Scott Keske, Senior Technical Solution Architect at  Insite Software

The costs for flowing data through the pipe in integration are fairly predictable.  Hardware, software, a little administration from the IT group, and you’re done.  It just works right?  Well . . . not really.  The soft costs around the communications layer start leaking out when something goes bump in the night. The FTP goes down, a warning notice didn’t come through, the listener failed, and customer orders don’t flow into the system.

This raises a host of questions:  How long did this go unnoticed? How easy is it to access the original file to get all the information into the system? How long will it take to get back up and functional (not just operational)? On discovery a mad scramble certainly ensues to bring things back on line and get the business running again.

At this point, the IT staff kicks into high-gear (COST) and establishes data flow.  They monitor to normalize flow (COST), they monitor to watch ERP performance (COST), and then come the other COST questions, such as:

  • How was outgoing affected?  (Accounts Receivable impact)
  • How has ERP performance affected fulfillment?  (Systems/Operations cost)
  • What was the completeness of the order information in the system?
  • What errors need to be addressed?
  • Can I meet my commitments to customers?
  • What’s the relational impact if I can’t?
  • What risk does this create for my next order because of this problem?

In the end . . .

Underestimating the importance of the communications layer for an integration project can prove devastating to the business. When it’s working, nobody really notices and like your cell phone it just works. But when the comms layer goes down, like your cell phone, it’s a completely different story. Problems occur and the associated costs to the business often fly under the radar.

Ultimately, the communications layer is the entry to a much larger world, and the world behind that door is quite complex, perhaps the life-blood of the business.  So the next time someone suggests “saving” money by skimping a bit on the comms, hopefully something like “you get what you pay for” runs through your mind because it costs far more in the long-term than the little bit of savings seen upfront.

So what’s your experience?

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