Getting Started with Integration Assessment
Christian described in his blog post five ways to “Faster Integration with SAP Business Technology Platform”. The first recommendation is to add guided technology choices for your integration projects:
Integration projects can fail at a very early stage, if the goals we defined are to be reached by misfitting technologies and methodologies. To find the most applicable technology right from the start, we need a methodical approach. The framework SAP Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M) provides such a methodology. Step by step it leads us to the most applicable integration technology, integration patten, blueprint and best practices.
To embed this methodology into a daily project routine, SAP provides a tool, the SAP Integration Assessment. In this tool everyone can update, review, document, and dive into the current state of integration, implementation, and policies. You directly define the policies to use the right technologies for the integration domains you want to support (e.g., processes, users, data, analytics) and with access to integration patterns, e.g., for chatbot integration, B2B communication or data orchestration.
Katrin wrote a very helpful blog post about the Integration Assessment capability within SAP Integration Suite. Katrin outlined the history, the main functionalities and outcomes you can get out of the Integration Assessment. I would like to show, what could be your first steps and kickstart within the new tool.
First steps: ISA-M configuration
After enabling the capability in the Integration Suite starting page you will find the Integration Assessment on https://<your-subaccountname>.intas.cfapps.eu20.hana.ondemand.com/app/index.html. Before using the tool, I definitely suggest to do a ISA-M workshop with your stakeholders and Integration experts!
At first you should check, if you need all Integration Domains, Styles, Pattern and Areas?
If you e.g. don’t have a Thing – Integration today, you can delete it form the list to get a better user experience when using the tool. After setting your ISA-M basic configuration you can continue with the next step.
Design your system landscape
You can define your system landscape on Configuration > Applications, where you have “Application Profiles” and “Application Instances”. The profile describes the type of your system. e.g. a SAP ERP, the instance your concrete implementation.
You can now do the same for the Integration Technologies, e.g. if you have a legacy file transfer application or some other platform. The idea is the same like before to first create a technology profile and after that the instances. If you have a Non-SAP solution, please create a new vendor before. If you completed your ISA-M assessment, you can directly enter the Integration Domains and styles. The SAP delivered data is being inserted and updated via SAP API Business Hub.
That completes the basic configuration on the Integration Assessment to be ready for the first request 🙂
Business Solution Request
The starting point for an integration request is mostly a business need by a new or changed business process. So, it makes very much sense to enter this data in a Business Solution Request by a key user or a functional consultant. This can be done in the request section:
Any further documentation can and should be added per link in the Attachment tab. Before submitting the request, you need to enter one or more Interface Requests with some basic data:
This concludes the work of the busines user. The next step will be covered by an Integration Architect or Lead Integration Developer with analyzing the requirement by a guided questionnaire. A template questionnaire is being delivered by SAP, but you should adjust it to your needs and the results of the ISA-M assessment. Some proposals and the way how to change the content will be described in a different blog. After entering all data and a final review step you will be led to the technology selection. The result is a list of (best) fitting Integration Technologies for you request together with a summary of the coverage percentage based on you´r answers in the questionnaire:
After that, the request is completed so that the deveopment team can start with the implementation.
Incorporation in your Delivery Process
One of the open questions is, how to incorporate the work with the new capability in your delivery process, what could be SCRUM, Waterfall, Activate or something else:
- Who will submit the Business Solution Request?
I think the best option is a key user or functional consultant. If this is not possible, an Integration Architect can submit the request after receiving the information in a story or ticket.
- Will an Integration Architect or Developer answer the questionaire?
My suggestion is, that an Integration Architect should handle the Integration Request together with a developer or the complete team in a refinement meeting.
- In which phase of the implementation process should the tool be used?
The most valuable approach would be to do it before starting the implementation and not as documentation afterwards: What about adding a mandatory field in your story with a link to the Integration Assessment request, so that there is no story in the sprint without valid request data?
- What happens if the technology selection does not fit?
It will happen from time to time, that you will implement an integration with a different tool than the proposed one in the Integration Assessment. If that happens, check your configuration and your questionnaire: Perhaps an aspect is missing? If you do the implementation in a different way, document it in a list, that could be checked after some time to hopefully fix technical debts.
Recommendation and Outlook
When using the tool, you will come to the question if there are multiple instances of the tool in every instance of the Integration Suite? I think the best idea is to have one central instance of the Integration Assessment capability in the development tennant because the assessment will be done before or during integration development. Perhaps there will be some APIs in the future so that the data can be synched or im- and exported tp have the data in every instance…
Will the tool answer all questions for a new integration (technology selection) with a super fancy artificial intelligence? For sure not, but it will implement your thoughts and ideas of the ISA-M workshops in a tool. In this way, it can replace manual work wth Excel and easily generates reports and documentation, what can be accessed by all employees of the company.
Start small and expand it to a companywide solution
Integration Assessment is general available now and is included in most SAP Integration Suite subscriptions for productive use, including Cloud Platform Enterprise Agreement (CPEA) and Pay As You Go (PAYG) for SAP BTP. You may also try out Integration Assessment for evaluation purpose using the free SAP BTP trial.
Get started to explore and test the pre-delivered guiding content. Create your own integration policies, key characteristics and questionnaires and try it out. Detailed instructions about how to use Integration Assessment can be found at the product documentation.
I suggest starting small in one specific area, learn what makes sense for your organisation and expand it step by step to a companywide solution. A different approach could be to start with the Integration Assessment in your team, generate some experience and content in the tool and then go live. I think using the tool will help us to improve our overall Integration Architecture and making Integration solutions more transparent!
What are your ideas for the new tool? In which way do you use it in your integration development process? Would it make sense to integrate it Cloud Integration? Let’s discusss it and gain some ideas to make Integration Assessment more useful.