Tag Archives: B2B Integration

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

SLA compliance risk and why you should care

Service level agreements (SLAs) are a staple of customer and service provider transactions. You may view them as a necessity, but not necessarily as a permanent tool in your utility belt. Others may understand the basic premise of SLAs, but have no idea how to manage the compliance risks along with them. This post is the first in a series on this very topic, and will walk you through the factors to consider on how to better manage such risk.

SLAs establish objective criteria for assessing the performance of business-to-business (B2B) processes and operations, such as order receipt, warehouse transfers, and claims processing. On the buy side of a business, service levels measure the performance of vendors who provide goods and services. Conversely, on the sell side, they measure how well a business complies with SLAs established by its customers.

Several aspects of performance are measured with SLAs, including:

  • The accuracy and completeness of data exchanged between businesses
  • The timeliness, responsiveness, and visibility of processes that manage data exchange
  • How long it takes to provision new trading partners, transactions, and changes
  • How available and dependable B2B infrastructure services are

Continue reading

The Dollar Value of Integration – Part 2: Revenue Growth

You probably have seen Revenue Growth illustrated on a graph, with time moving to the right, and a line that rises up and to the right as revenue is earned.

In the previous blog post, we addressed how onboarding a company faster decreases the amount of time from the point of a contract being signed, to the point your company begins to recognize revenue.

Now that you can onboard new business more quickly using an integration platform, what does that really do for your company long-term?

Imagine being able to onboard all the business that your sales team could sign without fear of disappointing the customer. Wouldn’t that be an enviable position to be in? Being able to onboard new business faster means that your company can grow more quickly than in the past.

But there are other areas within your company that integration can accelerate Revenue Growth. We have talked about processing new business through rapid onboarding, but let’s think outside the box.

How can we make our trading partnerships stronger with our suppliers and customers? What if we could offer more transparency to our trading partners about the status of their orders and shipments? That is probably valuable to them, especially if we can offer those services in a way that they can easily access and consume the data.

By allowing our trading partners better access to our systems, we become an extension of their business systems. If we do this properly and offer value to them, we build even stronger business relationships, which should translate into more business volume – Which means Revenue Growth.

Watch the Integration Power$ Business 3-part mini-series at: www.extol.com/bethehero

The End of Mapping is Here… Almost

A recent blog post by Steve Keifer, titled “The End of Mapping (in B2B Integration)”, asks why B2B translators can’t automatically identify and map source-to-target fields. Well, the answer is they can – at least EXTOL’s translators can. Our customers have been saving countless hours on mapping activities using EXTOL’s design-time automation technology for more than a decade!

With the Advanced Automapper feature in our EXTOL EDI Integrator for IBM i (EEI), our customers simply select a reference map, and the Advanced AutoMapper will compare it with other maps using the same files, generating a new map with the appropriate data fields. It is a very effective tool for the majority of customers, who have multiple trading partners, but trade the same or similar documents. Each new trading partner can be on-boarded much more quickly, eliminating most of the manual and repetitive mapping tasks. Continue reading

Don’t just get by. Get Smart.

Linking systems through a single integration platform gets your business moving faster

Over the past few years, there have been many changes in the landscape of enterprise integration.  In the mid to late 90s, there were multiple tools to handle the different integration requirements for data, business to business (B2B) and application to application (A2A).  This meant if your company had to meet all of these integration requirements, you had to either code your own solutions or purchase and support multiple products to solve that one problem, Integration.

Your first integration requirement may have been B2B.  Why?  Mainly because your largest trading partner told you to do it.  They were changing the way they do business and requested that you stop calling in and faxing your orders to them and instead, start sending them electronically.  Most often they would specify the data format, which could be EDI or flat file and later XML.  This single request, with possibly an unrealistic deadline, lead to a quick fix to accommodate this partner.   It wasn’t planned; but it had to happen.  Current projects had to be put on hold and re-prioritized in order to fulfill this request.  Once implemented, the fire is out and you could go back to business.  But, as time goes on, more and more of your trading partners are requesting to do business this way.   This tactical solution soon became an integral part of your normal business activities. Continue reading

Self-service Integration Visibility

When choosing an integration software solution, do your requirements include the ability to make integration results or the outcome of the transactions, available to the customer services team, accounts receivable or the management staff?  And when your requirements include business-to-business integration, do you also need to share results with your trading partners?  Many times the answer to these questions is no, for a number of reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Prior experiences where this functionality was available, but as a costly customization
  • No need to expose this information to others
  • Not aware this functionality can be a requirement of integration middleware Continue reading