In part one of this two-part blog series, I discussed how the ConnectALL Integration Platform can enable communication between teams almost instantaneously – processes, data (like status, priority, and assignee data), dependencies between issues (like “this issue depends on this other issue being resolved first”), comments, and attachments can be shared across an organization. The ConnectALL Integration Platform can create an efficient collaboration mechanism. The Platform also reduces the number of licenses needed for an application (ConnectALL only needs one license per application synchronized), and users only have to be trained on one platform. They continue to use the tool they are used to without having to switch to another tool in order to do manual data entry.
While this is an excellent solution for optimization of service processes inside the company, I asked about collaboration with external vendors. Could you implement a similar process and integration approach to smooth the communication and collaboration between teams in different companies, perhaps a manufacturer and an outside vendor providing services or materials?
For example (and this is a real situation), a slot machine manufacturer depends on external software developers to create games for its slot machines. Of course, this requires a lot of coordination. It is necessary to coordinate to define the functions of the game, to coordinate with the manufacturer, to coordinate with regulatory agencies that monitor the algorithms used in the game, and to communicate with the involved parties as the release date approaches in order to ensure that the software is ready and available in time for the machine’s manufacture. Finally, test cases would be developed by the manufacturer and executed by the game developer to ensure that the games correctly implement the correct algorithms, and that these algorithms interface correctly with the hardware. Coordinating between all parties involved is a difficult process, with many players involved. Communication, collaboration, and coordination are all important for the successful rollout of the slot machine.
Another real use case is when Customer Service Support is done by a vendor, making it important for organizations to have quick and real-time access to customer issues. Only integration can support that.
The ConnectALL Integration Platform is a valuable tool in these situations where coordination between teams and applications is critical to success. In the above examples where work is being accomplished, perhaps running two (or more) Jira instances (which is very common) that need to work together, the teams’ performance can be optimized.
So how would such a system be set up, and what limitations would it have? The ConnectALL Integration Platform has two deployment options: on site or cloud. The more important question to answer is this: are all the systems accessible via the network? Quite possibly the manufacturer’s system is not available outside their firewall. In this case, ConnectALL would be installed inside the firewall. Another question: are the external vendor’s systems accessible? They probably are, because they want to communicate and collaborate with their partners, but if not, options are available, namely network tunnels or secure communication agents (such as those available from MuleSoft).
Information security is also important because not all data in the applications will be shared. When configuring the ConnectALL Integration Platform, an administrator will specify the projects that must synchronize the data. Additional steps should also be taken; for example, the synchronization credentials should be restricted to the data about to be communicated. Finally, just like any internal system in deployment, such an integration requires some time for testing and validation, so be sure to include this in your rollout plan.
Your vendor’s view of what the data means and how it is used to drive their processes is probably very different from yours. How do you consolidate these two views into a working process where the teams can work together more effectively? With the ConnectALL Integration Platform, right out of the box the data can be synchronized at will (on demand or timed), mapped one-to-one or one-to-many, and the values can be changed during synchronization (priority might be Blocker on one system and Major on another) so that processes can be aligned.
But what if your requirements are even more severe? For example, you may use the priority and customer impact fields together to schedule work, and your vendor wants a calculation of severity that will combine the two fields and result in a number from 1-100. Can simple value mapping in the ConnectALL Integration Platform enable this? Of course it can’t, but the ConnectALL Integration Platform does have a solution for even this: you can write a script in any language (java, ruby, perl, etc.) and it changes the values as they are sent to the vendor’s system. This simple scripting notion can even be extended to communicate with an external SAP system and verify data, or move the field data to an external data warehouse (as our ConnectALL Insights product does). The sky is the limit on customizations you can develop yourself, without having to change the ConnectALL code line.
Organizations depend on their partners and vendors to quickly and accurately perform the tasks necessary to roll out jointly developed products, and to optimize communication and collaboration in a B2B world. ConnectALL can be a valuable tool to assist with this or with other integration challenges. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or would like to request a demo with one of our integration experts. Our website has complete documentation, videos, and pricing on the ConnectALL product line.
Doug Bass is a certified Atlassian consultant and trainer and a certified ScrumMaster. He is an experienced systems architect with experience in distributed application design, database architecture, network design, and project management. Author of the first relational database for military applications in the UK and the first java-internet based chat application, Doug teaches classes in object-oriented design. He holds a Masters Degree in Information Architecture. He is a consulting partner for Atlassian’s product suite, and architect of several of Go2Group’s products including the CRM Plugin (JIRA and Salesforce integration), JIRA/Perforce plugin, and ConnectALL (a multi-application synchronization solution). Doug contributes his free time to the United States Power Squadron where he teaches classes on safe boating.