Saving on Systems Integration Costs

If you’ve ever bought an enterprise system, you know that the sticker price is usually only a small fraction of the total cost of ownership and that the implementation and integration costs can dwarf the sticker price by an order of magnitude. As a result, integration costs often present supply management with an opportunity to save six or seven figures. But how? Especially when 70% of enterprise projects fail to deliver on their initial promise?

In a word, planning. According to several experts in the field, the most common problems that arise when companies set out to integrate procurement, distribution, warehousing and communication systems come not in executing their plans, but rather in conceptualizing them. The reality is that if your plans are good enough, you can get a junior team fresh out of an India technical school to implement them successfully*. But if the plans aren’t good enough, you might as well take that money to Las Vegas, because those 10% odds of success are better than the odds of your project succeeding.

Not only do you need a shared view of success at the enterprise level, as discussed in this article on drawing the lines on system integration, but you need a detailed plan that describes what systems will be integrated, what modules will be linked, what data will be exchanged, what functionality will result from the integration, and what success cases look like. Coding is rarely the challenge. It’s usually knowing what to code.

* Unfortunately, the doctor has never seen plans this good. It is possible to create them, but it seems that companies never spend enough time in the planning stage anymore …

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