Catena-X aims to be the most user-friendly environment for building, operating, and collaboration using end-to-end data chains. This will be needed to meet the challenge of the onboarding of future users of the Catena-X network. This should be achieved as simply as possible, with little effort to maximise the expected benefits for the companies wanting to be connected - regardless of the "Catena-X readiness level", technical skills, organizational capability, or digitalization progress of the companies.
To meet differing needs of Catena-X users, the onboarding to Catena-X must be realized in various ways. This goes from fully supported onboarding process by selected service providers/consultants (focus of this document), to support for special topics only, to onboarding on one's own information(DIY). The goal for all these options is always a standardized onboarding process, which ensures fairness, consistency and transparency during the connection to Catena-X.
The Catena-X family invites advisory and consulting companies of all kinds who are willing to promote the successful onboarding of SMEs to join the Catena-X Advisory Ecosystem. One of the few requirements is the commitment to provide high-quality advise at fair and reasonable cost. Catena-X will support this undertaking with information and predefined content, such as tools like this document and a qualification and certification scheme to proof exceptional support and consulting capabilities.
Your Catena-X Onboarding Journey
This step conveys an essential set of information about the nature of the network, its benefits and the general setup of an onboarding journey. The objective of this first step is to enable the SME to be onboarded to be able to make a qualified decision on potential business opportunities of the network.
We guide you step by step:
The objective of this step: By guiding SMEs, step by step through the onboarding journey, the normalized process creates a guardrail with pre-defined activities and tasks that can be scheduled and with expected measurables.The SME receives a high-level overview and sufficient information to make a qualified decision about their potential involvement with Catena-X.
Select your onboarding partner
The objective of this step: Besides the “self-onboarding” respective “do it yourself” scenario where an enterprise performs the onboarding with their own internal resources and capacities, the inclusion of onboarding supported by an external partner could be considered. In such cases, the type of support and type of onboarding should be evaluated and defined to enable the ability to select a suitable onboarding partner. To formally agree with the onboarding partner about the scope, success criteria, timeline, costs and necessary customer’s contributions or obligations for the next phase, or the “Business Value” process steps.
The successful onboarding requires a qualified business value for the SME to be onboarded. Therefore, it is essential to evaluate the business needs of the SME and to define a clear business purpose and value proposition.
Define your business purpose:
The objective of this step: A common understanding of the “WHY-WHAT-HOW” of Catena-X in order to enable all participants to contribute to the following discussion and to be appropriately prepared for taking the decision of the business purpose(s) – and maybe a prioritization order in the case of multiple use cases or business purposes that may be applied.
The objective of this step: The result of this exercise should be a business case providing a financial outlook on benefits and costs of participating in the Catena-X network. It shall serve as one of the decision criteria for the company’s management, if and to what engagement degree a company shall be active in the network. However, the pure quantifiable financial perspective from such a business case frequently will not be the only decision criteria for joining the Catena-X network.
Invite your ecosystem:
The objective of this step: In case this onboarding step is considered as necessary or helpful, the objective is to close the data related gaps with the data value chain that might be an obstacle for their own data needs and requirements from partners, authorities, suppliers, and customers.
The technical enablement is dedicated to all technical and IT related topics during the onboarding process. It covers four mandatory and consecutive steps that contain themselves, one more or subsequent activities that must be performed. The objective of technical enablement is to establish the connection to the Catena-X ecosystem.
The objective of this step: At latest when the SME starts the technical onboarding a registration at Catena-X is required. Once the registration is done, the organisation will have access to more detailed information on current use cases and already existing applications.
The objective of this step: Configure and establish the connection to the Catena-X network. It covers the setup and implementation of the EDC which is the foundation to connect with the Catena-X data space (See Figure 3: Catena-X Ecosystem), i.e., activities with external relationships. It does not cover any activities required to enable internal systems to work with the Catena-X ecosystem.
The objective of this step: The Catena-X Ecosystem covers various types of data exchange with other partners. The data exchange will be of mutual benefit only if all partners have a data governance and data management scheme in place that can be used as a guardrail to ensure the data sovereignty of each partner. Therefore, the type of data and the data flow should be defined as a blueprint for the following data integration.
The objective of this step: Once the external connection has been established, the goal of this step is to enable the SME to consume the data of other business partners of the Catena-X ecosystem and to provide their own data to be consumed by others. This requires that all applications have the ability of mapping and understanding each other’s data. Therefore, Catena-X has developed and provides shared semantic models that must be used for any data exchange.
End to End Testing
The objective of this step: The data integration and finally the technical enablement must be completed and approved by an end-to-end testing procedure. The Catena-X ecosystem provides a guided approach and defined testing methods to achieve this.
Once the technical enablement is done it is essential to adopt data governance guidelines and integrate them into the organizations daily business. An established connection with the Catena-X ecosystem increases, on one hand, the efficiency and reliability of a data exchange between the industry partners and open, on the other hand, various opportunities for innovative business cases. However, to benefit from these improvements and opportunities, the established connection must be maintained and used actively and with the right stance on technical and cultural capabilities.
As a consequence, the final phase of the Catena-X onboarding journey covers trainings on data governance and organizational culture to ensure mutual benefit.
Data Skills Training
The objective of this step: When acting as a data provider or data consumer within the Catena-X ecosystems it will be necessary to address and provide technical and organisational data skills like data governance and data quality to ensure a safe and reliable data exchange with other industry partners. Exchanging data by using the Catena-X network requires data that needs to be available, up to date, consistent, complete, reliable and in the right format. Furthermore, the storage and handling must be secure and done on agreed policies and standards to avoid unauthorized access, unintended modifications, loss, and other events that might compromise ownership data of data that belongs to others. Thus, data skill trainings can help to achieve this.
The objective of this step: Data-driven businesses treat data as strategic assets and use data analysis and interpretation in the decision-making process. Considering data as an asset brings better services, more cost effectivity, earlier innovation compared to competitors, transparency and understanding. However, this requires the adoption of data related topics into daily business and processes. Therefore, it is recommended to establish an organisational culture that supports the handling of data as a prerequisite of a successful and sustainable future business. To achieve this, various concepts and frameworks are available to facilitate such thinking that can be used as potential ground for training and courses to allow the successful onboarding to the Catena-X ecosystem.
Lead of the Working Group „Advisory Ecosystem“
Business Owner Onboarding Small and Medium Enterprises and Co-Lead of the Working Group "Advisory System"
Co-Lead of the Working Group „Advisory Ecosystem“