As the global economy begins to recover, running lean will be the name of the game. Many companies are now asking how they can make operations-- including already stretched-thin departments such as IT-- more efficient without sacrificing service or product quality.
Read on to learn how managed EDI and integration services can keep data and revenue flowing through your supply chain and free core IT staff to focus on other priorities.
What Are Managed Integration Services?
Before we delve deeper into the advantages of managed integration services, let’s explore what managed services for B2B integration are.
At REMEDI, we define “managed integration services” in this way: your business owns your B2B integration solution, and we operate it for you. How much REMEDI manages is up to our clients; we create a unique plan for each client’s needs. Some rely on us to add new trading partners and take care of mapping and testing capabilities; some clients prefer that REMEDI handle software updates and license management as well as day-to-day support.
Managed Integration Services vs. Outsourcing
Some may read this and wonder, “What’s the difference between this and outsourcing?” There’s one significant difference between managed services for B2B integration and outsourcing; with managed services, the customer still owns the hardware and software.
This distinction is important because when customers own their own hardware and software, they have greater control and risk management. Data belongs to the client, not to the managed services provider and not an outsourcer. Yet, you also have confidence that your integration managed services provider will carry out SLAs and protect your reputation by responding quickly to issues.
How Can Managed Integration Services Help Your Firm?
Managed services for EDI and B2B integration help your firm in two ways:
- By relieving the burden on your IT department
- By making your firm more efficient overall
Relieving the Burden on IT
A common problem with which everyone must contend today is the pressure to do more with less. Your IT department probably feels this most of all.
Your EDI system or B2B integration solution is critical to your business because it allows you to share information quickly and effectively with trading partners. However, that doesn’t mean that your IT department has the requisite skills or time to manage either of those technologies. You can’t afford the prospect of a mission-critical solution not being adequately supported.
EDI systems and B2B integration require specialized knowledge, which not all IT professionals possess. Even if your company is lucky enough to have experts in those fields, they might not have the time to devote to EDI or B2B integration because they’re busy with other IT needs (help desk requests, network monitoring, security, etc.).
That’s where managed services for B2B integration come into the picture. They bolster your existing resources so that your IT staff can focus on other tasks. Think of what your IT team could accomplish if they weren’t spending time on other work. Maybe they’ll create an app that allows your firm to better connect to customers, or perhaps they’ll be able to devote more time to securing your systems and networks.
Making Your Firm More Efficient Overall
There are three ways that managed services for B2B integration make your firm more efficient overall:
- Focusing on your core competencies
- Efficient and effective resource allocation
- Industry-specific knowledge to help you become more successful
Focusing on Your Core Competencies
Your core competency lies in the main focus of your particular business and industry. B2B integration or EDI systems are not your core competencies, nor should they be. Integration managed services allow you to focus on your core competencies because you’re no longer spending time dealing with those technologies. Rather, skilled personnel handles that for you, so you can do what you do best.
“Managed integration services allow you to focus on your core competencies.”
Think about the things you could do if you weren’t devoting time to tasks outside of your core competencies. You would be able to research new market opportunities or invest in a digital App or product launches. There might finally be time and money to invest in that new product. It might be something smaller; you can do something like figuring out how to improve your customer service or spend time learning about what customers want out of their relationship with you.
Efficient and Effective Resource Allocation
This point is tied into the paragraph above; when you focus on your core competencies, you’re able to efficiently and effectively allocate resources. Because you don’t need to hire staff members that are EDI or B2B integration experts, you can distribute those resources elsewhere in the company.
Your IT department can consult with the managed services provider to have them create a personalized plan to meet your needs and stay within the budget. HR doesn’t have to put in any time or effort into trying to fill a position. Instead, they could put those resources into employee training, or another initiative that would make the company more successful. The IT department wouldn’t have to be involved in the hiring process. By choosing integrated managed services, everyone gets what they need, the first time.
Choosing the right integration managed services provider can actually give you a competitive edge. The right provider has a deep well of industry-specific knowledge, expertise, and experience from which to draw, all of which can help you in the long run.
Take the manufacturing industry, for example. Over the past half-century, the manufacturing industry has undergone enormous upheaval. Trading partners aren’t located in the same city or even state anymore – now, you could be located in Idaho, while your supplier is in Thailand. Your customers aren’t local, either; they could be across the globe.
Moreover, a wave of technological advancements has utterly transformed the manufacturing industry. “Smart” equipment that works autonomously can provide enormous amounts of data… if you have the right infrastructure in place. Integration managed services providers with deep experience in the manufacturing industry can help firms make the most out of connecting these new technologies while maintaining a competitive edge.
The food and beverage industry offers another example. These are two highly-regulated industries. If you’re a food and beverage producer, you need to work with someone who’s not only familiar with existing regulations but is paying attention to what’s coming down the pipeline and can guide you through the right choices.
Expertise in this field also involves following consumer trends. Today’s consumers want to know where their food and beverages come from; as a result, traceability has become a growing concern. The right managed services provider can advise you on the steps you should take to increase visibility into your supply chain so that you can satisfy regulatory requirements as well as meet the needs of consumers.
If you’re looking to get the most out of your limited resources (and get home at a reasonable time), integration managed services makes sense. Managed services for B2B integration benefit your IT department (which is likely stretched to its breaking point), while making your firm more efficient overall. Additionally, the right managed services provider offers valuable industry-specific knowledge.