12 Best Practices for Successful Enterprise Application Integration
With growing business complexity, enterprises today use a plethora of enterprise applications for performing crucial business functions. Each of these enterprise applications is purposely built to carry out a specific task or activity. However, when it comes to integrating these systems for ensuring long-term success, most enterprises fail. Knowing the enterprise application integration best practices is crucial for saving your valuable time, effort and resources needed for EAI integration.
As discussed, enterprise application integration is a challenging task. Nearly 70% of the EAI projects fail due to the lack of in-depth knowledge and poor management. It requires a significant amount of time, effort and domain knowledge.
Availing EAI services from an expert enterprise software development company is one way to exercise due diligence and solid project management while integrating applications with complex data models and structure.
Enterprise software solution expert can support you in crafting a solid enterprise application integration strategy that suits your business processes effectively:
This article will shed light on some of the best strategies that you can abide by for successful enterprise application integration. But, before moving ahead, let’s first discuss:
What is Enterprise Application Integration?
EAI refers to the process of uniting the workflows and databases of varied enterprise systems or applications to ensure interoperability b/w them. Different middleware frameworks, tools, and technologies are used for this purpose. The purpose of EAI is to ensure flow of consistent information across critical enterprise software applications, as well as, fulfill the scalability, stability and robustness needs in enterprise systems.
Some of the key benefits of EAI includes
- Real-time information access
- Streamlined processes
- Integrated Systems
- Easy Data Transfer
- Smooth Application Deployment & Maintenance
Now, let's discuss several best practices that you can apply for enterprise application integration:
Enterprise Application Integration Best Practices
Devise A Solid Integration Plan
First and foremost, you need to lay down a solid EAI strategy by teaming up with enterprise application integration services professionals. You should begin by asking crucial questions to yourself like:
- What is our intent behind the application integration?
- What kind of enterprise applications can we integrate?
- What are the integration methods and communication models we can apply?
- How will we handle the security and performance risks related to integration?
- How do we maintain enterprise-wide data security and quality during integration?
- How will we carry out the QA activities during and after the integration process?
After analyzing these crucial aspects of EAI, set-up the KPIs and goals you want to achieve in the end. Hence, by staying organized and having key deliverables in mind, you’ll be able to achieve what you exactly want with your integration project.
Harness the Power of Pre-built App Connectors
Application Programming Interface or APIs are generally preferred for enterprise application integration (EAI). An API is a set of rules or functions that allows two or more applications to interact with each other for sharing business-critical data. Web APIs are generally available over the internet with open access. These are made with XML or JSON and can be easily accessed by developers for making connectors for specific apps.
By using APIs, connectors for popular enterprise software like ERP, CRM, etc. can be built and deployed using plug & play models. It is a pretty handy and cost-saving option when compared to building in-house integration solutions which are generally costlier and time-consuming. Such connectors let you quickly deploy new enterprise apps and connect them with existing ones.
Adopt a Holistic View For Enterprise
Integration offers a comprehensive view of multiple business components - from sales, supply chain to customer support, and more. Hence, it’s vital to view your entire business as a whole while performing integration activities. The integration of data coming from multiple touchpoints (like CRMs, physical offices, social platforms, customer inquiry portals, etc.) is pretty useful for your employees to get a complete picture of customers’ interactions with your business.
With application integration, the need for manually logging into separate systems comes down significantly which saves the previous time of your workforce - which they utilize on other strategic tasks.
Create A Flexible IT Environment
Most organizations these days prefer cloud-based apps or systems as they offer advantages in terms of easy maintenance, scalability, security and licensed-based pricing. You can team with expert cloud computing consulting services companies to craft a tailor-made cloud solution for your business. This helps you realize your idea of building a flexible IT environment with a mix of cloud-native and on-premise applications. Hence, when choosing an application integration solution make sure it connects the enterprise apps in a hybrid way. In other ways, it should be able to bridge the gap b/w on-premise and cloud apps and bring the best of both worlds together.
Leverage Next-gen Technologies
Utilizing modern technologies like Artificial Intelligence Cloud Computing, etc. are crucial for ensuring the real-time flow of data b/w mission-critical business systems. It also ensures instant sharing and accessibility of data whenever needed. Enterprise application integration also deals with data proliferation, changing business requirements, and customer expectations. Hence, harnessing the power of next-gen technologies is crucial during integration to drive operational efficiency in business.
Maintain Data Quality
Apart from letting crucial enterprise apps or systems interact with each other, maintaining data consistency across all systems and keeping them up-to-date, all the time is important. Integration often leads to data quality and consistency issues. Chances of data loss, duplication, and wrong entry increases when moving siloed systems under one roof. Incompatible data structures in atomic systems also cause problems during integration.
To overcome these data quality issues, apply proper mechanisms for data transformation and validation. Design data structures in a way that is flexible and open for new table/field additions. Apply common data rules, such as the canonical data model (CDM) throughout the organization. Besides this, use specific application connectors during integration. This will help reduce the time spent on rewriting manual integration connectors.
Apply Robust Data Security Practices
When individual systems become part of one comprehensive platform, access to sensitive data also becomes easier. Any small technology security loophole during integration can lead to serious security issues like data breaches and more. Integration also implies the use of remote communication via the network, which leads to privacy risks. Hence, apply proper authentication and authorization protocols. Establish robust access control policies and apply advanced encryption mechanisms.
Perform Quality Assurance Activities
Chances of error or system failure increase during integration due to engagement with new systems. Testing an enterprise application integration solution means working with varied communication protocols, data structures, and languages. The presence of legacy applications also hikes complexity and invokes a shared test environment.
You should involve multiple stakeholders like business partners, packaged solution vendors, etc during the QA process. It’s always better to get a professional software testing services team on-board with good knowledge of EAI patterns, middleware, and architecture.
Keep EAI Documents Sorted, Ready
Once the application integration is done, you will find a lot of information or data that’s unimportant. Although this data can be pretty useful or crucial when your EAI system expands at a later stage. For instance, operational requirements might change when your business grows up to a certain stage. Hence, it's recommended you maintain all kinds of EAI records, such as records for data flows, data structures, interfaces, and more.
Create Investment Margin For Post-Project Changes
Changig business needs at different stages during the project is the biggest barrier for EAI. Because of the ever-increasing changes, the EAI implementation becomes very fluid. The system components requiring integration are often spread across different business verticals and even across value chains sometimes in firms with complex operating procedures.
This is because some business processes are transparent from start to end. To avoid that, you should allocate the required budget for post-project changes right at the start of the project, This should inculcate more than just maintenance.
Avoid Unnecessary Features Addition
Changing Deployment and maintenance are the most difficult parts when we talk about enterprise application integration. It requires significant efforts from the development and operations teams courtesy complex nature of enterprise systems. It is highly recommended for you to always vote for the addition of the most crucial features in your application during the initial release.
This helps your stay aligned with project timelines and make sure that the project is ready to go to production in the given time frame. What this ultimately does is guarantee a positive return on investment for you. So, don't root for unnecessary features in a critical enterprise system until it is absolutely necessary.
Team up with Application Integration Specialists
Most companies face an uphill task when integrating crucial enterprise systems or applications. The lack of prior experience, technology knowledge and in-house specialists leads to integration failure in most cases. Hence, to avoid that situation, you can work with application integration specialists like A3logics.
We, as a leading product engineering company, provide trusted and best-in-class EAI services to our clients across industries, from retail, manufacturing to healthcare and more. Our EAI experts provide custom enterprise application integration solutions that simplify your biggest integration challenges and reduce complexity greatly.
Drop us a line to know more about our enterprise application integration services and solutions.