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Systems Integration is tough work. Often someone else’s design must be implemented by a systems integrator to the complete satisfaction of the owner. If this isn’t difficult enough on its own, the systems integrator is usually not only under a schedule crunch they did not create, but also becomes “critical path” at some point in the project. Still, systems integration is rewarding work, and tens of thousands of professionals are engaged in this field. All systems integrators strive for perfection. Some actually achieve it on a project-specific basis, but every new project brings new challenges to overcome. The success of the project may depend more on how the systems integrator overcomes those challenges than on the technical abilities of the integrator’s project team. Every project produces a list of “lessons learned”; the challenge after the project is complete is to learn from those lessons as to not repeat the same mistakes. Each of the authors has been engaged in systems integration for over 20 years. The authors have experiences from being on “both sides of the fence”, as one has previously owned his own systems integration firm. Based on these experiences, and from interviews and surveys conducted with dozens of systems integrators and end users, a useful list of these lessons has been compiled. By sharing these lessons with the industry, the hope of the authors is that systems integrators, end users, and managers alike would not only gain respect for the role of systems integration in industrial project.
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