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You Don’t Need A World-Class Team To Have A World-Class Competency Center

If your goal is to implement a world class Integration Competency Center (ICC) or COE, the best people you could find to make up the team already work for you. If you don’t currently have technical superstars on your team, you can still have a leading-edge world-class ICC that will “wow” your internal customers every time. You don’t need a world-class team to have a world-class competency center……you need a world-class management system.

In fact it is much harder building a top notch ICC with a bunch of hot shot developers/analysts. Often the hotshot knows what do to, but is unable to train others or to take time away from the constant fire-fighting to sit down and lay out on paper, in detail, exactly how the work should be done so that a junior staff person could do it perfectly.

If you have a bunch of hotshots – sometimes you have chaos. Strong technical leads are at times unable to create a cohesive, consistent, unified integration infrastructure. They are too busy dealing with the latest issue of the day which requires all their unique skills and knowledge.  And if even just one of the hot shots leaves (or is away sick, etc,) you are in deep trouble since no-one else can do what (s)he does.

The alternative to chaos is order – and the way order is achieved is by implementing a management system. The system becomes the solution to the problems that the ICC is addressing. The system will transform your people problems into a business opportunity by orchestrating the process by which management decisions are made while eliminating the need for decisions whenever possible.

Organizations that have implemented ICCs have seen orders of magnitude in improvement in throughput and productivity. Order does NOT mean that people are mechanically following repetitive tasks on an assemble. But it does provide a clear operations manual for all relevant tasks. It also doesn’t’ mean that there is no innovation. In fact, in order to innovate in an IT process that involves multiple teams, the FIRST step is to standardize the project. The second step is to measure all the activities in the process and periodically review them to identify improvement opportunities. In the ICC system, everyone is engaged in driving continuous improvements.

So where can you get a world-class management system that will turn your typical team into winners?  I recommend the ICC practices from Informatica. We wrote the book on ICCs, in fact several of them[1][2].  So if you read the books, apply their lessons and guidance in a disciplined manner (and it doesn’t hurt to also use the Velocity tools and best practices,) voila – you have a world class ICC team – guaranteed!

One word of caution – you need to adopt the ENTIRE management system. You can certainly set priorities and sequence the implementation work, and you can customize the best practices to fit your organizational practices and standards, but what you can’t do is pick and choose activities that make up the system. For example, if you focus on implementing the technology recommendations but don’t address the policy and process activities, the system will break down and you won’t get the results.

Of course to make it easier to adopt the ICC system, you could get some help. This is what we do at Informatica Professional Services – we help organizations implement sustainable integration solutions in order to maximize the business potential in their information assets. You don’t need to live with chaos any longer.


[1] John G. Schmidt and David Lyle, Lean Integration, An Integration Factory Approach to Business Agility, 2010, Addison-Wesley

[2] John Schmidt and David Lyle, Integration Competency Center, An Implementation Methodology, Informatica, 2005

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