Photo appears courtesy of Tom Childers. This blog was written by Art Douglas from the Aurora EDI Alliance. As an EDI consultant, every day I search for new clients. Yesterday I once again saw an ad that had frequently presented itself over the past six months. It advertised for an EDI SPECIALIST. In the ad, it described the job as a customer service position, and one of the requirements was, “Must be experienced in entering the EDI orders.”
This resonated with me because over the past 20 years, I have talked to scores of potential clients who seemed to misunderstand the power of EDI. The idea that someone is “entering EDI orders” is just one indication that a company may be missing the true value of their EDI investment.
In a fully integrated EDI environment, incoming orders appear in the seller’s sales system without intervention. I like to call it MAGIC! It’s not. It’s the result of planning, negotiation, and know-how combined with great software. If done right, it could be easily mistaken for MAGIC however. Firms without this MAGIC may actually need to “enter EDI orders” into their software package. These orders are often sent by EDI capable companies, and Customer Service Representatives (CSRs) at the selling company must retrieve them online, and transcribe them from a web form into their application. This approach saves the investment in software and implementation of true EDI capability, but is a continuous drain on the resources of the firm.
Other firms may take the middle ground, using third-party EDI translation. These third-party services will receive EDI orders on behalf of their clients and translate them into formats that the client’s software can use to import orders. The difficulty I’ve found with this kind of arrangement is smaller companies have to compete for their service bureau’s resources with much larger clients. Moreover, they miss out on all the additional capabilities that come with a sophisticated EDI package.
There is good news. EDI software doesn’t have to be as expensive as it once was. It is not as complex as it once was. And it can now work with many more application packages than in the past. A good EDI software package should be able to move data securely over the internet, deposit transaction data into databases or interface files, and retrieve application data from databases or interface files for transmission. These actions can be done on schedule, or on demand. Today’s EDI software should handle Managed File Transfer (MFT), Extract – Transform – Load (ETL), Enterprise Application Interface (EAI) in addition to EDI. It should be able to track data flow, track changes to transformation maps, and provide an audit trail of what has taken place.
If you are working for your EDI capability, struggling with a clunky EDI interface, expecting CSRs to “enter the EDI orders,” or depending on a third-party service to do what’s best for your company’s future, consider stepping up to a fully integrated, modern EDI solution. Get EDI working for you.