How To Avoid Common Pitfalls During Third-Party Integration
Integrating with third-party solutions has become a fundamental practice for businesses aiming to employ external tools, services, and technologies.
Over the past two decades, the need for such integrations has dramatically grown, driven by the desire to improve functionality, extend capabilities, and provide more comprehensive solutions.
But these integrations, while essential, pose significant challenges that can disrupt even the best-organized development projects.
This article dives into the integration challenges of third-party solutions and provides practical tips to overcome common issues.
What Is Systems Integration?
Integration between systems means connecting different software or hardware systems so they can smoothly work together. Normally, it involves:
- Data Transfers: Sharing information between systems, like databases or real-time data streams.
- Push/Pull Models: Either sending data automatically when it changes (push) or requesting data when needed (pull).
- APIs: Using predefined rules to let systems communicate and share functions without knowing each other’s details.
Integration helps businesses run more efficiently, make better decisions with shared data, and create powerful solutions. But it also requires handling challenges like data compatibility, security, and system changes.
The Typical Pitfalls When Dealing With 3d-Party Integration
When integrating with 3d-party solutions, companies often face many pitfalls that can lead to disruptions, inefficiencies, security risks, or failed projects. It’s crucial to be aware of these potential issues to effectively plan and execute integrations.
Here are some typical pitfalls.
Estimation and Planning
The pitfall of underestimating the complexity and integration challenges can lead to significant planning difficulties. To mitigate this pitfall, it is important to take the following steps:
- Request an additional step for analyzing the integration before providing any estimates: One of the most critical aspects of successful integration is a comprehensive understanding of the third-party solution you’re working with. Before providing any estimates, insist on a thorough analysis of the integration requirements. This will help uncover potential challenges, dependencies, and complexities that might not be evident initially.
- Thoroughly read the documentation and check feedback from others: Rely on the documentation provided by the third-party solution, but don’t stop there. Seek out real-world experiences and feedback from other developers who have integrated with the same solution. Their insights can highlight common issues and provide valuable context.
- Prototype the integration: Create a prototype or proof of concept to test the feasibility of the integration. Prototyping allows you to identify potential roadblocks and estimate the effort more accurately.
- Add a buffer of at least 20% to your original estimates: Despite thorough planning, you can face unexpected challenges. By adding a buffer to your estimates, you create a safety net to adjust to unforeseen issues without disrupting the project timeline.
- Inform your customer that integration is an iterative process: Many customers expect a straightforward integration process. But in reality, it often involves iterations and adjustments. Clearly communicate this to your customer, setting expectations from the beginning.
- Maintain detailed control over the integration process: Regularly review and re-estimate the effort required for each integration phase. Be prepared to adjust your plans based on new information or changing circumstances.
Availability of the Test Systems
The availability of test systems for integration is a critical but often underestimated pitfall that can seriously impact the success of an integration project.
To mitigate this pitfall, it’s crucial to:
- Ensure that test systems are available from both your side and the third-party solution provider’s side: Integration testing is essential to identify and resolve issues before deploying the solution in a production setting. Both parties must provide access to test systems to enable thorough testing and validation.
- Ensure the availability of test systems: Without access to test environments, you’re virtually working in the dark. Test systems allow you to imitate real-world scenarios, validate data transfers, and detect potential conflicts early on.
Availability of Technical Support
The availability of technical support from the integration system provider is essential for troubleshooting, resolving issues, and maintaining the integrity of the integrated systems.
Here’s a detailed expansion of what you need to do:
- Have a dedicated contact person for technical support: During integration, you can face some issues that may require prompt resolution. Therefore, having a designated point of contact on the side of the third-party solution provider is a must. The best way to establish this contact is through instant messaging or chat rooms for faster and more effective communication.
- Reliable technical support is crucial for resolving any issues: Integration projects can encounter unexpected burdens, such as compatibility issues, data discrepancies, or unexpected errors. Having access to responsive technical support guarantees that you can address these challenges on time, reduce downtime, and minimize the impact on your project.
Security breaches can have serious effects, including disclosure of confidential information, financial loss, reputational damage, and legal consequences. To mitigate security pitfalls, consider the following steps:
- Carefully check and clarify security aspects during the analysis phase: Security should be a top priority when integrating with third-party solutions, especially when you deal with sensitive data. Understand the security measures and protocols employed by the third-party system, and make sure they align with your organization’s security requirements.
- Address security concerns with the third-party solution provider: If you identify any security vulnerabilities or have specific security requirements, clearly discuss them with the third-party provider. Also, get confirmation that the integration does not compromise the system’s overall security.
This pitfall refers to a situation where the documentation provided by one or more parties involved in the integration process does not accurately reflect the actual behavior or requirements of the systems being integrated.
This misalignment between documentation and the real system can lead to confusion, errors, delays, and unexpected challenges during the integration project.
Here’s a more detailed overview of the steps to take to get over this issue:
- Request a plan for updating APIs from the integrating system: APIs are a central compone