Photo appears courtesy of Todd Hryckowian. Today's blog was written by David McAlister of McAna EDI. In college my first computer program was punched out on cards without any hanging chads ;). Today my LinkedIn photo is like many real estate broker pictures, way out of date. This is not dissimilar to many business processes at way too many organizations. As requirements become more complex, software and integration tools became more departmentalized. The trouble comes when business processes do not evolve accordingly. As early as the 90's we saw integration tools made available. Prior to this everyone used application development tools for integration. Just like in the garage, every tool has its purpose and for very good reasons.
As a back drop for this article, integration tools historically satisfied 3 areas - Application to Application, Application to Web and B2B or EDI. Some software providers focused on one area or the other, but seldom all 3. The EDI industry has had its ups and downs with the market too. Integration is a big decision and doesn't seem like a must when money is tight. Hopefully though, when companies choose a hosted solution, they have fully understood the savings integration could have provided. The cost effectiveness integration brings can be exponential, not to mention the opportunities that it allows your company to grow using your existing staff.
Now to fully round out the EDI portfolio for those looking at integration, I wanted to touch on Advance Ship Notices and barcode requirements. We have supported a third-party product for the last 15 years that imports the orders (830/850s), as well as generates labels, packing slips, master bill of ladings AND exports the ASN and invoice back to your EDI translator. This has proved to be a great product to satisfy many scenarios for integrating this requirement with your company’s back-end system and a great example of integration doing its job.
Having been in integration for the last 21 years, I took an interest early on to know the products in the market. Even back in '95 I chose the pick of the litter. The product that I originally started with has become very pricey and gave me another opportunity to find another product at a much better price point. My goal in providing services has been to find best-of-breed. Finding an integration solution that solves all three areas has been a priority for me. So from migrations to warehousing to online shopping carts to EDI, I get excited about employing the tool of my choice because it is best-of-breed. It makes for enjoyable work rather than drudgery to get the job done.
It is easy to get caught into the hosted solution trap and end up with monthly expenses that can add up significantly, especially when adding Value Added Network charges to pass data between your trading partners. We have one account who could pay for the software in one year by just the VAN charges they pay! It is easy to be so busy running a business not be able to see how efficiencies can be well worth the transition. I have encouraged folks to embrace it early on so that the hosted expenses could be used to invest in an on-premise solution. Another reason integration doesn't always get embraced is because of acquisitions and high turnover. We supported Odom Tennessee Pride sausage for over 10 years before they got bought by Conagra. This happens all the time in the manufacturing/distribution industry. Another account has seen four IT directors in the last 15 years!
Based on the tick of the economy for next year, business is supposed to be great. Just as we do for New Years Eve, consider reflecting on what your company is spending to support a lack of integration even down to employee over-head, cash flow improvements and potential loss of business. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us veterans. We are passionate about our work and love sharing our knowledge to help your business to be successful. Learn from our one-on-one experience from past accounts and know that we have your back when you need it the most!
Click below to see how we helped Alimed, a medical supply company, optimize their EDI processing with state-of-the-art integration tools.