Is Your B2B Vehicle Running Out of Miles
- April 3rd, 2012
- By: Loraine Lawson
Every year, around my birthday, I like to reassess whether I need to start saving for another car, but its not the only time I weigh my options. Whenever the car won’t start or we have to take two vehicles because one won’t hold all the children — these also trigger long discussions about whether or not it’s time to buy a new car.
We often think of these things in our personal life, but in the day-to-day rush of business, it’s easy to neglect these big-picture questions, even with critical business solutions like B2B systems.
B2B systems are a lot like automobiles, actually. You can use them until they break down or no longer meet your needs, which can cost you more in the long run.
On the other hand, regularly re-assessing your B2B system can be a great way to build credibility with your CEO and CFO and possibly find major cost savings by recognizing when it’s time to move on.
Let’s look at a few signs that it may be time to replace your existing B2B system:
The lease is up. When a lease on a car comes up, you have to make a decision. You can keep leasing the car until you’ve paid for it, lease another car from the same dealer, or shop around for a better deal. B2B systems cost much more than cars, and yet, many companies automatically sign on with existing VAN or Managed Services vendor when it’s time for a new lease. Give yourself about six weeks — more if you can — to shop around before that time comes. Mark it on your calendar and send out an RFP to both your existing vendor and their competitors.
Too many small vehicles. I knew a couple that had three vehicles, two of which were unreliable. The smart move was to consolidate, replacing two with another reliable car. The same thing can happen with B2B systems. On average, a modern mid- to large-sized company has three to six separate B2B systems, supporting different document standards and protocols. Often, this happens due to acquisition. The office supply chain Staples is one example of a company that inadvertently ended up with too many B2B systems during company acquisitions. By consolidating on one system, they managed to reduce licensing costs, standardize processes, reduce supply chain disruptions and free up IT staff for other projects. The move can lead to significant savings.
You overuse taxis. I don’t live in a large city, but any time I visit one, I take taxis, and I’m always surprised at the costs. This can happen with organizations, too. Taxis and Value Added Networks (VANs) are similar and you pay per use, which can become expensive really quickly. It might be cheaper to operate your own B2B Gateway than paying monthly VAN charges.
Too many miles. Vehicles break down more frequently as they age. The technology also becomes outdated, and they can’t deliver the fuel efficiencies of newer automobiles. The same thing happens with B2B systems, which is why when you evaluate your B2B system, you want to make sure it will be in good working order now and through your company’s longer strategic plan. That means any time a new strategic plan is unveiled, it’s a good time to evaluate your B2B system and ask whether it can support the strategic vision and any growth that might require.
Ideally, you won’t reach that point because you’ve made it a priority to regularly ensure your B2B system is meeting your needs and, if not, made plans for replacement.
Of course, assessing your B2B system doesn’t mean you will replace it. You may find that it fits your needs perfectly, both now and for the foreseeable future. However, by regularly assessing your B2B system at key points, you can confidently answer your CEO’s question about your ability to support your business partners.