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With digital transformation a top priority for many businesses, internal IT teams are increasingly finding themselves thinly stretched across all parts of the business and without in-depth expertise, particularly when it comes to things like integration. In effect, it's like asking your GP to do heart surgery. And the statistics back this up. In a recent study, 88% of IT leaders said integration challenges continue to slow digital transformation initiatives. So it comes as no surprise that the same respondents also said over half of their projects weren’t delivered on time last year.
Integration is a bottleneck holding back IT innovation and business growth. So why is that?
One of the main reasons is that integration is being treated as a core competency of the business. Yet, the fact is there is often limited time and expertise available, leading to additional pressures on already overworked IT teams working to deliver digital transformation.
Process efficiency, operational risk, cost, scalability and time are all major factors that are affected by integration, leading businesses to rethink their integration strategy to ensure continual innovation and delivery from their IT department.
So what’s the alternative? Here are five reasons why enterprises should outsource integration, so IT teams can focus more on strategic initiatives.
1. Integration is a specialised field that is easily outsourced
The most important reason is that integration is time-consuming, full of complications and complexities that make it a very specialised job. There’s a lot of ‘heavy lifting’ involved to make an integration work. A common misconception is that your IT team can juggle this very technical field on the top of all their other priorities.
When your team lacks the right platform and/or technical knowledge for the job, integration failures or bottlenecks occur. Turnaround times for issue resolution and onboarding of new trading partners also continue to compound.
In addition, while the ability to understand the technical aspect of integration is critical, so is the ability to understand the business problems and the implications of data on operational activities. This only comes with years of specialist experience in the field.
The specialised nature of integration means that it's easy to outsource. A good integration partner is one that requires few resources to manage, provides set service levels and pricing, has flexible scalability and can easily be removed when the capability is no longer needed.
2. The risk of staff turnover is critical to business continuity
Today’s reality is staff turnover risk is at an all-time high for enterprises managing their own integrations. In most cases, it’s one person who holds all the knowledge and is responsible for supporting and resolving issues that occur, often in the middle of the night.
How much time and money will it take to recruit and train a replacement? The talent pool for integration specialists is already slim, leaving the ability to scale your capability to meet growing integration requirements as an ongoing risk to the business.
Outsourcing integration completely removes the risk of internal knowledge towers disappearing overnight and creates flexibility to scale that capability as you need it. The reliance to support your integrations will no longer rest on the shoulders of a select few and instead, be proactively monitored and resolved 24/7 by a dedicated team.
3. It’s holding back delivery of your other IT projects
A flow on effect of poorly managed integrations is the reality that other IT projects tend to be put on ice. Why are these projects not being delivered? The same study found that IT teams spend, on average, 71% of their time running the business, leaving less than a third (29%) for equally critical development and innovation work.
With the number of IT projects needing to be delivered having increased by 40% this year, it’s creating a perfect storm for overworked IT teams and under-performing business results. Now more than ever, businesses need to be hyper focused on where they best utilise their internal resources to deliver value to the business.
4. You are losing new business opportunities
If your existing projects and issues are already being left behind, how are you expected to win and/or deliver on new customer contracts?
Customers, especially those operating in the supply chain, now expect real-time data integrated directly into their systems. This goes beyond ‘customer satisfaction’ and is actually linked to the contractual agreements. This results in additional costs to your business when you can't deliver on time and budget. If you can’t offer this critical capability, and quickly, you’re likely to lose business.
Another specialised area high on the priority list for your customer's qualification criteria is data security. If you can’t quickly meet security requirements and pass audits, then you’re not going to be the partner of choice.
Working with an outsourced integration provider can provide guaranteed service levels to your customers and mitigates the risk to your own business. It also helps fast-track your sales process thanks to strict security compliance measures and protocols that quickly meet customer requirements.
5. Inhouse integration costs more with poorer results
Integration is a specialised field. When you have access to specialists who live and breathe integration, backed by a world-class platform, the results speak for themselves.
Outsourcing this capability to experts means integrations are more robust and all the different business scenarios have been taken into account. This prevents additional resources and time spent fixing issues further down the line. If there are issues, a great integration partner has system monitoring and alerts in place that can resolve them before they impact business operations.
Often legacy integration platforms or EDI systems are another high cost, with hefty licensing fees or hidden costs based on increased data volumes. Ensuring the solution and commercial model are suited to your requirements and long-term growth plans should always be factored into your decision process.
In reality, it's the cost of the lost opportunity that is often the biggest. What could you have achieved if the time spent on integrations by your team was put to use elsewhere?
If you are an IT leader, here are a couple of questions to consider
- How many unresolved integration issues do you currently have?
- What are the implications to operations every minute they are not resolved?
- How much time do you spend managing integrations (e.g. your team, your current provider, maintenance of your software)
- How often do your integrations fail?
- How quickly can you turn around a new integration?
Taking away the stress with fully managed integrations
Crossfire’s speciality is in bundling all those integration scenarios up into a fully managed service, together with some simple and dependable pricing to set performance levels. What this means for a business is rather than trying to put all those elements together themselves, it can rely on us to create robust integrations and then manage them on an ongoing basis, without the hassle.
We’ve been doing this a long time, over 30 years now, so you could say we know a thing or two about integrations. We provide clients with full end-to-end integration solutions that takes care of the whole process - from the setup and configuration of new APIs and EDI through to the ongoing monitoring, maintenance and issue resolution, hosting, backups and security.
In effect, we take away the hassle of dealing with legacy systems, complex EDI requirements or internal IT team limitations that can really hinder your business growth. We make it as ‘hands off’ as possible so that you can get on with running your business and delivering on IT projects.