The decision to integrate your EDI with your order processing is a big step toward streamlining and enhancing your business processes. As I have mentioned numerous times, any company processing more than 20 transactions per day should consider integration. But there are certain steps that should be taken when looking for an integration solution. What's more, EDI integration tools all come with different capabilities and choosing the right one can be overwhelming to say the least.
The first order of business is to is find out what sort of import/export and/or EDI capability your order processing system has. It could be flat files, database, XML, or built-in EDI module. Full function ERP systems have more flexibility than accounting software purchased in a retail store. If you do have an ERP system, are you due for an upgrade to the latest version? While you're considering the investment to integrate, reevaluating your accounting system may not be a bad idea either. Will it meet your long term business goals? Will it grow with you or will you outgrow it? Many of the traditional EDI software proposals we submit are for companies who are also replacing their ERP and/or accounting system.
Next, find out which EDI software packages are EDI Integration compatible with your specific file formats and what formats your Trading Partners are requesting. Other questions include...how much manual manipulation do you want to do? Do you need to purchase extra modules and/or integration bridges? Do you need live failover for disaster recovery or load balancing to handle peak processing issues on your server? How about a testing and development environment? How many Trading Partners do you expect to bring on board? How many maps? Which documents do you need to send or receive? Which documents need to be integrated? Do you want to do the mapping or do you want your provider or a consultant to do it? Will you communicate via a VAN (Value Added Network) service and/or AS2? These are all critical questions to ask yourself if you want a successful integration project.