Over the past 30 years, we’ve all heard more than our fair share of issues when it comes to EDI Integration. Often times, part of the problem is the lack of a joint effort between the integrator, the system provider, and the 3rd party EDI provider, to communicate the challenges and resolve them as a team.
Create a network of handpicked experienced partners, who will work to develop and implement EDI solutions that will meet your requirements, and that will offer a smooth EDI integration experience is a challenge in itself.
4 main challenges that arise when companies want to tackle EDI integration
Complex B2B Integration with trading partners
The complexity behind B2B EDI integration gets an additional layer of challenge when the retailer’s business rules and guidelines are to be mapped according to specific criteria, which are different for each and every retailer; an 810 invoice, is not ‘just an 810 invoice’. Some elements in the EDI maps are common for most retailers, however, every retailer may add EDI segments that are unique and specific to its business requirements. The experience of the EDI integration provider becomes extremely valuable. Many SMBs, doing in-house EDI, are overwhelmed with the amount of errors generated by their EDI transactions; for example, a great deal of these errors originate from mandatory elements that are identified as ‘optional’ in the EDI map, but turn out to be mandatory elements on the actual EDI. Another typical challenge is the validation of each segment in order to render an EDI transaction compliant. Relying on the guidelines provided by the retailer alone may not be enough. It would also be wise to choose an EDI integration partner with an extensive EDI experience dealing with your trading partners, as they would already be familiar with all the business rules. There are cases in which an EDI transaction may be rejected due to specific elements that were not in the retailer’s EDI guidelines to begin with. In addition, you would need a visibility tool that will allow you to monitor the exchange of EDI transactions and to identify the error type (which segment is not compliant, etc.). While EDI integration, with all your trading partners, may be a long process, partnering with a service bureau that will continue to process your EDI transactions in the interim, until integration with your ERP system is complete, is imperative in order to ensure that business resumes as usual, with no unnecessary disruptions or losses.
Two primary solutions solve the responsiveness challenge; first and foremost, prioritizing the commitment by delivering a ‘firefighter-style’ response time. Secondly, building a platform to reduce the amount of exceptions or fire drills that occur.
With the right system, data manipulation isn’t necessary, and time can be spent managing exceptions via subscriber alerts, dashboards and notifications, leveraging the data in the native database. Also, a support system that allows you to manage your issues where all the partners and users have transparent visibility to the same information, will prevent silos, tribal knowledge, and keep all parties on the same page.
Flexible Processes & Integration
The philosophy that turns a good EDI integration into a great one, is having the ability to adapt to the way you do business and not the other way around. Use a solution that offers you the option of having everything managed for you or giving you the open-source application tools and training resources to perform and be self-sufficient. Our unique solutions offer tools for your team to be able to create the maps that will meet and accommodate your specific business needs. Technical integration options come from the same philosophy; do EDI your way, with the formats you, your retailers, and other trading partners prefer, thereby setting near real-time integration based on the granular intervals and the workflow you require.
Affordability & Timing
Your business faces numerous priorities simultaneously; IT projects and infrastructure upgrades, sales productivity, customer relationship management, marketing, and accounting, to name a few. The cost, the time and effort required to change from one system to another, or upgrade your current ERP version, is a major undertaking. Web forms, portals and other duplicate, manual data entry processes, run the risk for data inaccuracy and can jeopardize business relationships with your trading partners. Often times, companies wait until they have landed the next big account. The least ideal scenario is to scramble to get the right solution in place in a rush. Make sure your EDI integration solution is affordable, to allow for a return on investment even with your smaller accounts, as you scale your business.
We encourage you to evaluate all your options and choose an EDI solution that will offer the best practice and experience for your business.
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Jon & Sophie Barbara Desilets
Jon Reifler is Vice President at BSI EDI and Sophie Barbara Desilets is President at EDI Gateway. Both companies are Microsoft Gold Partners and work together to implement EDI integration solutions with Microsoft Dynamics ERP, including readiness for Microsoft Dynamics GP 2016, NAV 2016, AX 7 and full backwards compatibility. The BSI/EDI Gateway platform was built by, and for, companies needing responsive, flexible and easy B2B integration with their trading partners, coupled with unmatched affordability.
System integration is a major challenge in many industries. When considering an ERP system integrator, clients must consider 5 key factors