Saturday, 16 February 2013

Integration Projects : Key areas of focus! From Developer’s desk

Integration project are never simple and is always complex in terms of management, development and entity integration. Support activity of such project is intricate. I am sharing my experience as I was fortunate enough to work in both development as well as support activity of an integration project. The views presented are primarily for fresher who are gearing up for new challenges in IT industry. No technical jargon, simply an useful tips from hand on experience at work.

Integration process : Source: Internet

Few key areas of focus are as follows:-

  1.  Functional Knowledge: - This aspect is must not only for integration projects but for all kind of projects. Technical knowledge of an IT engineer fetches project entry but functional knowledge provides longevity in projects. One should use every opportunity to gain more of functional knowledge about the domain of industry they are carrying out projects. In context to integration projects this helps a lot to single out the faulty system when in issue/error. 

    2. Core systems in integration: - Since integration projects are combination of various systems. Being aware of other systems at least in context to kind of data they receive/provides will be useful to enable complete functioning of the project. You may be involve in one aspect of the system but for its functioning complete grasp of other dependent systems are required. It not only reduces the time of analysis but also spotting the origin of an error.

      3. Input and output data: - To evaluate an integration support issues we should master input and output data. One should be acquainted with complete flow of data i.e. what is fed as input followed by its flow in various systems in between for data interaction to final stage of data output. This common concept is widely missed by engineers in support activity which led them to confusion during the major issues in production. The fire-fight become difficult as support engineers tries to escape from the initial analysis phase for obvious reason of the timing. There are several tools available which has been integrated in project to help and visualize the error which we should be aware off. 

      4.  Key contacts of system owners: - The bit of successfully resolving issue also lies in the kind of contacts list you have in place for a projects you are involved in. Issues can be multi-layer in nature where to progress in your analysis you might need help from your dependent system. So you should know whom to call or as a result of your analysis you found that next level of analysis need to be carried out by other core systems in project. So always update your points of contact in such projects.

      5. Asking right questions to yourself: - Whenever you are assigned task or problem/incident ticket remember to ask some key questions to yourself such as which area this issue has happened? What is kind of input and output is expected? How can your responsible system would help or diagnose the issue? What should be the starting point? Now all this questions will have answer within you only when you have successfully completed step 1 to 4. People in IT industry who are no way responsible in fixing the issue happen to ask smart questions so in order to satisfy them all the above questions answer should be made available by you.

         6. Patience: - Over and above your programming and functional knowledge you have to have a quality of being patience. I can tell from my experience that however good the project management is and with the use of better tools such as trace tracking, error management etc. along with use of software development/management life cycle processes such as SCRUM, AGILE you are bound to be assign with incident ticket which is not yours. As the person assign the ticket is someone from helpdesk who does not necessarily bound by any of the above 5 steps. Patience why because if you have to support 24X7 then you usually get call in midnight. The responsibility does not end saying either you do not understand the incident or it does not belong to your system area of access. You have to attend the call as well as need to carry out necessary analysis to provide base to your both above statement with valid reasoning. 

         7.  Leadership skills: - This skill is essential as most of the time you need to take lead to bring all party on table to explain and help in identifying faulty system. Leadership skill not necessarily means that you need to be manager or above all I want to convey is you should have courage to take incident head on and try to resolve although it is not your system incident. This will really shine your personality in long run. Though you manage one system but incident manager will always prefer your point of view in other problems as well. That means you will occupy GO-TO man place in project.

Guys if you are interested to know more about IT soft skills please visit below sites. They are really useful going forward.

Thank You!
Satender Kumar Mall
Twitter: satenderiiit