EDI implementation is a time-consuming, costly, and frustrating process for nearly everyone. And what happens when your retailers’ requirements change? You’re expected to make corresponding changes to your EDI implementation. You’ll have to go back in, rewrite code, send a test transaction, get the results, tweak the code, test again, and repeat until you achieve a successful transmission.
Rather than just complaining, focus on identifying and eliminating the biggest bottlenecks in setting up EDI connections.
1. Gathering requirements
If you’re a manufacturer, your retail partners know you need their storefront exposure to sell your products. They expect you to meet their data requirements if you want to do business with them.
If you can’t understand their data requirements, you’re going to be largely on your own. Yes, your retail partners generally want you to have a good onboarding experience. But they don’t have the manpower, nor the inclination, to spend hours explaining things to you.
So you’ll have to meet their often cryptic requirements, which may very well involve the use of value-added networks, FTP, or the AS2 protocol.
2. Studying your ERP system
You may use your ERP every day, but do you really understand the best ways to pull data out of it?
If your company uses a fairly modern ERP, you’ll at least have some good documentation at your disposal. If you’re on an aging legacy ERP, the person who wrote it may be long gone from the company. You’ll probably have to rely on tribal knowledge to make the system do what you want.
3. Setting triggers
Data extraction is just one of your worries. When you’re building an EDI implementation, you also have to think about what will trigger the transmission of documents. Do your trading partners want you to send them documents in real time throughout the day? Or would it be best to send batches of transactions during off-hours?
4. Extracting your data
Manually extracting data from your ERP or accounting system may seem to be the best course of action in the immediate future. But what will happen when your business grows? How will you scale up data extraction? And do you even want to scale up a notoriously error-prone process? If you haven’t already researched automatic methods of data extraction, now is the time.
5. Mapping your data
EDI mapping is much more complex than it appears. As we mentioned in a recent article, the process involves functional work that’s typically performed by a business expert and technical work that’s performed by an IT expert. The goal here is to map the XML or JSON data that comes out of your system into an EDI format so that you can send an EDI document to your retailer.
Read This Before Your Next EDI Implementation
These are just five of the biggest time-wasters in every EDI implementation. We can think of at least three more. To get all eight—and find out what to do about them—download our new white paper,
“Why EDI Is Such a Headache for Suppliers—and What You Can Do About It.”