Choosing an integration provider isn’t a small decision; it’s likely to be a long relationship. A lot of our customers have been with us for over 10 years and they often turn to us for our expertise.
Doing your homework at the beginning will help you find the right provider for your business. This includes your current needs, as well as those that might arise in future.
Here are five things to consider when choosing an integration provider.
1. Do they meet your technical requirements?
Before beginning the search for an integration provider, it’s important to look inward at your business and its objectives. You need to be clear on what you want to achieve to ensure the provider has an appropriate solution.
- Who are you looking to exchange messages with?
Thousands of trading partners, or just one? Are they suppliers, retailers, customers, a network like eInvoicing or STN (Superannuation Transaction Network)? Where are they based? What levels of capability do they have?
- What messages do you need to exchange?
Procurement messages, finance messages, reports, contracts? Is this likely to expand in future? Can the provider cater for the types you need?
- What services do you require?
An integration and mapping solution, a webform solution, a pass-through solution? A solution to offer to your trading partners? Technical support and expertise?
- And how much work are you prepared to do?
Do you want a completely automated solution with built-in business rules and matching, or are you willing to do some manual work? Do you have resources within your business that will complete some work, or are you planning to outsource it all?
- How flexible is their technology?
Can it expand as your business does? Is it cloud based or installed? Can it cater for all future messages you might want to add down the track?
Once you have everything jotted down, you can rank the importance of the requirements – for example, ‘non-negotiable’, ‘important’ and ‘nice to have’. If you start with outlining your needs, it’ll make the process of eliminating providers much easier.
2. Does their business align with yours?
Make sure their business culture and service offering is right for you.
Some companies have a very methodical way of working, whereas others can tailor their approaches to suit each client. Before getting started, discuss how the company would work with you, including what will happen after the solution has been implemented. Establish what level of guidance is needed along the way and be clear on what is chargeable and what’s not.
3. Do they have the right experience?
Do your research into the solutions they’re providing to their existing customers.
Niche industries can have certain requirements that others don’t have. Ask the company what industries they have experience in and what challenges your particular industry faces.
On the flip side, a company that has experience in various industries can be advantageous; they can apply things learned from one industry to others, and add useful features to their products and services. For example, the highest security required by some of our customers is applied to all gateways, regardless of your industry.
Look at the company’s current customers to see if they’re companies you aspire to be like. Are the companies at the forefront of electronic messaging, and for example, excel in their supply chain efficiency?
Asking for references is one of the best ways to find out about a company. Have a chat with the provider to see if they can put you in touch with a client or two.
Lastly, pick their brains about what’s happening in your industry and in electronic messaging more generally. They may be able to shed some light on upcoming initiatives or changes. After all, technology is ever changing.
4. Does their support model work for your business?
Getting the solution up and running is the first step. But the ongoing support and maintenance is just as important. Think about the following things.
- What type of support will you need?
Do you have an in-house team that can assist with technical enquiries? Or do you need your provider assist with all enquiries?
- Where is their support located?
Do you need support to be based locally or will an overseas support centre suit you? Do you need to be able to phone someone straight away or is email support sufficient?
- How easy is it for the provider to execute additional requirements?
If you choose to add other requirements at a later stage, how long will it take for requirements to be gathered and development to be competed?
- What are their support processes?
How quickly will they respond to your enquiries? How can their support team be contacted? Are they available when you’ll need them?
- Do they actively monitor your gateway?
Is it solely your responsibility or does your provider monitor the gateway for you? Do they have automated monitoring? And can it be tailored to your needs?
5. Is their pricing model suited to you?
Look at the pricing models of the providers you’re considering to see which one suits your business.
Find out how the provider charges; is their charging model quite complex? Do they charge per message? Based on data consumed? Number or kilocharacters? Are their plans capped or uncapped? Also look at their charging model for ongoing support.
As touched on earlier, be clear about what’s chargeable and what’s not. This will ensure you’re both on the same page and will reduce likelihood of conflict in the future.
These are some of the key things to consider when selecting the right integration provider for your business. Spending time doing this research will pay off; a long, healthy relationship is beneficial to your business and theirs.