Businesses face a constant challenge in bridging the gaps between systems. When there is an overhaul of the customer-facing technology, it usually requires modifications to the existing approaches to facilitate the completion of a customer inquiry or a transaction. Any disconnects between the new technology and the legacy backend systems are sure to leave operations in disarray.
The worst case scenario in bridging the gap is manual intervention which is inefficient and error-prone. Integration, when done in an adhoc manner, creates cumbersome handoffs leading to frustration and delays. A thoughtful approach is needed to ensure effective integration.
Data capture and transfer
There is a tendency to collect more information than necessary. In designing a solution, focus on what you absolutely need to facilitate the required work. In doing so, you minimize user effort and simplify the data transfer work. To the customer, time savings and ease are paramount. To the application developer, every piece of data requires mapping in the backend systems for purposes of triggering operating activities. Minimized data transfer also translates to faster processing, enabling expedient turnaround time. From the support and maintenance perspective, there would be lower overhead.
Rules for driving activities
Business rules determine the sequence of workflow. These rules could relate to an approval for a membership application or to processing a refund. Each rule serves a purpose. Explore if the new frontend technology offers capabilities for performing checks and balances. This helps to eliminate manual intervention. Don’t forget to verify the legitimacy of each business rule. Make appropriate changes to the rules so as to align your work activities with the business’ policies and practices. There might be a need to rationalize operational policies and practices. You might consider this as opening a can of worms. But avoiding the work now is skirting around the issues but they would resurface down the road.
Enhancement to backend systems
When all the needs relating to the ideal end-to-end workflow are identified, determine the feasibility of enhancing the backend systems. Review the functionalities available with the backend systems and look for ways to bridge outstanding gaps. Be open-minded with the ‘how’ but be assertive with the ‘end’ as there are different ways to accomplish a goal. Consult the system experts to assess the pros and cons of the options that are available. Reach out to other organizations which have implemented similar solutions and get their feedback. Their experiences would offer great insight for your decision-making process. Strive for simplicity and practicality.
In developing a sound plan for bridging the frontend with the backend, you need to take a holistic view of your needs before diving in. Thorough and thoughtful consideration to delivering the desired business objectives will establish a clear, rational framework for the integration.