Why outsourcing B2B integrations is often a black box

Many businesses grapple with setting up B2B integrations. They face a choice: give full control to an outside service, like a VAN provider, which can feel like flying blind, or keep it in-house and risk overloading their IT department, which can lead to delays and frustrated teams. This article will shed light on why relying on external providers often leaves companies in the dark, exploring the unseen complexities and communication gaps that often accompany outsourced solutions. We’ll inspect the ‘black box’ scenarios to understand the risks they pose and the importance of keeping a clear line of sight in your B2B operations.

The pros of outsourcing EDI

Outsourcing B2B integrations promises a world where expertise and efficiency converge to streamline your business processes. It’s the picture of handing over the reins to specialists who navigate the complexities of integration, so you don’t have to. The appeal lies in its potential for cost savings, with the reduction of in-house responsibilities and the allure of tapping into advanced technologies without upfront investments.

For many, it’s the strategic move that offers a chance to focus on core business functions while experts manage the behind-the-scenes data dance that keeps the global business stage connected. When looking at outsourcing, companies should closely examine if the practical outcomes live up to the initial promises.

The cons of outsourcing EDI

The ‘Black Box’ Phenomenon refers to the murky realm of outsourced B2B integrations, where visibility into the operational core is often obscured. Companies hand over their critical data exchanges, yet many find themselves grappling with a lack of clarity about how these processes are managed, optimized, or safeguarded.

The lack of transparency is the precursor to a cascade of challenges. For businesses, it means navigating without a clear map, leading to potential risks in data management and strategic planning miscommunications that can derail alignment with integration, and unexpected complexities that inflate costs and complicate scalability. Each of these issues, born from the darkness of the ‘black box’, underscores the need for a more transparent and collaborative approach to B2B integration outsourcing. Let’s take a closer look at the potential downsides of such a decision: 

1. Limited transparency

The absence of transparency can be unsettling, fostering an environment ripe for misunderstandings and misaligned expectations. When companies cannot see into the processes and algorithms at play, they lose the ability to manage risk effectively, potentially leading to strategic missteps and loss of control over their data flows.

2. Communication breakdowns

Many companies find themselves struggling with slow response times from VAN providers, particularly when setting up new partners. As one of many clients, your requests are queued, which can lead to prolonged wait times. This lack of prompt communication can create misalignment between the services received and the evolving needs of the company, resulting in B2B integration solutions that don’t quite hit the mark.

3. The cost of complexity

Outsourced B2B integrations can initially seem like a cost-effective solution, but the hidden intricacies can lead to spiraling costs. Complexity often translates into increased expenses, particularly when businesses need to scale or adapt their integrations quickly, resulting in a hefty price tag for modifications that lack transparency.

”People often ask me if EDI isn’t a black box, but it’s simply not the case with Link. I might be a semi-nerd, but with Link, the EDI world is also open to those who aren’t as nerdy. For example, we’ve given our colleagues in the finance and logistics departments viewing rights to Link so that they can find much of the information they need themselves. They’ve become much more self-reliant,” says Henriette Svendsen, Senior Integration Consultant E-commerce at Lemvigh-Müller. Read the whole case story here.

Do you outsource your B2B integration setup or not?

In the search for the ideal B2B integration strategy, the goal isn’t to denounce outsourcing or to champion in-house solutions as the only path. Rather, it’s about finding a harmonious approach that provides the necessary oversight, control, and customization capabilities your business requires. Flexibility is the cornerstone of this equilibrium, ensuring that the chosen integration system can evolve alongside your company’s changing needs. It’s this adaptability that can transform B2B integrations from a rigid necessity into a dynamic asset, empowering businesses to navigate the complex waters of data exchange with confidence and strategic finesse.

Finding a flexible B2B integration setup

It’s clear that while outsourcing B2B integrations might ease the burden on your IT department, it can also lead to a lack of control and insight. However, the path to clear, manageable B2B integration doesn’t end here. Beyond the in-house vs. outsourcing debate, there’s a third route—a platform that offers the benefits of both without the downsides. As you consider the future of your B2B processes, remember that finding a platform that prioritizes transparency and adaptability is key.

Want to see what this could look like for your business? Explore how Bizbrains Link can light the way.