Previously in other blogs I have discussed having an Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) strategy.
EDI can benefit the business, however, if not thought through can cause issues to the business.
What is EDI?
EDI is no longer the EDIFACT, Tradacom, ANSI X12 transactional file formats. There is now a plethora of formats now available to use from simple CSV, Pipe Delimited to more complex XML and JSON file formats. Many of the newer file formats are bespoke so each might be unique.
You then have the connection. EDI was set up to use a Value-Added Network (VAN) however, technology has moved on and there are now X400, AS2, sFTP, email and API connections available.
So do not get hung up on the term EDI. Just think, any file format and any connection. If your strategy can support this behaviour, you will be in a good place.
What is nice about EDI is that is transactional. I received an order so I must acknowledge the order. Once the order has been picked, packed, and dispatched the order I must advise the dispatch. Finally, I then need to invoice the order.
If you are trading via an ecommerce marketplace or website, you will need to provide an inventory file to ensure that you are only selling products that are available.
There could be additional functionality that you need to consider such as a price catalogue. This is an ideal way of updating products and prices if you are working with seasonal products.
Let’s look at the negatives of EDI
Yes, there are negatives to trading via EDI. I can talk from experience as I was made redundant several times due to EDI being deployed by insurers trying to save money.
At the time the businesses were structured around manual keying. Once you deploy EDI and automate the processes what do you do with these staff?
At the time EDI was new to the insurance industry hence it happened several times to me.
If you can’t beat it join it
It was for this reason that I started my EDI journey. If you can’t beat it, join it.
I have myself delivered a development that meant people lost their jobs. It is for this reason I discuss the need for an EDI strategy. If you set up the business knowing that the intention is roll out EDI, then you will resource your business to reflect this activity.
Hopefully your business will grow through the adoption of EDI and the resources you employ will then be able to focus on servicing your customer base.
Think through your design
Stuff happens and how will you deal with it when it goes wrong. And yes, it will go wrong as the world is not perfect.
For me I place control within the business rather than externally. If I get an order and something is not quite right with the file, I would want to be able to edit the file then start a discussion with either the EDI Managed Service Provider or the Customer/Trading Partner so that the issue does not arise again. This would then allow me to process the order within any agreed Service Level Agreement that might be in place with the Customer / Trading Partner.
If you have validation in place within your processes, you should then protect your ERP system and the integrity of your data.
Knowledge is key
As I write this blog, I am trying to sell my services. When you deploy an EDI solution you do need to understand the requirements that are being presented by either the Customer/Trading Partner or the EDI Managed Service Provider.
You will find at times you will be asked technical questions about what you are trying to do. If you do not fully understand what is being asked then you need to acknowledge this. Your EDI Managed Service Provider might be able to answer the question but what if the question is related more to a business process that is internal to your business?
When considering a question you need to understand the whole process and where it might impact within the connected business processes within the business.
Rather than struggling or making decisions that could impact other parts of the business, call me and let’s see if the issues you are experiencing can be resolved.
EDI can have a big impact on the business and can be an aid to growing the business as it gives you more options and more opportunities.