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Solar´s Journey to Digitization through better B2B Integration

Solar invested in new tech to improve B2B integrations. Read how Link helped them activate self-service, reuse SAP PI mappings, and enabled business to scale.

Solar is one of Denmark’s leading sourcing and service enterprises in the fields of electricity, HVAC, industry and climate/energy. Fully 50% of the company’s sales are made digitally through the Solar webshop, and the firm is looking to digitalize as many processes as possible.

As a part of its general digitalization strategy, Solar made the decision to invest in new technology in order to reinforce and improve the business’ integrations, both internal and external. From a B2B perspective, they were looking for an integration platform that was strong in the area of EDI and interacted smoothly with the company’s SAP solution. Further, the platform was ideally to be able to manage both customer-specific integrations and integrations based on standards. Following a thorough research process, the decision finally went to Link from Bizbrains.

Self-service and faster integration were the keys

“We had four main wishes regarding B2B integration“, relates Jakob Andersen, Integration Manager at Solar. “First, we wanted to be more digital. Second, we wanted to be easier to integrate with. Third, we wanted to minimize the time we spent on the actual integrations, to make us more flexible with a faster time to market. And fourth, we wanted to improve self-service opportunities for our business integration specialists, enabling them to take care of integrations without having to involve us in IT.”

No desire to start over

There were several reasons why Solar chose Link, as Jakob Andersen is quick to point out: “Link is highly intuitive and lets us meet our requirements for self-service. What is more, it was really important to us not to throw away all the work we’d already put into SAP, which is our entire back-end. It is in SAP that we deal with our invoices, orders and similar incoming and outgoing documents, and we’d already completed 500+ mappings in SAP PI. It would’ve meant a whole lot of work if we’d had to junk our SAP PI, so we were keen to avoid that scenario.”

SAP PI as mapping engine

“Link enables us to keep SAP PI as the mapping engine, while all the routing and all the configuration take place in Link. Added to that, Link makes it easy to copy and test mappings so we can re-use or adapt them, thus saving a lot of time. As an added bonus, the solution itself is scalable and easy to connect – and these were other important parameters for us. Given that Link is a cloud solution, we constantly benefit from new functionality and as we’re in close contact with Bizbrains, we even have the chance to influence the development ourselves.”

No need for the business division to involve IT

“Something else we consider a real benefit is that Link is made up of modules,” emphasizes Jakob Andersen. “So far, we’ve purchased the Link Basis pack along with two of the modules, and we can then buy more modules as we go. The best thing about Link, however, is absolutely the selfservice capability. We employ a number of highly skilled business specialists and they were really quick to learn what they can use Link for. This means that they have much less reason to involve us in the IT department than they had before. For example, they can easily re-send invoices and other document types, and it’s generally much simpler to take care of support tasks.”

Valuable monitoring and tracking of documents

Monitoring has become a whole lot easier, too, since Solar started using Link. As Jakob Andersen explains: “Our integration specialists out in the business division are notified if something goes wrong. For example, someone in our sales department may receive a message that there’s an error in the sales process. In many cases, they can now go in and correct the error themselves – by resending a document, for instance. They can also see if something really has gone wrong if a customer or supplier calls in to report a possible error. Link has provided full transparency in relation to tracking all the documents that either come into or go out of our systems, and if the error doesn’t come from us, our integration specialists pass on the message to the person who called in. This way, the problem can be taken care of in the right place and straight away – again, without us in IT having to take care of it.”

Faster onboarding of customers and suppliers

“Previously, a lot of the reporting work landed on our desks in IT, but we’ve now been able to transfer this to the business division as well. And, of course, there’s the whole onboarding aspect: Using Link, our integration specialists can often onboard new customers and suppliers while they’re actually talking to them on the phone. This is hugely valuable for us and for our customers!”

From idea to commissioning in just a few months

It took only three months from the day Solar held its first working meeting with Bizbrains to the day the company had the solution up and running. The implementation ran incredibly smoothly, which is something Jakob Andersen naturally appreciates: “Of course it took a lot of hard work, but I knew all along that we’d get there in the end. We had the right people both internally and externally, and we’ve enjoyed a great working relationship and an excellent process. We actually ran a highly traditional process with POC, project plan, milestones and so on, but still with an agile approach.”

One-to-many integrations makes it easy to target everyone

While Solar has only been using Link for a few months now, the company already has plans for the future. “Since introducing Link, we’ve already phased out the reference client we had in place for the NemHandel system, and which we previously had to spend half an hour to an hour supporting every single day. In the longer term, we’re considering migrating all our traditional VAN integrations to Link as well. The smart thing is that we no longer need to integrate with all kinds of different platforms, but can instead set up one-to-many integrations via Link. This makes it easy for us to target everyone we want to integrate with. It’s a huge advantage,” concludes Jakob Andersen.

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