A best-practice integration design workflow

A best practice integration design workflow follows two basic rules:

1) Work big to small.

Working big to small means understanding the logical layers of what you are building, starting from the overall theme or mission for the integration (big and ambiguous) all the way down to "this specific field in the destination system goes to this specific field in the target system".There is a hierarchy to how these layers relate. You'll see what that looks like shortly.

2) Don't eat the elephant in one bite.

Taking small bites means not trying to all at once tackle the interconnected complexity of the entire project. You must go about manageable tasks in an organized fashion. You must go about them in the right order.


Designing the integration big to small, means defining each layer of the integration from the overall business case down to the individual field mapping. Ideally you work top-down/big-small as much as possible.

There will inevitably be rework in the opposite direction as year discover the unknown unknowns of the project. The goal, however, is to only move on to the next layer down when you have a complete understanding of the current layer (i.e. don't define data flows for a currently undefined use case).

The layers, top-down, are as follows:

  • Business Case
  • Use Case(s) describing the business case
  • Data Flow(s) that implement each use case
  • Triggers, Outcomes, and Field Mappings that fully describe each data flow