Shared service through an ICC can result in collective success

Embracing education and continuous improvement shows ongoing commitment to data quality and better alignment with your organization’s common goals.


Be crystal clear what each role is meant to contribute to an effort. This way, not everyone is trying to be the modeler, architect, and integrator at the same time.

If you are looking to build an agile data integration environment, look no farther than an Integration Competency Center (ICC). An ICC is a shared service function that links people, processes, and technology across an organization. This makes the deployment of data integration projects faster and more cost effective.

A leading healthcare company recently implemented an ICC with the hopes of increasing organizational efficiency by delivering trusted, timely information whenever and wherever it’s needed. The company’s director of data governance, a self-described “former IT guy,” believes there is one sure way to make data integration a priority—task the business with it. He shares other beliefs as well:

What best practices have you learned for increasing agility with shared services?

Be crystal clear what each role is meant to contribute to an effort. This way, not everyone is trying to be the modeler, architect, and integrator at the same time. Also, make sure that the business is accountable for making decisions, such as how they want to interact with the data and how they want to have it presented to them. This will inform the decisions the data architects need to make at the design layer.

What kind of conflicts have you run into moving toward an ICC?

Initially, a lot had to do with understanding what the approach was meant to provide. Once you establish the ICC goals and organizational model, you have to manage the intake, prioritization, and delivery of the work. And you have to do it efficiently without introducing bureaucracy, which is one of the fears people have of a shared-service approach.

If the ICC is the hub, the spokes have different perspectives of your output. One spoke is IT, which is responsible for costs and making sure needs are met. If you are not communicating with the IT infrastructure team, then they’ll have to react late in the process, which could impact quality or delay the entire project.

That also holds true when involving subject matter experts for business decisions. If assumptions are built into a logical or business data model that hasn’t been validated with stakeholders, the project could require major revisions.

People want to do a good job, but you have to create understanding early on about who needs to be responsible, consulted, and informed for each critical activity. This will prevent a tremendous amount of conflict.

Coordination among different groups can slow things down. Do you have any advice for how to speed things up?

For each process you should keep the scope of work small enough that it’s achievable in a short time. This way, whatever difficulties you do experience are not catastrophic. The idea is that as you’re learning to succeed, you have to expect some failures. Sometimes, some organizations and cultures can be too failure adverse. They don’t build enough opportunities to fail into their maturation model so that they can learn how to do things right.

Learn more about shared services and building an ICC in Lean Integration, a book by John Schmidt, vice president, Global Integration Services, and David Lyle, vice president, Product Strategy, at Informatica.

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