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DistribuTECH 2023

GeoNexus

Healthy Habits: How to Maintain an Integration Correctly

Introduction 

One of the most tedious parts of working with GIS or asset management data is searching for the roots of bad data. This process is all too familiar to GIS managers, asset managers, and others who frequently work with systems like ArcGIS and IBM Maximo, many of whom spend several hours per week combing through data looking for inconsistencies that may be causing errors. Today, many organizations are turning to system integration solutions to automate much of the error diagnosis process. 

But after setting up an integration, the process isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There’s still work to be done to ensure the integration keeps running smoothly – and to fix errors when they show up. This blog will cover what day-to-day integration maintenance should look like at a macro level, as well as how your organization can utilize the Geonexus Integration Platform (GIP)’s comprehensive reporting feature to simplify everyday integration upkeep. 

Avoiding the Black Hole Approach 

Maintaining a poorly-designed integration can be like flying a plane. Let us explain. 

In aviation, the Black Hole Approach can happen on dark nights when nothing but blackness is visible between the aircraft and the runway it intends to land on. If the runway is not properly lit, this phenomenon causes pilots to become disoriented and land short of the runway, crashing the plane. In principle, this is exactly what navigating an integration solution without proper reporting is like. The lack of a comprehensive reporting feature means anyone working with integrated data is flying blind, trying to find errors without any sense of direction and eventually landing in the wrong place. 

GIP avoids the Black Hole Approach by producing detailed reports of every add, delete, edit, and change to your integrated data every time the synchronization runs. This means every time you synchronize your integrated data, you’ll receive a report showing a complete record of every change that was made and errors that need to be corrected. This feature alone is capable of shaving hours of tedious manual work from your work week and ensures that human mistakes aren’t responsible for incorrect changes to data that needs to be as accurate as possible. 

Utilizing GIP’s reports is paramount to getting the most value out of your system integration. The time savings will give integration leads more time to make sure other systems are working correctly, apply updates, and complete other important tasks without being overburdened. Rushing to make changes to an integration or fix errors without proper planning can sometimes lead to bad data, so it’s important that whoever owns those tasks is doing so with enough time to double check their work. GIP provides the tools to do exactly that. 

Fix Errors, Then Prepare for More 

With any major error in your data, there’s always going to be a sense of urgency to fix the problem as soon as possible, but don’t rush too fast! Most of the time, the correct move is to implement fixes with haste – but taking your time and finding the root of the problem is just as important as making that quick fix. If you encounter frequent errors with your integrated data, here’s what you should be investigating after making the necessary fixes: 

  • Which system are the errors coming from? 
  • What’s the reason for repeated errors of the same type? 
  • How can these errors be prevented in the future? 

There’s always going to be a need for reactive maintenance for truly unexpected problems, but many of the most common issues with system integration can be fixed with disciplined preventive maintenance. Luckily, GIP’s comprehensive reporting makes preventive maintenance much easier by letting you know exactly where errors are located, as well as which system they’re coming from. If your organization stays committed to isolating the roots of your most common errors and fixing them from the ground up, you’ll end up saving a ton of time in the long run while avoiding a poor integration. 

Who Should Own the Integration? 

We’ve seen all kinds of integration implementations over the years, and there are many potential setups that will work depending on the organization and their workflow. Conversely, there’s also plenty that don’t work well. If your organization is putting in all the effort to implement a system integration, you want to be sure you’re in the former group. Otherwise, you’ll just end up right back where you started: with messy data and errors that can only be solved with hours of manual effort. 

Generally, the “less is more” approach works best for managing an integration. With too many hands in the pot, there’s an increased risk for the following problems: 

  • Incorrect changes being made in attempt to fix other errors 
  • Overriding or undoing changes made by other employees 
  • Decreased efficiency when fixing critical errors due to unclear responsibilities 
  • Bad data (and its associated costs) piling up 

We recommend that one person be given lead responsibility when it comes to owning the health of your integration. With one person leading the way, it’s also easier to reach out for help. For example, if an integration lead notices an issue with data from ArcGIS after checking a report, they can easily reach out to a member of the GIS team to get it figured out. Or, if there’s a greater issue that needs more immediate attention, the integration lead can quickly hop on a call with someone from our support staff, find a solution, and make the change right away. In the name of efficiency, less steps to solving a problem means the solution can be implemented as fast as possible. 

Conclusion 

System integration can streamline your organization’s GIS, CIS, or EAM-related workflows, but if you’re not careful, the upkeep of that integration can take up more time than it needs to. By following the best practices outlined above, you can use the Geonexus Integration Platform to make sure your data is being accurately synchronized while producing minimal errors.  

To see how your organization can easily manage integrated systems with the Geonexus Integration Platform, reach out or schedule a demo with us today! 

About Geonexus 

At Geonexus our mission is to ensure integrity and reliability of enterprise data to support effective decision making. Our Integration Platform is an enterprise-grade integration solution that is easy to use, reliable, and includes out-of-the-box connectors for Esri® ArcGIS®, IBM® Maximo, SAP®, ABB® Ellipse, Oracle® Utilities, and other leading enterprise systems. Asset-intensive organizations across the globe use the Geonexus Integration Platform in industries including utilities, telecommunications, pipeline, transportation, and government. 

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