Ensure that you have access to business process information relating to both automated and manual systems and access to the right skills. Consider hiring skilled people on contract or through service providers.
Adopt a layered approach
Begin at the top level and map the processes that drive the business (e.g. sales to invoicing, raw materials to finished goods, replenishment from suppliers and purchase payments.) Move down layer by layer. Most systems have two or three layers.
Model the Input-Process-Output-Storage
Every process has an input – where is that from? Where does the output from the process get used? What storage (files/databases/forms) is there and where is that stored data kept?
Link I-P-O-S models together
Show the flow of processes throughout the business and its associated external chains. Identify computer and manual systems and if they are currently fit for purpose.
Begin compiling a Data Dictionary
A spreadsheet is a good tool for this. Include a common name for the data item and a column for each system where it is used including the format in each case.
Validate your conclusions and improve your models and Data Dictionary by discussions with key people inside and outside the business.
Design ideal systems solutions
Link all the processes together and look at ideal solutions to meet the business needs. Are all processes still relevant? Are all steps within processes still needed?
Produce an operational Data Dictionary
Determine the most effective format and definition of common pieces of data so that they work in multiple systems. Where different formats cannot be avoided, document how data will transition from one process to another.
Create a practical phased schedule
We don’t live in an ideal world and solutions will need to be implemented in logical stages to meet time requirements and budget constraints. An agile model will implement little and often.
Consider introduction and training
Make sure that new systems, as they come on stream, do what they were designed to do and that they can be operated by existing team members.
For further reading see our Guide to Integrating Systems