Software integration: 8 tips for project success

By Manufacturing Business Technology Staff April 23, 2009

Communication is key when working with a system integrator, according to a recent Reed Business Information survey. Eight key tips follow to ensure those involved explain project details with stakeholders; disseminate decisions to all responsible for designing, implementing or using the system; and make sure everyone understands what needs to be done, along with why and how. Learn more, below.
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In a recent survey of more than 1,800 system integrators another Reed Business Information publication asked for tips to ensure the success of an automation project. Hundreds responded, commenting on how to pick an integrator, design the automation system, manage the project, test the finished product and otherwise get the desired results for the end user. Above all else, respondents advised their clients to communicate effectively. Eight key tips follow, all applicable to software integration efforts.
1. Communicate early and often, even before the first line of code is written.
The client needs to give a prospective integrator full access to all plant personnel directly involved with the proposed project, as early in the buying cycle as possible.
2. Define the stakeholders on both teams and determine who needs what information.
3. End users need to read all documents their integrators give them; clarify where needed; 80% of problems with projects are a lack of the proper communications between the client and the integrator.
4. Communicate with all involved throughout the process: managers, operations, so everyone becomes champions rather than opponents.
5. Designate someone in-house to “own” the project.
6. Use communication tools such weekly production meetings to manage action lists. End users should have project meetings with their integrators at least monthly, obtaining commitments, assigning dates and a person responsible for each, and follow up.
7. End users should modify system requirements and designs as capabilities, interactions, and implications emerge, since these things are rarely known or anticipated at the beginning, communicating with the integrator, with a methodology to handle changes.
The eighth point is often forgotten through commissioning and startup.
8. Continue communications beyond startup and operations , ensuring appropriate training is in place, defining deliverables, such as manuals, maintenance, and decommissioning, if needed.
– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, Reed Business Information,