Having a data integration solution ensuring smooth b2b communications with your trading partners is one of the most crucial aspects of successful business today.
Over the past few decades, technology advancement has brought to the market a lot of vendors offering modern technology and services allowing companies to replace their outdated on-premise data integration solutions with modern cloud-based ones.
This shift has helped to increase the efficiency of b2b data exchange for many. However, where integrations are built in-house, a dedicated team of integration experts is still paramount.
Due to the absence of such teams, or a desire to alleviate the burden of managing integrations in-house, companies consider going even further and choosing fully managed solutions over in-house ones.
One of the big problems is still that often due to confusion about the difference between managed and fully managed solutions, many make a wrong choice and find themself in a situation when they still need to do much work in-house.
This article discusses the differences between the two terms, "managed" and "fully managed", and explains what each of these means today.
By the end of this article, you should know a lot more about the difference between managed and fully managed solutions for b2b data integration and understand what aspects should be considered when looking for a reliable vendor providing such solutions. Let's get started.
What is a managed solution for b2b data integration, and how does it differ from a fully managed one?
Although the terms managed and fully managed data integration sound similar, they imply different things and should not be confused when choosing one for yourself.
Knowing the key distinctions between the terms, you can find a solution allowing you to relieve internal resources and benefit from more efficient and reliable data exchange, as well as avoid unexpected expenses on unplanned efforts.
To show the difference between the two, we will not make a direct comparison of certain solutions from each category but try to explain the concept behind each term.
In the big picture, both – managed and fully managed – solutions are a combination of two things: the necessary IT technology (integration platform or software) and a service element you can expect from a vendor regarding implementation and maintenance of the technology.
While the IT element defines the functionality and efficiency of the chosen solution, it does not directly dictate whether the solution will be managed or fully managed. So, to simplify our exercise, let's not go into technical details of today's existing b2b connectivity platforms. Instead, we will assume that technical capabilities of the IT element for all those are the same (which, again, is not the case in reality).
With this in mind, the key factor distinguishing between the solutions is the level of service a vendor provides for the technology. Or better to say, the extent to which a vendor will manage these solutions.
If you wonder why this is so important, the answer is simple – this factor defines how many resources you will need to keep the chosen solution up and running.
Key areas indicating whether the chosen solution is fully managed or not
Although the service element of data integration solutions might dramatically differ from vendor to vendor, three key areas clearly indicate whether the chosen one is fully managed or not. These areas are partner onboarding process, data management service, and solution support and scaling. Let's look at each more closely.
Partner onboarding is the most crucial differentiator between the two categories if you are focused on b2b communications. If the chosen vendor does not offer this option in full capacity, such a solution cannot be considered fully managed.
Ideally, this process should include the initial mapping and connection testing, as well as obtaining the necessary information and documentation from all involved partners.
Offering partner onboarding as a part of the SLA, a vendor will act as a "middleman" between the customer and its trading partners and takes all responsibility for the steps outlined above.
Since onboarding is a complex process, requiring close communication with all involved parties and understanding a specific of a given industry, a vendor's experience and industry focus are the most critical factors affecting the speed of onboarding.
Data management service
When it comes to data exchange, the responsibility of a vendor providing fully managed integrations goes far beyond a simple establishment of connections between a client and its network of trading partners.
As a rule, a fully managed integration solution vendor provides 24/7 monitoring of data flows, ensuring stable and reliable data exchange between a client and its network of trading partners. Data mapping, routing, and harmonization - just a few examples of tasks a fully managed service takes care of.
Besides that, a vendor's professional services team will be responsible for constant monitoring of data accuracy and for error notifications and reports sending if errors occur during transmission.
Solution support & scaling
No matter how good your data integration solution is, changes in your partners' data standards, formats, or protocols are unavoidable. Usually, these changes are unpredictable and might happen at any moment. The beauty of a fully managed service is that such situations will be identified and addressed by a vendor's professional service team with no involvement from your side.
In the case of data volume change, you should not worry either. With fully managed services, you will get not only a technical, rule-based scaling typical for most managed solutions but also a vendor's professional service team predicting future payloads and doing service dimensioning proactively.
In other words, a dedicated support team and a personal project manager that will be 100 percent familiar with your case and optimally prepared to solve problems quickly is another element that distinguishes managed and fully managed solutions.
Often, in the world of b2b data integrations, vendors call their solutions managed if they are hosting an integration platform and have an R&D development team improving it occasionally. So, when you hear the "managed solution" term, it most likely refers to the overall support and some elements from the data management domain outlined above. In contrast, providers of "fully managed" solutions commit to handling the whole integration process from initial design and implementation of a solution to maintenance and new partner onboarding.
By choosing fully managed solutions, you can relieve your internal resources and stay focused on your core competencies to grow your business, while a vendor's team possessing a great deal of knowledge and skills will handle all necessary operations on behalf of you.
Managed vs. fully managed solutions in one analogy
If you're still a little confused about the differences between managed and fully managed solutions, let's quickly compare it one to one by an analogy.
Imagine a situation when you need to buy new kitchen cabinets. Let's see what options you have available.
The first one is to go to Home Depot or any other DIY store to buy expensive tools and materials needed to build a new kitchen entirely yourself. The closest analogy in the world of b2b integrations would be an in-house project where you are building an integration solution from scratch. Besides mentioned tools and materials, you need to have some carpenter skills, a lot of time and money to get this work done.
The second option would be to go to IKEA or, again, the Home Depot and find a kitchen system that would work for you the best. Here, you will get a boxed piece of furniture that still needs your time and skills to be assembled and installed. We can consider this case as a managed solution since you have a furniture kit, assembly instructions, and can expect some support from the seller service team if needed. All those extra services will make your project more expensive.
The last option is to order a custom build kitchen from a local store focusing primarily on kitchen production. In this case, you will get a kitchen that will be not only designed according to your needs but also delivered and fully assembled specifically for you, plus better quality materials and an extended warranty. In terms of b2b integrations, this case would be a fully managed solution.
Hopefully, the differences between managed and fully managed solutions are now a lot clearer, and you have also gained a basic understanding of what aspects you need to consider when looking for a fully managed data integration solution.
If you still have questions or data integration challenges that you need help with, please contact us via this form or book a free meeting with our integration architect. Our team will be more than happy to answer all your questions or suggest a solution to overcome the specific challenges you face.
Youredi is the leading provider of fully managed data integration services and solutions for logistics and the global supply chain.
Youredi enables customers' business scaling and automation through its unified and modern platform for API and EDI transactions. Besides technology, we understand your business.
Youredi's solutions are versatile, secure, reliable, and provided as a fully managed integration service. Youredi enables quick data connectivity and process integration between trading partners of any size. Integrating with ecosystems, carriers, shippers, consignees, and the systems they use, Youredi provides global scale, speed, and agility. A seamless and timely flow of 100% accurate data provides organizations with the ability to analyze and optimize all their supply chain processes.
Youredi operates globally from Helsinki, Finland, and New York City, USA.
For more information, please visit www.youredi.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org