6 practical tips to properly plan your data integration project

6 practical tips to properly plan your data integration project

You want to centralize your data, create a 360-degree client view. Do you want to connect your ERP, CRM, CMS, Google Analytics, e-commerce platform, marketing automation, accounting system, etc.? Or do you have reports that require data from multiple sources and take hours or even days to update every month?

Regardless of the reason that motivates your decision to integrate data from your different systems, sooner or later you’ll feel overwhelmed by the magnitude it can take… especially if this is your first experience.

At Numea, this is not our first time with this type of project. Here are our tips to consider before you start!

1. Align your project with your business priorities

Even though it’s a data project, make sure you’ll be able to address business issues and deliver value to your organization. Meet with the business units that could benefit from your project to take an inventory of needs. Here are some of the questions to address:

  • What irritants cost your organization the most (in terms of financial and/or efficiency)?
  • What opportunities require better use of your data?
  • Do you have quick wins you can achieve?

Once the inventory is done, you can prioritize based on the effort required vs. the anticipated impact.

2. Deliver tangible results quickly

The key to success is to start with a quick win. This will help you quickly gain credibility within your organization, as you will have delivered value in a short time and at relatively low cost. You give yourself the chance to explore the data without taking too big of a bite. As you progress, the effort required will decrease, as you will take advantage of what you have already created.

3. Be agile and flexible in your planning

If there’s one certainty, it’s that you’ll have surprises and your data won’t be perfect. Your Gantt chart will need to be revised fairly quickly. Be flexible in how you get your results. The important thing is to produce in iterative mode and to validate regularly with stakeholders and never lose sight of the business needs.

In addition, it sometimes happens that exploring your data can be beneficial and can help you see more clearly later. For example, if you need to develop a sales dashboard, start by analyzing your sales. This analysis will make it easier to identify the key factors to consider when designing your dashboard. Most importantly, it will allow your operational teams to act quickly if there are performance issues that require attention.

4. Clean up your data and clarify your processes

We often talk about the famous garbage in, garbage out but what practical steps can be taken to avoid undermining the credibility of your project with erroneous data, metrics or business rules?

First, explore the data sources in detail and evaluate their quality. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are the fields populated systematically or not?
  • Are there standardized processes for capturing information, or do keywords need to be extracted from unstructured information?

A problem often encountered is that the people who enter the information do not know how you want to use it and have not done so with this consideration. In this sense, it is very likely that you will have to review some processes to have more reliable and sustainable data in the future.

5. Think about the added value for the end user

Users must be at the heart of your project and you must regularly validate with them if what you are developing meets their needs. Develop what is called an MVP (minimum viable product), a product with minimum viability, and put it in their hands. Afterwards, you can adjust based on their feedback.

6. Maximize the use of your data

For every increment of data that you make available, make sure you get the maximum value from it. Go beyond dashboards! With this in mind, advanced analytics can help you uncover relevant and useful insights that you wouldn’t have been able to discover with your performance reports. Best of all, you can combine the strength of these analytics by integrating them into your reports. You can also make projections or identify factors that have a positive or negative impact on your sales or on the engagement of your customers.

Obviously, our seventh tip would be to join forces with a partner who has experience in this type of project. In addition to saving time, you will get support to assess the future impact of each of your decisions. Do not hesitate to contact us to be well taken care of.

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