How to Break Free of Business Network Limitations

By: Jim Luneke | August 3rd, 2023

Business network solution users may be experiencing several pain points and shortcomings regarding EDI, data exchange, SLAs, partner onboarding, and self-service–and they may not even know it’s happening. These challenges can hinder operational efficiency, lead to delays, and create potential supply chain issues and risks. In this blog post, we will examine why these issues happen and how companies can combat them.

“Change almost never fails because it’s too early. It almost always fails because it’s too late.” – Seth Godin

If you think all network solutions are created equal, think again. As the lifeblood of most businesses, the smallest variation in solutions can have the largest impact on your bottom line and revenue. Improvements in supply chain visibility, self-service enablement, and trading partner onboarding can dramatically reduce operational costs, optimize operations, and improve customer relationships.

According to Gartner, improving productivity is the main reason business leaders purchase new business solutions (37%), while outgrowing their current technology comes in at a close second (32%).

Let’s examine some of the most common issues business network solution users are having, why they occur, and what you can do to solve them.


Problems exchanging data with trading partners

You rely on exchanging data and transacting business with your trading partners, but there may be some pain points lurking within your current solution that can damage those relationships and create unhappy customers. For example, is integration complexity slowing down how quickly you can send and receive data? Not every trading partner has the same data format, protocols, and requirements. If you’re experiencing delays, examine how seamlessly your network solution can convert data between those formats and if it’s leaving something to be desired. For example, emerging requirements utilizing APIs to transact business documents with trading partners drive the need for data conversion between EDI and JSON.

On top of that, if your solution doesn’t provide real-time visibility, you could be experiencing further delays which can disrupt inventory tracking, resulting in stock outs or overstocking. And if you’re relying on multiple tools or platforms that are disparate, that can lead to a lack of control over your data exchange processes.


Missing or late service-level agreements (SLAs)

When SLAs are not met it can result in some very serious challenges for both you and your partners. If you’re experiencing operational disruptions, dissatisfied customers, or non-compliance fees and penalties, you may want to re-evaluate your current provider. To avoid those issues, you should have the ability to proactively monitor SLA requirements–specifically late shipments and payments (e.g. alert a specific employee when an advance ship notice has not been sent to a trading partner within 24 hours).

eight percent of manufacturing and distribution goes to chargebacks

Your business network solution should provide:
  • Proactive monitoring to alert appropriate users on SLAs BEFORE they are missed
  • Robust security features and consistent reliability
  • Collaboration throughout the business since breakdowns that lead to missed SLAs can occur anywhere
  • High-level reporting and analytics to identify trends and track improvement

Missing SLAs can lead to a slew of problems that can significantly reduce operational efficiency and set your business back. That’s why it’s critical to ensure your current solution provider is offering the reliability and performance you need to meet those requirements on a consistent basis.


Backlogged partner onboarding

If your partner onboarding isn’t up to par it can have a trickle-down effect on the rest of your operation. Partner collaboration and relationships, supply chain efficiency, time-to-market, and data accuracy can all be severely compromised when your process is lagging behind. Simply put–your reputation and revenue are on the line if it’s left unaddressed.

A recent McKinsey & Company study suggests that every one-point increase in customer onboarding satisfaction on a 10-point Net Promoter Score (NPS) scale resulted in a 3 percent increase in customer revenue.
  • Are you having issues seamlessly integrating your partners’ multiple systems, applications, and data formats, quickly and efficiently?
  • Are you plagued by security issues involving your partners’ sensitive information?
  • Do you have limited visibility into the entire onboarding process?
  • Is the whole undertaking becoming costly?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, it may be time to think about a solution that offers automation, real-time visibility, and the latest security features and protocols.

Limited or no self-service functionality

Self-service B2B access isn’t just a nice to have nowadays–it’s a necessity. Did you know that most IT teams typically spend 50% of their time answering questions, resolving problems, and troubleshooting EDI issues? It boils down to the fact that the business users asking those questions don’t have the tools to solve the issues themselves. Most of the companies we’ve talked with say the sweet spot is getting that percentage of time down to around 25%—which would allow them to free up their resources and focus on higher value projects. If you find yourself spending hours everyday searching for transactions and resolving issues, you may have a problem with your current tool.

Your solution should transform EDI into human-readable, actionable data and reduce the dependence on IT personnel.

We know that one of the most used documents in EDI/B2B is the purchase order (PO). However, we’ve discovered that very few companies utilize purchase order changes. Why? In a word, complexity. They’ve resigned themselves to the fact that processing a PO change is just too difficult and complex. More often than not, integration is required between their EDI/B2B system and their ERP. However, the right solution will enable you to process both documents, view all of the data, and send out notifications to necessary users right there within the system. This eliminates the need to integrate with a costly third party ERP, saving you lots of money in the process.

Syncrofy for Supply Chain
IBM Sterling B2B Integration SaaS with Syncrofy technology

IBM Sterling B2B Integration SaaS (formerly SCBN) and Syncrofy fill your current solution’s gaps by EMPOWERING you to see the blind spots in your supply chain, streamlining communication and data exchange between your internal teams and trading partners, and addressing shortcomings in your ERP/B2B visibility–all with self-service access! This power-packed duo can help you achieve:

  • 65% improvement in customer/partner satisfaction
  • 50% reduction in avoidable fines/fees via customizable SLA alerting
  • 55% less time spent searching for documents
  • 30% reduction in revenue leakage
…all through proactive visibility, real-time alerting, customizable reporting, and self-service.

IBM Sterling B2B Integration SaaS is a cloud-based, multi-enterprise data platform that allows businesses to efficiently connect and exchange data with their customers, suppliers, distributors, and other trading partners. Leveraging Syncrofy technology, it enables transparency, intelligence, and automation across supply chain networks.

Want to learn more?

Ready to say goodbye to your current business network solution and start your journey towards seamless data exchange, timely partner onboarding, and total supply chain efficiency?

Click here to schedule a consultation today and learn how we can show you the way!

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