Tech Tuesday: How to Overcome System Integration Challenges

Integrating your software system with another company’s software is hard. No matter how much documentation there is, or how many times you have done something similar with a different external system, there are always issues that come up.

One aspect that makes integrations difficult is that you don’t have control over the external system. When developing software internally, your team, is responsible for every aspect of the software and can be made available for questions and troubleshooting. Oftentimes, this is not the case when working with a separate company. Multi-team discussions have to be scheduled. Troubleshooting is done via email, more often than not, by sending snippets of code and sample requests back and forth. Even the best documentation can leave room for a few unexpected edge cases that will need to be ironed out.

A few tips to help your next system integration:

1. Verify connectivity first – If you can’t even connect to a system, you’ll never be able to send a successful request to it.

2.  Review as much of the external system as you can first, and make sure you understand how things like authentication, sessions, and order of execution works, before you start your own design.

3. Log everything (or as much as you can get away with) – When bugs start to arise, the easiest way to troubleshoot an issue is to see exactly what is being sent between two systems.

4. Be patient – Just because you have a team of rockstar developers, that doesn’t mean every other company does too.

Overcoming the challenges associated with integrating an external system can be time consuming and stressful. By ensuring that your system is stable and that you have the proper tools in place to troubleshoot issues with external systems, you will have minimized the most obvious pain points, and are on track to complete a successful integration.