SaaS Solutions Can Offer Efficient EDI Alternative

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It seems a bit late for new year's resolutions. Given the economy, I'm guessing there's a good number of you who have already updated your 2008 resolution to read, "Grab your hat and hang on."


I still think this just-published list of eight B2B integration resolutions for 2008 is worth reviewing for two reasons: Some of the items could actually cut costs substantially while others could actually help your company bring money in faster.


It's written by Robert Pease, the vice president of marketing at Hubspan, which, of course, sells B2B integration services. Overall, his focus is on optimizing business processes, rather than cutting costs. In fact, goal number seven is "Stop dwelling on cost reduction and start thinking about increased sales and margins," a worthwhile recommendation, even if it may be impractical for some IT divisions, considering recession worries.


Other goals seem as obvious, but are actually worth reading. For instance, the article recommends you focus on eliminating manual exceptions to automated processes. It's easy to dismiss or overlook systems that basically work in the busyness of day-to-day IT operations. But as the piece points out, 10 to 25 percent of orders received require some form of manual intervention, which increases personnel costs and delays delivery of goods -- and, therefore -- incoming revenue.


I particularly liked number four, "Know when EDI is not enough." EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is old and reliable, but it's also expensive and difficult to manage if you're dealing with multiple customers, as this recent InfoWorld article points out. Both the Enterprise Systems and the InfoWorld articles make a convincing case for revisiting situations where you're using EDI to determine if a SaaS integration solution might be more efficient or save you money -- or both.


In fact, the InfoWorld piece outlines other business reasons to consider replacing EDI with a SaaS solution, such as that SaaS integration can simplify supply chain management if your company outsources business functions such as manufacturing, logistics or delivery.


Overall, Pease presents a solid set of strategic B2B integration goals that could actually help IT save the company money or speed up the revenue stream -- both of which are excellent goals, even if you're holding onto your hat with both hands.