This article originally appeared on the BeyeNETWORK.
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When data integration is needed in the business world, it is always good to consider whether it is better to build or to buy a solution. While there are many pros and cons to each side of the answer; one should remember the goal is to reach the least cost of ownership while sustaining the most efficient data integration solution to the problem. Achieving this goal breaks down into good analysis and decision making. This article will look into the details of the subject matter, as well as to carefully analyze the process of deciding between buying or building a data integration solution.
The first and most important part of analysis is assessing whether you need the data integration, and determining the level of data integration you are looking to support. If it’s a simple task of building a small data mart to encapsulate information from a few external sources, then it would not be very expensive to build it or hire help to do it. However, it might be wiser to consider finding a pre-built solution or build upon a solution that you can buy. An example of this might be that you are looking to integrate the entire HR department in Austin, with the payroll department based in Washington, D.C. The details of the particular situation make all the difference. It would also be necessary to determine exactly what is needed, or consult someone to assess the needs for data integration.
Having the staff for data integration is an important part of your build-or-buy analysis as well. Creating a data integration solution is an expensive and complex process. Therefore, a staff with technical knowledge is essential to the building process. If your company has a high turnover rate, or cannot hire people with strong credentials to build a data integration solution, then the best option might be to hire professionals for the building process. At some point in the data integration process, you will need a technical staff to integrate, verify and validate the system.
After learning the level of data integration needed and acquiring the necessary technical staff, you must determine if you can buy a full-featured, off-the-shelf ERP system. Buying a pre-built solution might be an easier way to deal with data integration if it can do something that approximates what you need. Peoplesoft, Business Objects and Cognos are a few of the companies that have developed very robust pre-built data integration solutions that may serve your needs. However, many of these “box” solutions need customization and require a technical staff to modify or build add-on components to the solution to meet the need. Whether you lean toward buying, building or a combination of each, you will still need a staff to support and maintain the data integration solution.
Your decision, based on the analysis of what level of data integration is needed, what technical staff is necessary and what solutions you can buy for data integration, is dependent upon examining each aspect of the analysis. This examination must be done with respect to the cost and time constraints of each choice. It would be beneficial to devise a decision grid. You can add the different combinations of each cost factor and decide if it would be easier to build it with a hired staff, buy something off-the-shelf, modify an off-the-shelf solution, or use a combination of these to meet the demand. If time is the more important factor, you must weigh the decision grid accordingly. Essentially, the decision making is completely dependent on how well you have analyzed the situation and balanced the cost and time factors to meet the demand. The best practice is to gather and analyze the necessary knowledge. After doing this, you should make a decision grid, weighted by time and cost, and then pick your buy-or-build data integration solution.