Photo appears courtesy of Steve Bowbrick. This blog article was written by Jim Gonzalez of EDI Support LLC, an EDI Alliance partner. I am constantly looking for ways to keep up with everything that is going on with the various ERP software packages out there. Although I specialize in Sage products, I like to share information with clients and peers on all things ERP that I happen to come across. One of the easiest ways to do this is through Twitter feeds. They are quick blurbs that I can choose to read or ignore, and most contain links to more detailed articles. As a society there is such a demand to stay informed in real-time and Twitter is by far the best tool for that. You will hear from consultants, VARs and actual users that work with these ERP solutions on a daily basis. Here are the top 5 Twitter feeds (not in any particular order) that I follow to stay abreast of ERP news and information...enjoy!
Photo appears courtesy of Dawn. This blog was written by Art Douglas, a member of the EDI Alliance. What is the opposite of "KISS"? The answer of course, is Rube Goldberg. For those of you who have no idea what I just posited, allow me to explain. "KISS" is an acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid. Now if you are sensitive, please don’t get uncomfortable about the "Stupid" part. It merely allows us to use "KISS," thereby making it memorable. If you prefer, think of it as Keep It Super Simple. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist who delighted readers by drawing overly-complicated mechanical machines that accomplished simple tasks. Think Mousetrap game.
As you may have heard, GraceBlood LLC acquired Aurora Technologies back in October of this year. We will now be revisiting our Biography Series to include GraceBlood's amazing team of consultants and today we are featuring Lisa Crosley. Lisa has been an EDI consultant with GraceBlood for 12 years. She initially worked with GraceBlood as a client EDI coordinator so when her company closed their US distribution operation, Karen and AMY wasted no time in bringing Lisa on board.
Photo appears courtesy of Newtown grafitti. This blog was written by Art Douglas, member of the Aurora EDI Alliance. We have all heard some of the sayings of that wise American philosopher, Lawrence Peter Berra, aka Yogi. “It isn’t over ‘til it’s over,” and “You can observe a lot just by watching.” But my all-time favorite is, “Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical.”
Yogi’s sayings make you think, and it made me think of a corollary to his math-challenged quote that is every bit as true: “EDI is 90% political, and the other half is technical.” Think about it. Once you’ve learned the basics of the technical part of EDI, nearly every challenge is political in nature. The CEO wants to know if EDI is so great that it runs automatically, why does he need to budget for a staff of even one to babysit it? Political. Here’s one I’m dealing with right now. The connectivity team at a giant health plan will only talk to one person at each of their trading partners firms. Technical? Nope, political. A new CIO comes in when the company is acquired and announces that he has a buddy who can program a custom EDI system so they don’t have to pay the annual maintenance on it. Definitely political. Another client brought in an EDI expert who helped them put together requirements for their new EDI system. Together they produced an RFQ and received several responses. Once all the responses were received, the managers got together and decided to purchase the most expensive package. The architect was not consulted. After two years, they abandoned that package and purchased the least expensive package. Ten years later, they’re still using it. Political? You think?
Photo appears courtesy of R/DV/RS. This blog was written by Kristen Kearns, Aurora's EDI Manager. Ping! You hear your email and there’s another one of those “New Requirements” emails from one of your trading partners, Perfection Construction. Yeah, yeah, I’ll look at it later. You never get to it because you have Evan in Sales breathing down your neck about getting ABC Company up and running for EDI ASAP so they can place orders. Wait a minute! Did Evan put you in contact with ABC Company’s EDI department to get the specs? Do we even know if we can do all of their documents and if we can meet their requirements? Here comes Mary Jane from Accounts Receivable– what does she want? She needs you to research Best Hardware as they are not paying their invoices. Let me work on that now before the CFO starts yelling about lack of payments.
Photo appears courtesy of Nikos Koutoulas. And now we revisit a blog we did a few years ago for some holiday fun! This is our take on'Twas the Night Before Christmas...with sincere apologies to the original author, Clement Clarke Moore.
This blog was written by Jim Gonzalez. Over the last 20 years I have been asked a lot of questions by customers and fellow peers about data integration. What I have found is that there are five questions that need to be answered and these are in no particular order. Of course, these questions can and often do lead to new questions. But if you can answer the following initial questions, you will may just stop going in circles and start on a path to success.
File Formats/Layouts to be Integrated:
Are you looking to deal with EDI, XML, CSV, Pipe delimited etc..? A lot of times you will just need to start off handling one format based on your initial engagement. It could be an internal engagement between one department or another. It could be an engagement between your company and a buyer. As I said earlier answering one question can lead into a lot of other questions. Please try to keep your focus on what is right in front of you or upcoming in the next couple of months, not what could be many years away. Long term goals need to be kept in mind while constructing a solution, but it’s easy to get sidetracked so it’s important to prioritize: now, one year from now, five years from now, etc.
How much can you afford to spend? Truly analyze that question and know your answer. You will need to have your software costs locked down and not variable. A huge piece that most people don’t take into full consideration is professional services. Professional services covers billable hours for software installation, map development, consulting and training. Don’t allow a company or consultant to give you a range of hours they don’t commit too. If you allow them to change the hour range when there is no increase in workload it can ruin the entire project. All companies and individuals need to be held accountable to the Statement of Work. You can’t change your mind and then expect the consultants to not change the hours required. Just as a consultant can’t change the hours required to complete a project because they didn’t account for all of your upfront requirements.
ROI (Return on Investment):
How many work hours are you saving? This can be hard to quantify but see this blog for more info on that. Also, would you be increasing revenue with customers? You have to factor in every value-add that data integration will bring. If you can pull it all together and effectively present to the upper level management, it will further your cause and help get your project approved. The more headaches that can be resolved and the less human intervention required will allow your company to accomplish its business goals.
Goals to be accomplished:
Was this mandated by a customer to continue doing business by using EDI or another format? Are you simply doing this to appease a disgruntled employee? Did upper level management hear of this new thing while at the latest conference? No matter how it came about, the bottom line is that you need to move forward with data integration. Keep a record of the successes you have accomplished as each process gets done. It will allow for a time line of events and can lead to more opportunities for data integration that you never even considered. I have implemented many systems over the years and resolved issues for clients who didn’t realize the issues existed.
On Premise or Hosted:
Can your current network handle the data integration? Do you need to purchase additional hardware? Do you have the staff to handle the support? How do you feel about another company hosting the hardware and software for you? Have you weighed the costs? The question of whether you’re better off with hosted or on-premise never has an easy answer and you will find everyone has an opinion. This usually is all preference based. My preference is to control the hardware and software in house. It is an investment that will pay off in the long run. Never allow yourself to get stuck in a short term solution that can’t grow with your organization.
My conclusion for all of this, is that you need to know what you want or at least have an idea. If you can come up with answers to the above questions, with proper guidance you will be able to construct an appropriate solution to meet your business objectives. Since you are reading this, rest assured you have found yourself the right group of partners that you can trust. A good consultant can bring his or her years of knowledge and experience to help you succeed. When I finish an implementation I feel an accomplishment that is unmatched. Reach out and let us know the pitfalls you have going on with your company! Take advantage of our no cost, no obligation consultation.
We are excited to announce that we have a new addition to the Aurora EDI Alliance. Jim Gonzalez, a 20 year EDI veteran, has joined the gang as an EDI consultant and yet again expanded our ever growing knowledge base of expertise on EDI and data integration. Jim joins us from the Philadelphia area and I recently had the chance to get to know him a little for the purpose of this article.