The concept of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is still very abstract for a business owner up until today. More often, as soon as an SME (small to medium-size enterprise) is requested by an important partner to comply with electronic data interchange process or do EDI, everyone gets on a big pig panic inside the enterprise, and all reinforcements are being called to help with such project.
Why Integration projects are nightmare?
In fact, large chains are extremely important customers for many small and medium size enterprises. It is therefore essential, even vital, for many of them to follow the requirements imposed by those major retailers. Actually, all the large chains use mainly EDI format to exchange business transactions with their partners.
However, it can be risky for a company to embark on EDI integration without carefully evaluating business processes and needs.
Recommendations and steps for a successful integration
More than any other IT solution, EDI technology can profoundly modify several business processes of the company. EDI integration projects, must be planned and executed, according to a coherent process. Here are the different steps:
Step-1 Preparing of an EDI implementation team
It is essential that senior management be involved in any EDI integration project and implementation, at least at a high level.
Ideally, the EDI implementation team should include representatives from different departments, such as operations management, sales and information services.
It is important for the team to design together a good flow of information, so everyone understands the issues, the scope, and the benefits of the project. A project manager, should be assigned to take charge of such a mandate.
Step-2 Setting a project timeline
The implementation team should set and ETA and develop a plan with a complete list of tasks, resources required, and delivery estimates.
Step-3 Choice of standards
While the choice of standard of EDI format and communication protocols is very limited, this phase consists on just reviewing and making sure all specs and documentations are in place for the kick-off.
Step-4 Choice of documents for EDI transaction
Often, trading partners specify the EDI standard and the type of documents they will send or accept. Sometimes partners use only a few of the possible documents such an Invoice EDI 810 form and purchase orders EDI 850 form.
Step-5 “On premises” or “cloud” based ?
There are many ways to do EDI. It is depending of the anticipated transaction volume, or the size of the business. Going with a software solution deployed “on-premises” or adopting a “cloud based software” are the two
The Cloud-based EDI Service is an excellent solution for Small and Medium-sized enterprises that do not have a budget for large EDI projects, and who do not have experienced staff with EDI exchange.
The other way to get the most out of EDI, is by adopting a full EDI integration with your internal software management system like your ERP, CRM etc.
Step-6 File Integration or direct system integration
When it comes to integration, the implementation should be decisive on how the integration to their CRM/ERP is going to happen: there are (2) methods to do such an integration; either through file integration, Where the ERP has already some built-in jobs to import data based on specific format, or direct integration. Obviously, this decision is also dependent on whether the software management system is a legacy system or a modern one, fully loaded with all kinds of API and programming interfaces. This part can be the most difficult and lengthy part, unlike what most people think…
Step-7 Integration project testing
Pilot projects are conducted both within the company and with external business partners. EDI test should be of a specified duration. They will help identify possible loopholes and establish a problem-solving plan. Technical employees should be trained in the technical aspects of EDI.
Step-8 Setting up
The implementation of the EDI system must be combined with several factors in order to be successful: adequate users training, proper implementation plan, and establishment of an emergency procedure.
For a small to medium-size enterprises, EDI integration is a good deal. An Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) capable enterprise retains an important customer or supplier and have a lot of opportunities to enter into new contracts with large companies.
For many years our EDI2XML service has been offering up-to-date integrated solutions at an affordable cost. We have been helping companies of all sizes, to optimize operations and improve their competitiveness.