Picture a giant network. It has a myriad of dots and just as many connecting lines between them. Now think of B2B integration – you will see that the two are very similar. Each of these dots is one of your trading partners and the line connecting your dot to their dot is the business relationship you share. This is the channel you communicate through, it is the communication itself.
These lines need to be thick and to be drawn in ball pen or something similar – on the contrary, if they are drawn in pencil and not in stark lines, they are bound to get smudged or even erased in time. This way your network becomes feeble even if just one line weakens its starkness. As far as the analogy goes, this is the same with your business relationships – if you don’t tend to them and don’t ensure they are ‘stark’, so to say or built on a strong foundation, your business will have to suffer the consequences.
If you are looking to offer connectivity within your supply chain or to fill in the existent gaps within an enterprise, a B2B integration will not only fulfill this desire, but it will also make your end-users happier by providing them an enhanced user experience.
If your goal is to connect several aspects of an enterprise, the process of adopting a new system will become easier if you have the appropriate software for the translation of data, data security, hosting and collaboration. If you implement such a solution and you also benefit from the expertise of a knowledgeable third party, you can successfully cope with all the obstacles that come your way.
Of course, this is easier said than done. You will actually be faced with serious challenges for which you need to be properly equipped. Drawn from the experience of others, these are the most common challenges that companies deal with:
Be sure to have electronic records
Integration phases usually find themselves lacking the automated process they need to be properly optimized and to yield the best results. Don’t underestimate the importance of automation. If you choose to do everything manually, you will take a lot more time to get the job done, it will waste valuable time and resources – losses that can be avoided. What’s more, human errors tend to happen a lot more often whenever you manually go through the process – this can have catastrophic consequences on your business over time and generate issues that are difficult to correct. If you have all your data centralized in one place, you will later be able to track and manage it according to your needs.
Data must be consistent
Whenever you implement a data integration solution, you can often face yourself against serious data discrepancy. Data can simply not match other data, leaving room for errors to creep in and wreak havoc in your entire organization. Instead, data needs to be monitored, in order to ensure it is accurate and secure. Data monitoring needs to be a constant process – when it is not, inaccurate data can leave the walls of your organization and spread to your business partners, which in turn pass it on, weakening the entire network.
Take baby steps
As with any other huge transformation, you may feel overwhelmed by the amplitude of the process and of what needs to be done. This is why many companies end up jumping in head first, trying to tackle everything at once, instead of compartmentalizing and going at it one step at a time.
At first, it may feel like you’re doing your company a world of good by trying to juggle everything in one go. Sure, it gets you pumped up and gives you the illusion that just because you started doing it, it’s also the wise and efficient thing to do. But this is just a mirage, like any quick fix is. Instead, we recommend dividing and delineating your tasks, as well as outlining a plan that allocates sufficient time and resources to each task.
You may want to start off by having an expert audit your company and assess your B2B needs. If you’d like to find out more on how you can optimize your data integration process, give us a call – we’d be happy to help.