Checklist: Preparing for a data integration project

Overcome inertia with this easy-to-follow worksheet that breaks down a seemingly overwhelming project into manageable steps.


“If you do not take inventory before you start the project, you may need to remedy problems later on when you risk missed deadlines, budget overages, and disheartened stakeholders.”

Data integration projects can be difficult to define and manage. Complexity can contribute to inertia. Complicating the issue is the fact that many organizations are unaware of the extent of their problem. Developers are in a unique position to help solve the problem by breaking down the preparation into easy-to-understand steps.

Use this process to identify existing problems and anticipate integration challenges. If you do not take inventory before you start the project, you may need to remedy problems later on when you risk missed deadlines, budget overages, and disheartened stakeholders.

Follow this checklist to prepare your organization for a data integration project.

Identify key stakeholders

  • Which business units need to be involved in the project? 
  • Who are the executive sponsors with oversight?
  • Which key players within those business units will be involved in the day-to-day management of the project?
  • Who will fill formal roles in the project?

Identify key systems being used by stakeholders

  • What manual processes are currently being used, such as reconciling data in an Excel spreadsheet?
  • Can manual processes scale?
  • Do SaaS or cloud-based data stores exist?
  • Do obscure legacy systems still contribute data?
  • Is there a need for real-time access to data?

Identify the data and how it is being used

  • Is it unstructured or structured?
  • Is it machine-generated or sentiment data?
  • Do you know the source of the data?
  • Do you have to repeatedly cleanse spreadsheets and send them to partners, managers, co-workers, and customers?
  • What are you getting from the data?
  • What aren’t you getting from the data that you need?
  • What priorities do you share with other stakeholders?

Identify better ways to integrate your data

  • Will an objective third-party consultant help avoid conflict and provide insight?
  • What data needs to be integrated on a regular basis?
  • Which additional integration projects might provide value to the business?
  • Can you avoid one-off integrations by identifying similar projects in your organization that could benefit from this same approach?
  • What trends are you finding that you should highlight for future projects?

Identify data integration tools that fit into their budget

  • What is your budget for initial integration efforts?
  • What is your budget for maintaining data quality?
  • Do you have in-house expertise to develop solutions?
  • Are you defining a data management system that will stand the test of time or will this be a one-off?
  • Is there a need to adopt a new technology, such as Hadoop?

You will need to adapt this checklist to your organization’s priorities and culture. Because both the volume of data and its business value is growing across organizations, the scope of projects will only grow in size. If you anticipate an increase in data volume and complexity, determine whether you need to rethink this process and rescope the project. You cannot change expectations without changing requirements. 


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