Managing Compliance Risks in B2B Integration Through Service Level Agreements (SLAs), Part 3

This blog post is the third in a series highlighting how to manage compliance risks for service level agreements for B2B integration. Read Part 2 HERE.

How Latency and Visibility Risks can Derail SLA Compliance

Now that we’ve discussed the basics of service level agreement (SLA) compliance, along with how you can increase the quality of your data through automation, it’s time to look at the risks both latency and complacency bring to compliance with your SLAs. As with data accuracy, many of these issues can be solved by selecting the automation solution right for your business.

Many businesses find their SLA commitments in jeopardy in part from large, intermittent delays. The large delays are due to lack of automation or the cumulative effect of many small delays due to errors and inefficient error resolution methods. Latency or delays in transaction processing must be minimized or eliminated altogether in order to guarantee repeatable, consistent and predictable SLA compliance. Likewise, you need quick and efficient visibility into business processes to speed up the error resolution process and prevent costly delays resulting in SLA nonconformity.
Visibility to status and results

The Strain of Manual Processing

When automation of non-EDI document processing is incomplete or absent, manual processes must fill these gaps. Unfortunately, these processes depend on personnel who can be unavailable at times, due to vacations, meetings, sickness, etc. Even with the proper personnel available, manual processes often entail tedious and inefficient data entry and multi-step data acceptances, opening the door for data errors.

As errors occur upstream, the rework loop faces the same manual challenges and difficulties with the original document, compounding latency issues. As downstream processes lag further, a ripple effect of dysfunction can lead to late or missed fulfillment and accompanying chargebacks or negative scorecard ratings.

With all this in mind, you can eliminate the inefficiency of manual processing by automating and managing both EDI and non-EDI data through the same B2B middleware. Combining these capabilities into one platform provides continuous status visibility between trading partners and applications, reducing latency risk even further. In turn, you’ll free up valuable human resources to focus on low-occurrence, high-priority exceptions that require specialized skills to diagnose and fix.

Additionally, automating end-to-end integration facilitates the efficient fulfillment of downstream processes and helps to ensure deliveries occur on-schedule. By managing process latency, SLAs can continue to be met or exceeded by reducing manual errors, focusing resources on exceptions and automating tedious tasks.

Improved Visibility Leads to Greater Efficiency

To better understand, troubleshoot and verify your operational state, you must have visibility into the status of all transactions and results.

When visibility is limited, a chain reaction of inefficient check-ins begins. First, a customer or partner is forced to pick up the phone and place a time-consuming call into your Support Center. Without appropriate visibility into relevant transaction state or information, CSR’s must then place their own calls to internal IT personnel, consuming more time and delaying time-critical responses. This process risks non-compliance by relying on time-consuming activities for accomplishing routine tasks, leading to miscommunication, latency and unpredictable responses.

Process Latency Risks, Remedies and Outcomes

With direct visibility into status and results, information can be provided on-demand or proactively to partners. This allows decision makers to gain control of the situation by combining relevant notifications and critical alerts with instant look-up capabilities. And by distributing status and results visibility to trading partners and customer service personnel, IT can focus on new business, partner onboarding and critical maintenance tasks.

Outside of the organization, the end-users also benefit as they receive current and accurate information when they need it. Through alerts, notifications and look-up portals, CSR’s can provide customers with a superior experience.

To summarize, your organization should actively implement procedures that mitigate process latency through automation and consolidation of EDI and non-EDI data integration. This increases your SLA compliance and also frees up valuable human resources for new business and critical analysis functions. Your business should also notice increased organizational efficiency and a shortened time-to-value. Lastly, convenient and timely visibility into key business functions, status and results reduces the time spent by trading partners and internal teams on resolving errors and answering routine business questions.

Even with improved visibility and less latency, your organization may still be at risk for SLA nonconformity. Our next post should help with that, as we’ll explore how you can manage risks associated with both provisioning and change.

Also, if you’d like a comprehensive review of SLA compliance management right now, you can download our “Service Level Agreements for B2B Integration: Managing Compliance Risks” whitepaper here.

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