as it is where most business cases are reviewed and reevaluated.
6. Prioritize Requirements and Eliminate the Unnecessary
It is especially important for integration points to be completed on time when project timelines are short and budget and resources are limited. Once invoices are received from suppliers and are approved in the procurement system, it is critical to have automatic invoice integrations populated into the payment system. The AP team should avoid manually keying in “Okay-to-Pay” on invoices at all costs. Utilizing your resources on low priority objects is unnecessary if your budget is low and you are limited on time.
7. Plans for Handling Errors and Ongoing Maintenance
Gathering integration requirements is not only a necessity for a complete integration build, it is essential for performing ongoing maintenance once the procurement implementation project is complete. An agreement must be made as to who the responsible party will be to detect integration errors and keep up with ongoing maintenance, such as system upgrades. Each integration point at this time should be tested prior to updating.
8. Document Integration Requirement Details and Stakeholder Sign-off
Every detail should be captured during the requirement gathering process; it not only helps the developer to build the integration, but also assists with ongoing maintenance. Once the Integration requirement document is finalized, it should be thoroughly evaluated and signed off by stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page. This will reduce the risk of scope change and project timeline shift.
9. Track Changes
Always keep in mind that if any requirement is changed within the project scope, its history should be tracked and agreements should be made by the stakeholders.
Incorporating the above integration requirements for your procurement implementation project will help create a clear, concise, and complete reference guide. For assistance with your next project, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Shelby Group