Integration requirements – how to properly form your requirements for successful integration?

A framework for easy gathering of integration requirements and specific questions you need to answer for successful system integration.

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Introduction

Most enterprises use a plethora of software tools in their daily operations. These are, for example, monitoring tools (like OpsBridge, AppDynamics, or Dynatrace), ITSM tools (like ServiceNow, Jira Service Management, or BMC Remedy), CRM tools (like Salesforce or Zendesk Sell), DevOps tools (like Jira and Azure DevOps), and others. Most companies cannot operate without the platforms that help them with all daily tasks and workflows. On the other hand using many disparate software systems often causes significant decreases in operational efficiency and reporting. Organizations need to have a good solution for coordinating between systems and tracking the activities happening within their ecosystem.

This is why system integrations are becoming more and more popular. Most organizations have either implemented some integrations between their platforms or are looking to do some. Integrations provide lots of benefits, like faster issue resolutions, better communication between teams and departments, increase in customer satisfaction, and significantly reducing errors and faulty data. We can say that system integrations give a huge competitive advantage.

When you are looking into a particular integration, the first step is to form your integration requirements.

What are integration requirements?

Once the need for integration is detected, the specific integration requirements should be assessed and described precisely, so that the integration project can be properly completed.

A successful data integration project starts with a document that clarifies the related systems, expected behavior, and features of the integration.

This document defines all the integration requirements, the activities necessary to complete them, and the components involved.

Lets have a detailed look at the process of gathering integration requirements and documenting them properly.

How to form your integration use case?

You can start forming your integration requirements by describing your use case. For this purpose, you need to gather as much data as possible from the involved teams using the systems that will be integrated. Ask them about their daily work schedule, what repetitive tasks they do constantly, how much time it takes, and what other teams they work with.

Many of the repetitive tasks that each team does on a daily basis can be automated with integration. Connecting your systems helps you eliminate manual transfer of data and optimize communication between teams.

Here is an example with a Jira ServiceNow integration:

The helpdesk team in an organization is using ServiceNow and the DevOps team is using Jira to manage their daily tasks. The helpdesk team receives a new incident in their ServiceNow queue and identifies it as a software bug. When there is no integration between the systems, the ServiceNow team needs to either open Jira and manually enter all the details there, or provide the information via email, chat, or phone. This process is prone to errors and often requires several conversations and transferring data back and forth. The resolution of the issue is delayed, and important info might be omitted.

A professional integration between ServiceNow and Jira can solve all these issues and speed up the process significantly.

The integration can be set to automatically generate and update Jira issues in real-time, based on pre-defined criteria. With a secure and synchronized connection between ServiceNow and Jira, effortless communication between the helpdesk team and the developers takes place within the comments, eliminating the need for additional tools or cumbersome data transfers.

With a bi-directional integration, whenever the developer fixes the Jira issue, the corresponding ServiceNow incident will be instantly updated. The end customer will receive a notification that their problem has been resolved. Automatic synchronization of log files, traces, issue links, and attachments streamlines defect tracking and fixing, as well as change request management.

See the details on how you can integrate Jira, ServiceNow and more systems within minutes using the ZigiOps integration platform.

How to gather integration requirements?

Once you describe your use case in detail, taking into consideration the information you gathered from the involved teams, you can start forming the integration requirements document itself.

For the integration requirements you need to consider:

  • The integration use case

ake all the details you have and pull the meaningful data from them  which systems you need integrated, which entities will need to be transferred between the systems, which fields you need to synchronize, and how do they need to transform?

  • Future needs of the company and how the integration will possibly evolve

It needs to easily incorporate any changes and updates, without breaking the initial integration setup.

  • How the needs of the teams might change with time, and when they grow

One of the main things to consider when choosing an integration tool is its possibility to scale together with your teams and company needs. It is quite important to make sure the integration will be able to grow with you.

  • Plan uncommon or corner use cases

Is there a chance for cases that do not fit the standard scenario, but can still be present? Maybe there are users with part of the information missing? Or the data would need some additional specific setting? Does the status field of one system match the status types in the other system or not? Does one of the systems has part of the data required or mandatory, while the other system does not? If all of these are properly planned, the integration can still work perfectly.

  • If necessary, talk to end users or partners

Sometimes partners or end users might be involved in the workflows that the integration automates. Talk to them and see what would make their daily tasks easier.

Framework for gathering integration requirements

When you have all the scenarios gathered, here are some standard questions that will help you for your integration requirements plan. You can use them as a framework and easily gather all the data you need.

  • How many and which systems will be integrated?

Examples: Standard integration between two systems (like Jira and ServiceNow); integration between 3 systems; more systems will be included in one way or another; etc.

  • What will trigger the integration to run?

Examples: A new ticket has been created; a new incident with a specific status; a new incident assigned to a specific user group; etc.

  • How often will the integration run?

Examples: Every time there is a new ticket; every minute; every hour; weekly; etc.

  • Will it be a one-way or two-way (bi-directional) integration?

Examples: Will you need to back sync the changes and updates that are made in the transferred (created by the integration) entity to the initial entity?

  • What data (entities) will be transferred?

Examples: Tickets; Incidents; Topology; Configuration items; Bugs; etc.

  • Which fields or specific data needs to be transferred?

Examples: Name; Description; Status; Attachments; Comments; etc.

  • Will any data need to be modified when transferred?

Examples: Have a look at a few examples on modifying data through the mapping capabilities of ZigiOps in this video.

  • How many users will be involved?

Examples: Less than 10; more than 100; more than 1000; etc.

  • How many transfers do you expect to make per day?

Examples: If your service desk team gets more than 100 tickets per day, and you transfer each new ticket, this means you will need to make more than 100 transfers. If you are back syncing the data, this means more transfers.

  • Will you need only one workflow or several workflows?

Examples: You might have just one sync between tickets and incidents and have two systems integrated. That would be one workflow. If you have tickets synced to events, and separately topology synced to problems, and more than two systems integrated, that would make two workflows.

The possibilities are endless here, and each organization has different needs.

How to work with the framework?

Talk to everyone involved and gather as much info as possible on the above questions. If necessary, add more questions or extend the scenarios. Try to include all possible cases and avoid assumptions. Clarify any situation that might eventually affect the integration.

When you have detailed answers to the questions from the framework and have gathered all the necessary information, you will be very close to having your integration requirements document ready.

From this moment on, you can start narrowing down the integration methods and solutions that will be best for your scenario.

You can either develop the integration internally or find a tech partner that can offer a good integration solution to you. Keep in mind that internal integrations require lots of resources. A dedicated person or a whole team might need to work on the integration, they need to incorporate all future needs and evolvement that you outlined in the integration requirements, and the cost might be quite difficult to calculate.

This is why we would recommend contacting a few integration providers and talking to them. A good integration solution would also have a responsive tech support team that can help you gather and finalize your integration requirements.

The ZigiOps team will be happy to help in case you experience any difficulties with your integration requirements, and we also offer a free demo and PoC during which usually all vague or unclear questions do clarify. Contact us today, book a free demo, and share your case  we will be happy to help.

Summary

Gathering your integration requirements is the first and most important step for successful integration. When your integration requirements are properly documented, you can easily choose the best tool to do the job and find the most cost-effective solution.

Furthermore, you will be able to cover all the needs of the involved teams, and make sure that even if the needs of the organization change or grow, the integration will continue to work properly. Scalability and security are among the essential things to consider when choosing an integration method. You also need to make sure the integration will be stable and wont lose any data in case of system downtimes.

The ZigiOps platform can help you cover all of the integration requirements. It is highly scalable and customizable. At the same time it has out-of-the-box templates that help create your integration within minutes, instead of months (like most other integration tools). Security is at enterprise level and the tool does not store any of the data being transferred.

Conclusion

Integration requirements are fundamental for building a successful integration between two or more systems. If your integration requirements are well formed, you have great chances of getting a ton of benefits and a huge competitive advantage from your integrations.

Using the framework with pre-defined questions can help a lot in forming a good list of integration requirements. However, it is highly recommended to consult with a team of specialists, as well.

Once you are ready with your case and have responded to all the questions, you can contact the ZigiWave team, and we will be happy to guide you further with your integration. Our specialists and integration engineers know all the underwater stones that you can stumble upon and will help you avoid them. We will make sure your integration project is first-class and meets your requirements to the fullest. Contact us today and make sure your integration project will be highly successful.

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