One fundamental aspect is to understand the structure of the network. The vast majority that exist in the context of business and supply chain networks have evolved through gradual connection of one entity to another, growing the network over time. This describes the workings of what is known as a “one-to-one” network.
A few vendors have designed their network bottom-up to cater for scalability and controlled structure. Instead of the one-to-one design, this network structure can be referred to as “many-to-many.” See my comparison of the two types of networks to spaghetti bowls and spider webs in this blog.
A network vendor using a scalable, recurring design can establish, commission and grow the network quickly and efficiently. However, the flexibility and scalability are only maintained if the network is strict on standardisation, remains true to its design rules and always keeps long-term perspective in its growth strategy.
Should you opt for the one-to-one or many-to-many structure? If customisation is of greater importance than scalability and your focus is short-term, one-to-one might work for you. Are you striving for global digitalisation, process harmonisation and long-term transaction cost control? Then the many-to-many option is the more attractive one. Regardless, before making your final decision, make sure you really understand the underlying structure of the network you are considering connecting to.