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Integration as a Strategic Imperative – Part 5: Smart Lifecycle Management

Welcome to Part 5 of the SAP’s ‘Integration as a Strategic Imperative’ blog series. In this blog post, we will focus on the concept of Lifecycle Management

As revealed in my first post of this blog series, the recent ASUG survey on the state of integration reveals that integration is becoming an increasing strategic imperative for organizations of all sizes as they deal with the challenges imposed in this fast-paced digital economy. One element of integration we haven’t yet discussed in this blog series is how the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite can be seamlessly woven into your IT lifecycle management and governance processes. The controlled continuous process of development, testing, and deployment that facilitates the integration of applications and management of integration pathways and protocols is a critical component of any integration strategy.

The difference between high quality integration and everything else is paramount. Botched integration efforts, often the result of an organization failing to identify errors and anomalies in the process during the development and testing phases can introduce a cascading series of errors, instigating labor-intensive clean-up and error resolution efforts that siphon resources from important goals. An integration center of excellence (CoE) within an organization ensures that integration development is standards-compliant, testing is comprehensive and thorough, and operations are monitored so that organizations can proactively adapt to potential issues on the horizon rather than be in a constant state of reactivity, playing costly defense when they should be devoting resources to a forward press.

In order to effectively anticipate and respond to whatever problems may arise, the CoE team must understand both the software systems in play and the organization’s underlying end-to-end business processes. At the helm of the CoE team, as I alluded to in the first post for this series, is the role of a Chief Integration Officer (CINTO), who understands the strategic business goals the organization is aiming to achieve and how the organization’s IT department serves to realize those goals. This holistic knowledge informs the CINTO’s approach to lifecycle management, inspiring a strategy that best supports and informs the organization’s overall integration efforts—balancing the need for speed and agility against the requirement for process adherence and governance.

Smart lifecycle management relies on the informed, engaged professionals of the CoE, but the foundation of their essential work is an integration platform that provides real-time information and intelligence and sends alerts for corrective action. SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite has the unique advantage of functioning in either of two lifecycle management paradigms: agile development with an eye to innovation and the more traditional approach of maintaining existing applications and operational processes. Whether an organization’s back-office integration updates are performed in a highly regulated quarterly process due to IT governance and legal regulations or an agile arm of the company requires nightly builds and changes, the flexibility and adaptability of the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite ensures that the CoE can get the job done.

The SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite offers other important integration benefits. The cloud-first strategy enabled means that some of the traditional IT lifecycle management chores have been eradicated—no more weekends devoted to bringing a system offline, applying patches, then testing and bringing the system back online. Cloud software changes are applied on a rolling basis and managed by SAP.

While cloud software has become standard in the industry, SAP is the only software vendor that delivers integration content that is owned and maintained by SAP—my colleagues Michael Hill and Harshavardhan Jegadeesan in blogs #3 and #4 respectively, have addressed this as well. Many vendors offer off-the-shelf templates or accelerators that can be used as a starting point to build an integration scenario from system A to system B, but once those components are off the shelf and in an organization’s workflow, they need to be maintained and updated regularly. SAP, on the other hand, offers pre-built integrations for S/4HANA to Success Factors as well as a number of 3rd part applications, for example, so that any change to Success Factors will also be processed within the pre-built integration content. An organization must download the new content according to their timeline, but because the development and QA testing is handled by SAP, there is no need to involve in-house developers, which lowers the total cost of ownership for our customers.

Integration Increases Productivity at Murphy Oil

Murphy Oil Corporation, had their ROI realized in less than a year when they turned to SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite to tackle the integration of more than fifteen disparate systems, which, operating in isolation, were significantly delaying business decisions and processes. Murphy’s Remote Operation Center staff actually spent 25 percent of their time locating and collating data from different sources, a system that was not only inefficient but also extremely error-prone. SAP Cloud Platform allowed Murphy to create, in only ten weeks, a one-stop platform to capture data from multiple business processes, enable real-time data processing, and empower administrative teams to proactively monitor resources and quickly assign tasks. Since deploying the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite, Murphy has seen a 15 to 20 percent increase in productivity.

An integration center of excellence that practices smart lifecycle management is instrumental in upholding a cohesive and adaptable integration strategy. SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite helps the Chief Integration Officer and the overall organization make accurate, efficient work of monitoring integration processes so that integration can do what it’s supposed to do: keep your organization streamlined, efficient, and moving ever-forward.

Up Next

Take a deeper look into the capabilities of the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite and tune into to our final post of this 6-part integration blog series that discusses the intersection between integration and analytics. Read the introduction to this blog series including an overview of all recently published parts of the series here.

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