Four steps to stronger e-business relationships

Technology can go only so far in rooting out supply chain waste. To build a truly efficient--and more lucrative--bridge with your e-business partners, Hurwitz recommends taking these four steps.

Building a better business community is a top mandate in today's more tightly linked, electronic world.

The community is large and many faceted, ranging from complex organizations down to smaller, yet important participants. Technology is the path on which businesses interact. Currently, organizations are transforming their technology from paper based to electronic data interchange (EDI), from EDI to XML, from simple XML to complex XML transactions, and are using all kinds of variations of these technologies.

But regardless of the stage or type of technology being employed, companies too often still have wasteful supply chains because they have not taken steps to foster better communities. Remedying this problem is no small feat, but doing so will generate an enormous return.

The Hurwitz take: Building a better business community is not just a matter of IT implementing technology; it requires the following business actions:

  • Compose a consistent, business value-based message for your partners, explaining the need for transforming transactions, the desired action, and results for participants.
  • Organize internal resources, including people, processes, and applications that will support a more collaborative, electronic community. Organize knowledge of partnerships, including number, type, frequency, and value of transactions.
  • Motivate employees to build success because this work often pulls them away from core responsibilities. Provide partners with incentives to transform and participate by demonstrating cost savings and smoother transactions.
  • Deliver technology solutions that include the appropriate balance of EDI and XML to help automate transactions, reducing errors, forms processing time, late payment penalties, and latent communications in the tightly linked community.
These four actions require a number of coordinated subactions to be successful, but heading down this path can mean the difference between creating a cash vacuum between you and your business partners and building a lucrative, more efficient bridge that capitalizes on the promises of today's technology and delivers better relationships with your partners.

Tyler McDaniel is managing director of analyst services for application strategies at Hurwitz Group. This article was first published by Hurwitz on July 19, 2002.