It is all well and good to talk about B2B integration maturity, but how does a company achieve it? What actionable steps can you take now that will increase this characteristic?
The path to greater B2B integration maturity does not have to remain shrouded in mystery. There are five steps to improving your maturity level: assess your people, processes, and technology; put a plan in place; and turn to outside experts for assistance if needed.
The People Puzzle
You might think that the most important aspect of B2B integration maturity is the type of technology you are using. While technology is crucial (which is discussed further on in this post), it is only one part of B2B integration maturity.
There is another component to B2B integration maturity, and it is not technical. You need to examine your organization’s mindset towards B2B integration and how prepared you are to proceed further on this path.
You need to examine your organization’s mindset towards B2B integration.
Are the people at your company stuck in a mindset that encourages the existence of data silos, or is data widely accessible (even to supply chain partners)? Do employees only care about getting the job done, or are they concerned with preventing errors and achieving high levels of performance? These are the details that set businesses that are mature apart from those that are not.
Are Your Processes Problematic?
The next step is to look at your business processes. For a start, how many of them are manual and how many of them are automated? The more manual processes you have, the more work you need to do to achieve B2B integration maturity.
Second, how many of your processes are redundant? Is more than one person doing the same work more than once? What can be automated and digitized so that your company runs more efficiently?
Do You Have Trouble with Technology?
One of the three pillars of B2B integration maturity is technology. In order to move further along the spectrum, you have to determine what kinds of technology you are using now and whether these solutions enable you to freely transmit information inside and outside of your firm.
If you are still sending faxes or calling people to complete transactions, you are at the least mature end of the spectrum. An online portal in which employees or supply chain partners have to manually enter information is a step up, but the companies with highest levels of maturity have completely digital transactions.
Put a Plan in Place
There are some business leaders who will read the steps above and think, “Okay, if we just implement some more sophisticated technology, we will achieve a higher level of B2B integration maturity.” That approach tends not to be successful.
Instead, treat your path to greater B2B integration maturity as though you were solving a business problem. By creating a plan and executing it, you will have a much higher likelihood of obtaining the results you want.
Treat your path to greater B2B integration maturity as though you are solving a business problem.
The three components of B2B integration maturity – people, processes, technology – can all be addressed through a plan. Your plan must include a change management strategy to shift the corporate mindset toward one that embraces B2B integration. It also needs to cover which processes are going to be automated and how you are going to handle that process. Ultimately, automating as many processes as possible is ideal, though it is better to start with a few crucial ones and work from there.
Your plan should also detail what kinds of technology solutions you are going to need and how you are going to implement them. Implementing new technology requires a change management plan, too, as well as a strategy for integrating data and educating employees on how to use it.
You Do Not Have to Go It Alone
During the planning process, you need to ask yourself if your employees have the technical skills and knowledge to carry out a B2B integration project. The answer might be “no,” and that is not necessarily a bad thing; what it means is that your personnel are more focused on your firm’s core business. For many companies, B2B integration projects are not their core business.
That is why many businesses choose to partner with a firm that specializes in B2B integration. This partnership enables these companies to concentrate on what they do best while experts deploy technology that is the right fit for their needs.
You need to ask yourself if your employees have the technical skills and the knowledge to carry out a B2B integration project.
The right B2B integration partner takes time to understand your needs and work with you to ensure you get the best result. If you want to take steps towards B2B integration maturity with such a partner, contact us.