In a recent post, I illustrated my thoughts on integrations as a necessary part of the technological evolution of many products and services. Evolution and integration both come with costs, of course — costs that business leaders often underestimate.

Maintenance costs, for example, are often underestimated on integration projects, especially when making projections for the future. Suppose you’ve developed an integration with Product A’s API. You had a few phone calls to put the partnership in place, swapped documentation and tech contact info, and knocked out the project to start sending data into the other system. Everything is working great — you’re evolving and your customers are happy!

A few months down the road, a similar product, Product B, has developed an API and customers are looking for another integration. You’ve done this before, so it shouldn’t be too hard to put in place, right? Well, the docs show that Product B’s API is very different so it’s not a “cut and paste” situation, but you have a great tech staff and they can probably knock this out pretty quickly.

Now you get a phone call from the Product A alliance manager. Great news: they’ve made some fantastic updates but you’re going to need to update your integration to work with Version 2 before it’s live at the end of next week. This is going to impact your roadmap, but your team can scramble and make up for it in the following weeks. You assign a project manager to round up the development resources and coordinate testing for all of your impacted clients.

Suddenly, clients are calling. Something’s going on with your integration with Product B. After a few hours of phone calls, you find out your partner released a hot fix and didn’t notify you ahead of time. This means your integration is broken. You notify customer support and send an urgent notification to clients. You need to marshal more resources to jump on this problem now.

Your evolution just turned chaotic, and your cost projections just blew up. How many people had to get involved? What else had to get pushed aside when all hands had to jump on deck? It might surprise you to see an exact tally of how many “man hours” are invested when there is a bump in the road.

Any business relationship costs time and money. Phone calls involve various levels of management and subject matter experts. Integrations are no different. You must maintain a healthy relationship — keeping communication open and proactive at all times — with your integration partners to understand how they might impact your roadmap and projections. You also need to make very careful decisions about who you partner with for integrations and how many partnerships and integrations your business and resources can sustain.

The cost of integration management is the number one reason reThinkData developed SimpleAPI. I’ve personally felt the pain of poor integrations management and desperately sought a solution for years. SimpleAPI was the culmination of these experiences.

I stand behind my statement that integrations are a necessary part of evolution. There are costs associated with integration that we can’t ignore … but I’m going to continue to build healthy relationships with industry players to ensure that we join together and get connected.


photo credit: Broken Piggy Bank via photopin (license)