Note: Today’s post is part of our “Editor’s Pick” series where we highlight recent posts published by our sponsors that provide practical knowledge and advice on timely and important supply chain and logistics topics. Today’s post by Jerry Turner from Elemica, the first in a 4-part series, provides insights and advice on how to organize your B2B function for success.
Often when speaking with clients, the question comes up, “how do the most successful companies using a Supply Chain Operating Network (SCON) organize their B2B integration group? What’s the best-practice organization for my company?”
In this 4-part series of blogs, I will explore this topic and communicate what we believe is the most successful way to organize the B2B function.
First and foremost, it is NOT about IT. Successful B2B organizations can be IT-savvy, but they are considered “part of the business” instead of “part of IT.” It’s an important distinction since in many companies IT is where programming happens, in an ivory tower somewhere, without much knowledge of the customer’s requirements or the customer’s challenges. The B2B group, on the other hand, must work hand-in-hand with the customer and must understand the customer’s requirements very thoroughly in order to design, build, and test the company-to-company integration. They must also be held accountable to business-type goals such as increasing the volume of automated orders, rather than IT-type goals such as increasing the number of lines of code.
Quite often, the staff in the B2B group has previous knowledge of IT or even training and work experience directly in the IT function. That can be very helpful since it means they know the right questions to ask, the ins and outs of their ERP system, who does what in IT, they can troubleshoot issues in the mapping, and so on. That knowledge can be useful at times, although as we will see, a well-run B2B operation doesn’t necessarily need a lot of support from IT.