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Picture this: you’re at the office, and you have a job to do. Naturally, you need software to complete at least some portion of your job. You’ve found that no single platform has all the features you need to complete the work. Many infogov professionals are in the same boat. Repeating data entry into multiple systems and keeping them in sync manually can be a time-consuming process. How do you address this common and frustrating issue?
Many of us use the best features from different systems and create a process to get the systems to work together, so we have access to all the features we need. This can be a great way to address gaps in your existing systems or, if done without careful planning, it could further complicate your work. The possible result? A bulky, inefficient workflow that can cost your business an untold fortune in wasted time. But don’t feel overwhelmed! Here, we offer some things to consider if you plan to address gaps by integrating your systems:
- It can be complex. Properly integrating software isn’t always easy and can involve a lot of moving parts. Often, when you integrate applications, an update to one can create a waterfall effect where you find yourself upgrading other applications, so they all stay compatible.
- It can be expensive. If you find you need continuous maintenance of the applications, you might need to involve outside assistance. Often, you need your core group of employees to focus on their day-to-day work. Though specialized help might be expensive, the alternative—doing nothing—can cost even more.
- It can be dangerous. Every system has different security features that may not align with your company’s security requirements. If you integrate a system with security flaws, you could be exposing your company and data to a major breach and massive penalties.
If you decide to move forward with your software integrations, here are some suggestions to ensure your project is a success:
- If you can, plan. Many people don’t have the luxury of planning integrations in advance, but if you do, it’s the best first step. If the integration you need involves software from different vendors, discuss best practices with each vendor. You might find one vendor has a solution that beats the integration approach.
- Test your integrations. It’s essential that you define procedures to follow, so it’s both easy to verify the applications are integrated and to test them. Involve the correct people to ensure all security measures are up to par before going live.
- Develop processes. Develop a clearly outlined process for those that will use the software to prevent any confusion or hiccups in the workflow.
- Make a plan to maintain your integration. Having a maintenance plan in place and identifying who is responsible for it will help you avoid catastrophe. For example, if your software is several versions behind, it might take more resources than you can spare to get everything up-and-running after an update.
If you understand the risks, carefully plan your system integrations, establish a workflow, and maintain your system, you will get the most benefit from your application integrations. In the world of information governance, it’s crucial to know what information you have, where it is, and how it’s used. Seamlessly integrated systems are critical to helping you ensure workflow efficiency and compliance with the laws and regulations that affect your information.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this post is to provide general education on Information Governance topics. The statements are informational only and do not constitute legal advice. If you have specific questions regarding the application of the law to your business activities, you should seek the advice of your legal counsel.