Integration Can Be A Four Letter Word

Here’s a few things:

Intended Outcomes: Don’t lose sight of what should happen. Let’s be clear, I’m relatively sure my technology provider didn’t intend for me to jump through hoops and fix their integration problems, but that’s what happened. An organization using BPO should look for these detached integrations. Also, consider the efficacy of testing the outsourced processes acting in various roles (first-time buyer, preferred customer, even a delinquent customer) to see if the integrations work.

Additionally, BPO providers have to understand intended outcomes, and the potential unintended consequences of integration holes, and proactively develop—with their clients—what the intended outcomes should be in those situations.

What’s In The Box?: Traditionally, many BPO providers took the stance of “Tell us what you need, we’ll worry about how.” I suggest that organizations need to understand more about how their BPO providers are integrated. Achieving intended outcomes might require integration of some data, business logic, business processes or all three.

Is the provider proposing to use ad-hoc data integration when the scenario lends itself more to process integration? For providers, vigilance around their clients’ current requirements and a bit of foresight about what the future holds might drive them from relatively simple data exchange to a service-oriented architecture and integration model.

Instrumentation: Regardless of the integration model, instrumentation just makes sense, enabling critical areas of measurement from data quality to SLA goals to regulatory compliance. Organizations need to understand the level of instrumentation within their provider’s infrastructure and what level of access they have to those measures. For providers, it is imperative they engineer instrumentation into their infrastructure, service offerings and culture.

In subsequent articles, I’ll explore more of the challenges of BPO integration, and posit some potential approaches that can help providers and their clients achieve their intended outcomes.

Mark Cioni, president of MV Cioni Associates, has been helping global businesses to improve their decisions, operations and performance for over 25 years. He can be reached at [email protected].