What comes to mind when you think about B2B integration strategies? For many companies, it is most likely budget. That is an important consideration, but it is not the only one.
One thing you should be thinking about with B2B integration is your staff. Your employees can affect what kind of B2B integration strategy you wind up implementing; their skills, the size of your workforce, and your hiring budget all play a role in which approach you take.
What Kinds of B2B Integration Approaches Are Out There?
There are four types of B2B integration approaches available: on-premises, hosted, cloud, and hybrid.
An on-premises approach involves installing integration software on an onsite server, while a hosted approach means you install the integration software on an off-site server. Cloud B2B integration software is delivered over the Internet. A hybrid B2B integration approach combines two or more of the above options.
How Do Your Staffing Needs Affect Your B2B Integration Approach?
There are a number of issues surrounding your staffing needs that affect your approach. We have identified several of them, which we will list here:
- Industry/business complexity: Does your industry or business have special integration needs that require highly technical knowledge? Do your employees possess this knowledge? If considerations like special security requirements apply to your company, an on-premises deployment might be the best option.
- • Trading partner requirement complexity: Do your trading partners' complex requirements require specialized knowledge? Is this knowledge that your employees possess? Cloud and hosted B2B integration solutions are the least customizable, meaning they are less suitable for trading partners with more sophisticated demands.
- Workflow and collaboration: While your employees understand your workflow and your collaboration needs, do they know the best way to support them for a successful deployment? An on-premises solution is the most customizable of the four B2B integration approaches, making it more appropriate for organizations with more complex workflows and collaboration needs.
- Hardware and software: Can your employees maintain the hardware and software on their own? Do they have the skills and knowledge to undertake this task, or will they need significant assistance? When you choose an on-premises deployment, your employees maintain the hardware and software, whereas they are not if you choose a hosted or cloud B2B integration solution.
- The number of LoB and IT employees: Do you have enough of them? An on-premises deployment is personnel-heavy (your staff carries out the implementation and must devote significant time and energy to it), while a cloud or hosted B2B integration shifts that burden to the services provider.
- Maintenance and patching: Can your employees do this on their own, or do they need assistance? In an on-premises deployment, your staff will do this. Do they have the time and skills to handle this? Hosted and cloud B2B integration deployments shift these tasks to the service provider.
- Enhancement and upgrade processes: Hosted and cloud B2B integration providers take care of enhancements and upgrades, meaning you do not have to worry about them. Your employees are responsible for enhancements and upgrades when you have an on-premises deployment. Remember that upgrades can be very time-consuming, so if you do not want your employees devoting time to this, an on-premises deployment might not be the best option.
- Compliance and solution certifications: In highly regulated industries, B2B integration solutions must meet compliance standards and they must be certified that they are secure. Cloud and hosted B2B integration providers show their clients proof they have obtained these certifications and comply with regulations. In an on-premises solution, your employees can obtain certifications and ensure they comply with all regulations. That is an investment of time, effort, and money.
Choosing the right B2B integration method for your firm is not just about the budget or the latest technological developments. Your staff plays a significant role in your decision, a role which should not be overlooked or ignored completely. You must know if your employees can handle the increased workload from an on-premises deployment (which includes a greater maintenance and security burden), or if you are better served with a less onerous method such as hosted or cloud B2B integration. To learn more about the options right for you, contact us today!