Here’s a word which means so many different things to so many people, ‘Integration’.

For integration means linking systems and data together, creating master data sources, or moving data automatically and electronically.

When I joined CELCAT some seven years back, someone said to me “our customers hardly ever ask about integration”; true, but that was simply because we didn’t talk about it. Seven years on and it’s something I spend most of my time talking about with customers.

To timetable you must have some raw data - room information, student records, HR records for staff, etc. That data needs to get into CELCAT. You can key it in, use CSV imports, or various other methods. But what happens when a staff member gets married and changes their name; how does CELCAT get updated? And what happens to all that timetable data you have created; can that be of use elsewhere?

This is the guts of integration: how do you manage data changing across systems? Who updates the HR system? What effect do those changes have on other systems? How will they get any updates they need?

Following a staff name change, we can define our master data source for the staff name to be the HR system, so it can only be changed there. Any other system must retrieve it from there. If someone changes the name in another system, that change won’t be effective across your system.

The master data source for some of the records on your system will be obvious; others less so, such as rooms. So I cannot stress enough the importance of understanding and documenting your master data sources for each piece of data you hold.