With EDI there is often a gray area between where the simple Web EDI solution should end and the in-house traditional EDI software should begin. And sometimes companies do not know where to draw that line. They want EDI integration, but they don't necessarily have the staff to manage neither the EDI software nor the server hardware. Then there's the issue of cost. It's no secret that EDI software is expensive. That gray area is the perfect opportunity to look at EDI hosting.
EDI hosting can pick up where Web EDI leaves off, and it can offer an easy and relatively inexpensive entry point. I always recommend integration for a company that is processing at least 20 transactions per day. The stumbling block to change is usually fear. Some people are afraid of EDI integration for various reasons. They fear that it won't work correctly or that staff members will not embrace it. The truth is that if it's done right, it WILL work, whether you choose either EDI software or hosted EDI. AND if it's presented accurately, the staff will see it as something that will help them do their jobs more effectively and ultimately help the company.
So, once you have decided to take that step, it's time for research. Homework, homework, homework is the key to success. You MUST first decide what your business goals are in order to choose the right solution. You will also want to make sure your order processing system can handle integration, if not, maybe it's time for an upgrade? Until you decide what your long term needs are, there is no point in even interviewing EDI providers yet. Once your goals and needs are settled on, it's just a matter of finding a solution that fits. There are many types of hosted EDI solutions and they all offer different features. Some solutions will offer a Web portal to view your data. Others will work invisibly, but offer email alerts to notify you of a potential problem. Some will even act as a stepping stone, and can be migrated to an in-house EDI software solution saving you thousands of dollars once you reach that level.
EDI hosting, cloud services, SaaS...these are the buzz words of the moment and this type of service can be the answer you're looking for if you've outgrown that Web EDI solution that you've had for 10 years. Just make sure you know what you're getting and you have realistic expectations. EDI providers are not magicians but most reputable ones will offer you an efficient solution OR they will point you to another provider who can.