Choice is everything. From your morning decision of preparing your coffee just the way you want it to what you’re going to eat for dinner, having choices means having freedom. Unfortunately, for various reasons, not every enterprise has that same level of freedom when it comes to executing their critical business integrations.
Whether it’s due to a dependence on outdated legacy technologies, limited in-house know-how, or an inability to modernize for other reasons, many supply chain-oriented companies aren’t putting themselves in a position to succeed. Today’s companies must empower their technical and business team members with the ability to choose how to execute integrations based on different resources, skill level, and business strategy. Doing so positively impacts time-to-market and total cost of ownership (TCO).
In this day and age, companies require a flexible strategy that affords choices on how to either design and deploy B2B integrations on their own or outsource to a managed services team. The name of the game for a successful integration strategy is based on the confidence you and your team have in optimizing delivery of business outcomes within your constraints. Simply put, having choices gives you more confidence.
As I said in our first blog in this educational series, there are six pillars for integration confidence. Let’s take some time and discuss what I mean when I talk about ‘the flexibility of choice.’
Best of Both Worlds
You’ve heard the phrase before: “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.” When it comes to technology and software, we have all been conditioned to think that we have to choose between different consumption models, deployments, or architectures. While many solutions promote “the best of both worlds,” rarely do they live up to the promise.
When it comes to integration, most organizations want the best of both worlds too – the control of designing and deploying the integration themselves yet having the ability to outsource when resources or skills are constrained.
But why must we choose? We should have the ability to have both simultaneously.
In fact, we should demand it.
Managing integrations on your own, in a traditional self-service sense, allows your enterprise to become immediately responsive to business insights while being your own integration specialist. You can fix or modify a map yourself, as well as manage your ecosystem of trading partners.
Instead of putting trust in the hands of a third party, you can create and maintain that level of trust directly – especially for your strategic trading partners or critical relationships. Conversely, integration with the option of “some” managed services provides the ability to offload work to a vendor if and when as needed.
Those companies that already have a proficient integration staff, replete with in-depth EDI knowledge and demonstrable domain expertise at hand, can use the DIY integration model to maintain a strong level of integration competency in-house. These enterprises often have developers who demand a complete and flexible solution that ensures they have the right amount of control in order to not only maximize the productivity of their in-house teams, but continuously improve ecosystem agility across their supply chain.
What About Managed Services?
Alternatively, the 100 percent managed services approach still serves as a viable option too. Those companies that do not have deep EDI or application integration skillset and perhaps have limited domain knowledge will need a trusted partner to run their integrations. This way the company is able to stay focused on core competencies instead of trying to manage technical processes in which they might not necessarily be proficient.
Maybe you’re short on staff and feeling a little stretched thin to manage those B2B interactions. As long as you have a partner you can depend on, you can outsource your integration requirements to experts that can assure you of their security, reliability, and scalability. With a vendor you can trust, you can confidently say ‘yes’ to new trading partner relationships while onboarding them quicker than ever.
The Third Way
The third high-value option, of course, is a blend of self-service and managed service – the “best of both worlds.” The right technology partner attacks integration by allowing you to handle it however way you wish. Encounter an error? Flip a ticket to your vendor and the managed services approach takes care of it for you. Or handle things manually and maintain complete control. The choice is yours either way.
Given the pace of digital disruption, and the acute need for agility in today’s supply chains, having flexibility of choice in how you approach your integration execution can deliver not just better business outcomes, but confidence that you can meet the needs of your business. Leverage both options to determine what works best for you and your enterprise. Empower yourself and your team today.
Coming next, part three in our series, “The Ability to Control Integration.”