Electronic data interchange (EDI) solutions are a must for any business looking to increase back-end efficiency and facilitate the exchange of documents among multiple trading partners. However, EDI implementation and compliance do not happen in a vacuum; here’s what you need to know to effectively source, deploy and manage EDI.
Implementation in Two Parts
The first step in effectively implementing EDI systems? Develop a corporate structure, which supports their use. Identify which departments will be responsible for managing these tools and which individuals will form the dedicated EDI response team. In addition, C-suite support is a must to enable long-term ROI. Next, companies must determine how many partners require EDI interaction and estimate the volume of transactions required day to day. This helps create a software baseline and allows you to quickly identify EDI providers that meet your needs for volume, speed and diversity. In addition, this kind of preplanning can help eliminate redundancy from existing processes before money is spent on EDI deployment.
The second part of EDI software implementation focuses on the interaction between other business systems and your new deployment; EDI must align with enterprise resource management (ERP) solutions, warehouse management tools and accounting software to deliver a truly agile and effective end result. Look for a vendor that supplies a built-in connection tool — such as Acom’s EZConnect EDI — allowing you to easily process multiple file types such as native EDI, XML along with those of delimited or fixed length.
Along with implementation, compliance is critical to maximize the use of EDI solutions. Ultimately, compliance depends on your ability to send and receive EDI documents in the manner required by your trading partners. Not only format but data entry rules must be followed, and many companies have unique EDI characteristics that are often communicated via an EDI “guide” or “kit”. To achieve compliance, your company has two choices: Map each new requirement manually, requiring extensive testing and retesting to ensure accuracy or rely on a real-time, automatic mapping service, which allows you to map data from ongoing transactions on the fly.
In addition, it’s crucial to deploy EDI software, which lets you easily search all transactions using the criteria of your choice. This is essential if trading partners have questions about a specific document or outside compliance agencies make a legitimate request to see your transaction data. Bottom line? Making time for compliance before deployment of an EDI system saves time in the long run.
EDI is now a necessity to effectively compete on the global market. Empowering EDI, however, requires comprehensive implementation and dedicated compliance.