Three musts in selecting an integrator by ProQuest


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									SyStem integration

 Three musts in selecting an integrator
 By Bryan Singer
 The term “integrator” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.                                                they are cheaper. Never
 It can be a team from a vendor sent to deliver a solution, a large- or                                            make this decision with-
 small-scale official integration business, or an independent consul-                                               out an honest assessment
 tant. But one thing is for sure; manufacturers must base their selec-                                             of their technical capabili-
 tion criteria on their needs. Here is a list of three musts to consider                                           ties to ensure support they
 when selecting an integrator for your next project:                       provide will get the plant up and running quickly again.
     technical expertise: Is this the integrator’s first shot on this          Bottom line, selecting an integrator must take into consid-
 system? Be wary of software and hardware developers mas-                  eration your tolerance for downtime, costs controls, need for
 querading as integrators; product specialists should develop              support, and the complexity of your solution. Evaluate these
 product and support deployment, and experienced integrators               against the list of potential integrators. There are cases for and
 should know the plant environment and challenges of deploy-               against each type of integrator for a given situation. Know the
 ing a system; they are very different disciplines. Developers of-         requirements of the situation first.
 ten are used to reloading, deleting, reconfiguring, and starting/             I had firsthand experience with this as a vendor where we had
 stopping their solutions whenever they want during develop-               local integrators who were much cheaper than our resources, but
 ment. This same approach works great in development, but can              less qualified. These resulted in extended startups, lots of miscon-
 be disastrous during deployment.                                          figurations and errors, and overrun costs in the long run. There
     Qualifications: Are the personnel highly trained and expe-             were also situations where the integrators were actually far better
 rienced, or are they junior technicians? Depending on system              than our resources for a given product or system, or we only had
 complexity and cost controls, either may be a good choice, but            product specialists to assist in deployment, and the local integrators
 with the lower priced options.                                            were more experienced and capable at deploying these systems.
     Support: If it is a vendor integrator or large integration firm,
 do they have local offices? How quickly can they respond to a              ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 site issue? If they are local integrators, do they have the techni-       Bryan Singer ( is principal consultant at
 cal expertise to solve difficult problems? Some manufacturers              Kenexis Consulting Corporation in Pelham, Ala. He is co-chair
 make cost decisions to use local help or small firms because               of ISA99.

change-management. Learning things                Say employ X trains employ Y how to do            diation, and negotiation skills, as well as
like how this solution will impact the            that job. Two or three people did the orig-       policies and procedures that help people
people who have to use it. What kind of           inal training; X is just teaching Y what he       know what they should or should not say
training will they need? Or will they have        thinks is right. But Y is doing something         and do in the face of an angry customer.
the time and capacity now to learn it? Or         wro
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