Best Software Integration Practices in the Enterprise

Posted 24. February 2021. 6 min read.
#enterprise#software#API#integration

One of the best ways to improve business efficiency is by utilizing the best tools. Proper application integration can lower business costs and keep the business running smoothly.

Software integration is a critical part of your organization's enterprise infrastructure. Communication between different systems is becoming more complex, so having a good strategy helps a lot. The emergence of new software technologies across locations — i.e., cloud, managed, and on-premise centers — makes the process even more complicated.

Lack of an integration strategy can be detrimental to your business. According to research, 90% of businesses lack software integration strategies. This ends up affecting the ERP in general. But with the right integration practices, you will have a seamless end product.

Read on to understand the best software integration practices for your business!

Map Your Process Flows

Before beginning the actual integration, analyzing the entire ERP infrastructure is critical. This analysis provides an understanding of the impact the integration will have on your system. You need this to scrutinize how existing processes manage data.

It would be best if you mapped process flow, data flow, and connections. The process map shows the series of events that lead to the end result.

Process maps provide insights into the integration process. They enable teams to brainstorm ideas and process documentation. Also, they identify bottlenecks that could cause delays. Overall, mapping workflow speeds up the integration process.

Research Product APIs

In any software integration process, having top-of-the-range APIs is critical. For instance, if you want to integrate an off-the-shelf product, and the API doesn't exist, you may request it from the developer.

It's also essential to understand the API restrictions of the products involved. For example, restrictions such as licensing implication may hinder your application's capabilities. If you are using third-party APIs, it's crucial to consider the frequency of updates and their software effect.

Have a Balanced Team

Just like any other activity, it's critical to ensure you have the right people involved. You will need assistance on specific subject matter expertise. With a specialized team, it can be easier to navigate the challenges that come with software integration.

Your team should be flexible, and capable of managing multiple tasks at a time. Generally, teams that excel in software integration have both business and technical experience — a great background in software development and IT support.

Conduct Security Audit Throughout the Process

Security auditing should be a priority throughout the software development cycle. You do not want your data to get into the wrong hands. Security monitoring helps prevent data breaches that could reduce brand reputation.

Since REST relies upon standard HTTP, all requests should be made over HTTPS. Because of the stateless nature of REST, you should be keen when implementing the various tricks to improve security. Logging and time-stamping requests help a lot.

Automated checks can also help greatly. They eliminate human error and can detect breaches that human monitoring can't detect. When integrating software in your organization, always ensure you have a method of tracking all activities before they become real incidents.

Performance Tracking

Having data on how API integration works is critical. The API's performance directly impacts that of the application. Also, the end-user experience is based on the API. You need insights into each request, not just downtimes, and outages.

Ideally, the best performance tracker provides real-time metrics. These are the most critical metrics:

  • Response time
  • Latency
  • Failure rates
  • Status codes
  • Consumption
  • Availability

Success status codes are not enough. They may indicate that everything works well, while issues such as latency may reduce performance.

Remediate Problems

When relying on a third-party integration, plan what action to take in case an API fails. Even the most reliable APIs have problems. Having a remediation strategy can help you avoid these problems.

Some of the best ways to remediate integration problems include:

  • Tracking failures with integrated API monitoring tools
  • Avoiding failure cascade by implementing a circuit breaker
  • Handling errors and exceptions correctly
  • Retrying failed calls
  • Using cached data and fallback APIs to ensure all critical apps run as expected

Remediation is a way of handling problems as they occur. Even with real-time monitoring, you need a remediation strategy to deal with recurring problems.

API Monitoring

Coding the integration is just the beginning. After buildingthe API integration, the next step is monitoring. This helps to collect the data that supports the integration while keeping your team informed.

The IT operations and DevOps teams should conduct monitoring to determine service outages and any API changes.

Without adequate monitoring, you may encounter integration failures such as:

  • Inconsistent error codes
  • Slow response times
  • Lack of insightful data
  • Lack of tags on usage data

These failures can affect an application significantly. They leave end users and customers frustrated.

Some Challenges of Software Integration Building API COEs

While APIs, commonly known as REST APIs, are a great method of integrating systems, there are challenges and pitfalls to building out an API COE. Let's take a look at some of the most common challenges.

Setting Up

Setting up a COE requires not only forethought but a big-picture mindset. It's critical to determine the following:

  • The key contributors to the platform
  • The language to use

While this may seem like a minor challenge, proper communication is essential to keep a company working at its best. Without a proper communication method, productivity decreases. On a more basic level, if this is done in a language that's not universally accepted among all employees, it could cause a problem.

Building Out Standards

Another typical challenge of setting up a COE is creating and implementing standards to guide future production. Many organizations fail to implement government techniques that ensure procedures are both understood and observed.

Implementing with Multiple Users and Providers

Finally, one of the biggest challenges of using a REST API to create a company-wide COE is when the implementation needs to include multiple users and service providers. This can lead to a communication problem, because while multiple users shouldn't have a problem with understanding the company-wide communication verbiage, that can't be said for multiple service providers.

Take Your Application Integration to the Next Level

The above software integration practices can revolutionize your entire ERP. REST API solutions are easy to implement as long as you get it right.

© 2021 Derek Muensterman
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