In our last blog, we showed how Integration can clearly drive unparalleled value for you and your customers. But... it doesn’t make sense for every relationship. Though there are no hard-and-fast rules, considering where you stand in the following three areas can help you determine when and if you should integrate.

  1. Your transaction volume. As your number of PO and invoice transactions increases, the value of fully automating these processes escalates as well. If you conduct 1,000 or more transactions annually with any customer, you’ve reached the point where integration can deliver significant ROI. In some instances, even 500 transactions make it worthwhile, especially for more technologically sophisticated sellers whose business practices dictate earlier integration.
  2. Your current infrastructure. Several key infrastructure components are necessary to effectively support the integration process, so you’ll want to have these in place before getting started (note that Ariba can provide guidance in helping you develop the resources you’ll need, or connect you with third-party providers to create them for you):
    • A back-end ERP, order management, and/or accounting system such as QuickBooks, Sage, Great Plains, or any of the other widely available solutions that can generate the necessary files to be translated to cXML.
    • An enterprise application integration (EAI) or middleware tool such as webMethods or BizTalk to help you conduct document transformation and create the native cXML required. Depending on the protocol you plan to use, having experience with EDI or XML and/or a connection to a value-added network (VAN), AS2, or similar resource is also valuable, since you can leverage that knowledge and infrastructure for integration through Ariba.
  3. Your IT capabilities. While requirements differ depending on customer parameters, your existing infrastructure,and other variables, you’ll need to provide some degree of IT resources to manage the steps involved in integration. For example, if you’ve worked with EDI or XML in the past and already have the key infrastructure requirements set up, you should expect to devote about half an FTE for a period of 8 to 10 weeks to complete document mapping and other integration tasks. Basic understanding of supply chain document choreography as well as the ability to supply or match specifications needed to support the connection are crucial as well.


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