Your EDI Resource

Change in EDI is the Only Constant

Posted by Roger Curtis on Fri, Jun 15, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

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Photo appears courtesy of Gabriel Villena.  The only thing that is constant in EDI is change.  Coming up on 30 years in EDI I’m observing lots of change in my customer’s EDI.

Companies are moving to new VAN or adopting AS2 after sometimes decades on one of the older VANS. Along with that EDI IDs sometimes change. AS2 security certificates usually expire after 2 years.EDI software and ERP systems are updated, often with new user interfaces.

EDI standards are changing and companies are adopting new processes, documents or even moving to XML (they were worrying about that in the 1990s). And now more than ever EDI coordinators and programmers are retiring or moving on to hang up their hats and do something else.

One thing is often missing – good record keeping!!! This is a topic we have blogged about many times and it cannot be overstated.  Twice in the past few weeks I’ve encountered a changing of the guard at a customer's site where someone calls in a panic, “What’s our EDI ID?” or, “Our AS2 certificate is expiring, where’s the original?”  Also, “Where are the EDI guidelines for abc company?”  and, “Who’s the EDI coordinator at our big customer? Suzy coordinator has retired!!!”

Now more than ever, with all the change happening in our industry it is incredibly important to have a record, spreadsheet, database or Cloud storage of your EDI records with IDs, EDI Guidelines, AS2 certificates, software versions and a good contact list of who to call for help!!!  If you cannot put this together, find a company who can help you document all of this information.  Critical business processes depend heavily on EDI running smoothly so your success depends on that.

Have a great summer everyone, and document, document, document to support YOUR changing of the guard.

Click below to download our free eBook, EDI 101.

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Tags: EDI solution, EDI, Integration, EDI Documentation, EDI Consultant, electronic data interchange, ERP integration

Prioritizing EDI Tasks

Posted by Shandra Locken on Fri, Mar 23, 2018 @ 05:10 PM

532076662_55fac597b9_z.jpgPhoto 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.

A month later, you get another email from Perfection Construction – oops, you never reviewed those new requirements and those revisions go live tomorrow!  Again, you stay late in the office missing your son’s baseball game because you have all these mapping changes to get in place and test in case you get orders tomorrow or have shipments.

What’s an EDI Analyst to do?  A couple of months ago, we had a blog on knowing your customer’s EDI guidelines (requirements) so now let’s talk about prioritizing workload and how those EDI requirements fit into that.

Maybe you’re the IT Director overseeing 5-10 people, maybe it’s just you and another person in the IT department, or maybe you’re on your own!  Regardless of your responsibility level, you first need to make a list of what needs to get done and delegate what you can.

To help you manage your EDI workload, here are five steps to prioritizing your tasks:

Make a list of all your EDI tasks:

  • Leave time for the unexpected issues.  This is probably the number one thing in EDI.  I cannot tell you how many times I think I’m going to work on a particular task, only to be blindsided by three emergencies.
  • Daily checking for errors, logs, etc. – do not forget this as a task.  Sometimes this might take ten minutes a day, sometimes two hours. Keep track of how long it takes you and give yourself an average a day allotment.
  • List all the open tasks that are current and put them in order of their due dates.

Identify Critical vs. Important vs. “when you can”:

  • Critical tasks might be chargeback issues, data failures, mapping modifications that prevent trading partners from receiving your documents correctly.
  • Important tasks might be EDI testing to be completed in the next month
  • When you can” tasks are things that need to be done, but do not fall into the other two categories.

Assess value

  • Following the above Critical tasks, getting chargebacks from a trading partner is negative revenue so it is in your best interest to take care of this immediately.
  • If you implement the trading partner for EDI, will it minimize keying orders into your ERP potentially with mistakes from human entry?  Do you have to email, fax or snail mail invoices?  That takes time and money.  Do you have to key online shipment information into a Web-portal?  If it’s lots of manual work with many orders, maybe this trading partner would be good to get on EDI ASAP.
  • If you do not get this trading partner up and running with EDI soon, could you lose their business to a competitor?

Order tasks by estimated effort.

  • Sometimes it is better to just get a quick task done right away.  Is it just a 5-minute mapping change?  It gets something off your list.  It’s good for your morale to have one less “thing” to do.  At least I feel that way.
  • Do you need to rewrite a big process of your ERP to fit in the needs of this trading partner?  Should you wait?  Or should you do it now because it potentially could be an issue for many more trading partners?

Know when to postpone or delegate to someone:

  • Does Emma from Customer Service keep asking you to check on the raw EDI data about a carrier code?  Why not give her the tools to do the job herself?  For example, in Liaison’s ECS software, you can set up a user to have read-only access. You could train her to go to Data Administrator and find the purchase order herself and look up the carrier code.
  • You do all the mapping, but can you train another person in the IT department?  Not only will you have another resource, you’ll also have a backup for emergencies, sick kids or vacations.  Do you really want to sign into the server when you’re supposed to be enjoying your vacation? 
  • Is this trading partner really important to get up and running?  Have sales do a review of their business with your company.  Do they do hundreds of orders a month or is it just a few a year?  Does the volume justify getting this done right now or can you postpone?  I had a client tell me a salesperson wanted this trading partner up on EDI ASAP. Come to find out in two years, they only had placed four orders worth $1,000.
  • Do you have an ERP upgrade coming up?  A server move?  Maybe all EDI changes and/or developments needs to be suspended until those situations are completed.
  • Lastly, have you reached out the trading partner to ask if you can have an extension?  I’ve found that most trading partners are willing to give you some more time.  They are usually understanding of time constraints.

Hopefully these suggestions will help you prioritize your EDI tasks.  The idea here is to work smarter rather than harder!  Of course, all these tasks can be handled by a good EDI service provider in a managed services scenario.  (wink wink)  Now get to your son’s baseball game…this might be the time he hits a home run. 

Click below to see how Wayfair leveraged the power of Delta/ECS and moved their EDI operations into the 21st century.

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Tags: business processes, Managed Services, EDI Consultant, EDI Documentation, Liaison Delta/ECS, electronic data interchange, EDI document, EDI onboarding

Comparing ROI for Integrated Electronic Trading

Posted by Shandra Locken on Fri, Nov 03, 2017 @ 08:30 AM

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Picture appears courtesy of GotCreditThis blog was written by Karen Blood of GraceBlood LLC.  Most retailers and e-tailers, and an increasing number of other businesses, will only purchase from suppliers who will do business via EDI or some other B2B electronic trading platform.  Not to worry:  this mandate can have tangible benefits for your company too. These benefits are both strategic and operational.  B2B electronic capability can strategically give you an advantage by strengthening your relationships with customers and vendors, improving loyalty and long-term alliances. Your “EDI-enabled” business opens the door to increased sales over the same channels – improving your bottom line.  In the process you become more competitive and able to thrive, directly affecting the value of your company.

Operationally, B2B electronic trading reduces both the time and human attention required to complete data entry and order processing. Your integrated capabilities deliver faster order processing with fewer manual errors and faster delivery times which increases customer satisfaction. Decreased operating expenses and improved accuracy in fulfillment and procurement can deliver profits and improve cash flow.

While strategic benefits can be difficult for which to calculate Return on Investment (ROI), we can easily do so for the operational benefits.  For suppliers, a decision on how best to approach a mandate to retain or win the customer’s business should include a careful consideration of ROI.

While many supply chain companies operate with a mix, let’s consider ROI using three approaches, one manual and two integrated:

  1. web-trading, where your orders are picked up, entered, acknowledged, and processed through to an invoice either manually or by visiting a website
  2. on premises integrated, where your routine orders appear in your order processing system and are processed through to invoice by an intermediate system that is located and operated within your business
  3. cloud-based managed services, also integrated and where your routine orders appear in your order processing system and are processed through to invoice through an intermediate system located in the cloud and is operating transparently

ROI may also be useful in evaluating a move from web-trading to one of the integrated approaches or between them.

Let’s look at an example that you can easily tailor and use. First, we calculate our own average cost to process an order. Add up the annual manual or non-integrated order processing expenses – from receipt of order, to entry, to acknowledgement, to shipping notice, to invoice – considering all personnel, overhead and equipment, and adding in any fees charged by customers for using their portal or for failing to comply with their preferred trading approach. Divide this annual total expense by the total number of sales orders processed during the year.  This becomes your cost to process an average order.

Aberdeen studies have estimated typical savings with end-to-end electronic processing of an order as compared to manual in the 60-75% range.   This example projects an average distributor for three customers integrating four documents over the end-to-end order to invoice process and trading 500 orders/month while conservatively projecting a 50% savings for integration over manual processing.

Click below to download a spreadsheet for use in calculating and comparing your own Return on Investment for B2B Electronic Trading. Only a few additional inputs are needed, and these are in yellow. Besides the Average Cost per Manually Processed Sales Order, count your top routine customers and determine the total # of orders you receive from them in a year. Typical transaction types of documents to integrate are the inbound Sales Order, the outbound Order Acknowledgement, Ship Notice & Invoice. Adjust If your partners don’t usually need all four.

This takes care of our Manual or Web Trading column and calculates our cost to process all the chosen customers’ orders end-to-end. For the On Premises column, we must consider our initial investments in software and systems, as well as ongoing operational and maintenance expenses such as staff and transmission fees. These may vary based on your ERP’s capabilities and version, and your customers’ requirements. Similarly, for cloud-based Managed Services, while there may be an initial investment to augment your ERP’s capabilities, the costs for translation mapping, transport and testing are included in the Managed Services Startup Investment while activity, monitoring, maintenance and management is included in the Managed Services monthly Activity.

GB ROI.jpg

While ROI will vary, we can see that in addition to the perceived strategic benefits of Integrating Electronic Trading, we also can simply demonstrate and quantify an operational Return on Investment that is unique to your company.  Of course, adding additional partners – a very wise step to take after initial investments – results in a multiplier effect and adds even more to your bottom line.

Click below for access to the handy spreadsheet illustrated above.

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Tags: EDI ROI, supply chain, electronic data interchange, EDI, data integration, Web EDI, hosted EDI, Managed Services

How EDI Helped Santa Deliver Presents This Christmas

Posted by Faith Lamprey on Fri, Feb 03, 2017 @ 01:05 PM

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAGdAAAAJGI0YTliMDg1LTg5NzMtNDA4MC04ZGVmLTdmNTA0YmVlYTcyMA.pngThis blog was written by Faith Lamprey, Aurora's President, and is reposted with permission from Providence College School of Business.  This past year, for the first time ever, online sales in the U.S. surpassed in store purchases. An annual survey byanalytics firm comScore and UPS found that U.S.consumers are buying more things online than instores.The survey, now in its fifth year, polled more than 5,000consumers who made at least two online purchases in a three-month period.

According to its results, shoppers now make 51% of their purchases online, compared to 48% in 2015 and 47% in 2014. Cyber Monday achieved a new record with $3.45 billion spent online, a 12.1 percent increase over 2015. This was the largest online sales day ever in the United States.

Most people have become very comfortable with, and even reliant on, buying products online. For many of us, it is now our preferred method of purchasing goods.

Are you aware of what is working 24/7 “behind the scenes” to streamline and automate the entire process? No, it is not Santa’s Workshop of Elves! It is a technology called Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) that has been deployed by companies for decades, long before the Internet became a household word.

In fact, EDI helps most people without any one even knowing it! Each time you visit a doctor, when she files a claim with your insurance company for payment, the request is transmitted electronically using EDI. When you use Tax Software to prepare your tax return and hit the Send key to transmit it to the IRS, the software converts your data into an EDI format and delivers it electronically in seconds.

EDI is used to communicate business transactions via documents in standard electronic formats with your Trading Partners. The data generated from each transaction is “mapped” to EDI data segments and then transmitted to the Trading Partner. When it is received by the Trading Partner, the EDI data segments are “mapped” to their application files and the data is processed accordingly. If set up properly, this can all be accomplished without any human intervention.

So how does EDI help with online ordering? Online Retailers rely on numerous suppliers to stock adequate inventories of the items they sell to you, the end consumer. They require their suppliers to ship the items directly to you. Even mighty Amazon does not stock all of their items for sale in their own warehouses.

Suppliers use electronic catalogs (in EDI we call them 832 Catalogs) to post their items online with product descriptions, pictures, and pricing information. This information can be used to populate the item information on web sites. The suppliers send their available inventories (via 846 Inventory Inquiries / Advices) to the online retailers so they can communicate, on their web sites, how many of each remains for sale.

When you place an order, the web site sends it to the supplier via an 850 Purchase Order with codes to indicate that the order should be drop-shipped directly to you. The supplier acknowledges to the retail web site system via an 855 Purchase Order Acknowledgement that the order was received, and that it can ship the item.

When your order is ready to ship, the supplier sends all the shipping information via an 856 Advanced Shipping Notice to the online retailer. It then sends you a “Your Order Has Shipped” e-mail message. The supplier also sends the online retailer a bill for the item shipped via an 810 Invoice.

There is even an EDI document, called an 820 Remittance Advice, that informs the supplier that payment has been made. It can also instruct the retailer’s bank to initiate a funds transfer to the supplier.

Faster than Santa can lay his finger aside of his nose, give a nod, and rise up the chimney, EDI can help to make sure that your orders are processed and delivered in time to place under the tree for Christmas morning.

Click below to read our eBook, EDI 101.

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Tags: EDI basics, supply chain, automation, JD Edwards, electronic data interchange

Purchase Order Confirmation Rates: Navigating Amazon’s New Chargebacks

Posted by Shandra Locken on Fri, Oct 07, 2016 @ 05:03 PM

3269874340_cdd9244475_z.jpgPhoto appears courtesy of Wendy.  This week's blog was written by Karen Blood from Aurora EDI Alliance partner, GraceBlood LLC out of Baltimore, MD.  Amazon recently announced a new type of chargeback that will initially impact Hardlines’ Vendor Central suppliers. While this might not seem to apply to you or your other trading relationships today, Amazon more and more (like Walmart in the past) is a bellwether when it comes to making demands on suppliers. The never ceasing effort to bring customers robust selection at competitive prices in a hurry puts the responsibility squarely on distributors and manufacturers to fill orders and maintain proper levels of inventory to support demand.

Your purchase order confirmation rate is the rate at which you accept or backorder the units ordered. Amazon is looking for your PO Acknowledgement (POA or EDI 855) to accept or backorder at least 80% of the quantity for each item they order. Failure to do so will result in a chargeback of 3% of the cost of goods sold for each item you are not either accepting or backordering.

You can reject fulfilling any item but the type of POA rejection code you use will either result in a chargeback (“soft” rejects) or may adversely impact Amazon’s ability to order the item in the future (“hard” rejects.) 

Here’s the list:

EDI POA Codes

 

Vendor Central Acknowledgment Codes

Hard/Soft Reject

AC

 

Accepted: In Stock

N/A

IB

 

Backordered

N/A

BA

 

Backordered: Not yet available

N/A

BX

 

Backordered: Not yet published

N/A

BR

 

Backordered: To be printed

N/A

IR

 

Cancelled: Temporarily out of stock

Soft reject

CA

 

Cancelled: Not yet available

Soft reject

CQ

 

Cancelled: Does not meet minimum

Soft reject

OS

 

Cancelled: Out of stock

Soft reject

IR

 

Cancelled: Temporarily out of stock

Soft reject

CK

 

Cancelled: Permanently out of stock

Hard reject

CX

 

Cancelled: Never published

Hard reject

CG

 

Cancelled: No geographic rights

Hard reject

CB

 

Cancelled: Not our publication

Hard reject

OP

 

Cancelled: Out of print

Hard reject

CP

 

Discontinued: Obsolete

Hard reject

KC

 

Cancelled: Considering reprint

Hard reject

R2

 

Cancelled: Invalid product information

Soft reject (but no chargeback)

R3

 

Cancelled: Temporarily suspend orders

Hard reject

Remember, an Excessive Backorder chargeback occurs if you POA backorder more than 10% of the units on Amazon POs in any given week. They will also assess the volume of products placed on backorder if you regularly enter a backorder code instead of fulfilling a purchase order. Skipping or issuing late POAs is not an option either due to other chargebacks like Unconfirmed PO Units and Late PO Acknowledgements. Fortunately, while Amazon is not famous for suppliers being able to discuss matters with actual Amazon personnel, with Vendor Central they do now have a much stronger platform in place for testing and self-monitoring, as well as many experienced and capable implementation partners like us.

To learn more about this new Amazon chargeback, sign in to Vendor Central and click Help. Then navigate to Vendor Operational Performance (Chargebacks) > Chargeback - problem with PO > About Purchase Order Confirmation Rate. Non-compliance notifications start this week with the new chargebacks scheduled for January 30, 2017.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, for doing business with Amazon or any truly customer-centric trading partner, continue to prepare your business for real-time, lights out trading, specifically:

  • Integrate EDI or other B2B transactions directly with your systems for Order Entry / Inventory / Fulfillment
  • Adhere to DWIAD “A Day’s Work In A Day” for realizing all other aspects of transactional activity in your systems
  • Implement daily, accurate Inventory Advice Feeds like EDI 846s while incorporating reasonable calculations for safety stock
  • Involve operations and sales to relentlessly incorporate processes and policies that support eliminating Chargebacks
  • Leverage your hard-won learnings and hard-spent initial investments across the organization with as many partners as possible

Click below to read our eBook EDI 101.

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Tags: EDI ROI, chargebacks, EDI integration, amazon, electronic data interchange, EDI document, supply chain

Why Your EDI Processes Should Be Automated

Posted by Faith Lamprey on Fri, Aug 26, 2016 @ 07:06 PM

16352900150_7cf298646d_z_1.jpgPhoto appears courtesy of Phill Dolby.  I spend a lot of time each summer trying to streamline and automate as many of our processes and procedures as I can.  It saves time and, if done correctly, makes our data more accurate and timely.  I feel taking the time to do this is well worth the effort and it makes us more profitable in the long run as it frees me up to do other things.

When doing EDI work for a customer we are often surprised at how manual their end-to-end EDI processes are.  Let's start at the beginning of an inbound process, retrieving documents via a VAN, AS2 or FTP.  All the EDI software and servers I have ever worked with allow you to schedule these jobs.  In addition, the software can automatically run the map and push the data to the ERP interface files.  We have seen EDI Coordinators do these steps manually so they can "monitor" the process for errors.  Today's EDI software can be set up to alert users if there are errors on any documents and pull them aside while continuing to process the other documents.  Your objective should not be to examine every document, but to deal just with the exceptions.  Automation takes the human error out of the equation, providing a more accurate processing of the documents.

Most modern ERP packages have an EDI Interface that, If configured properly, can produce a data file that can be used as input into an EDI mapper to create the appropriate outbound EDI document.  Again, all of this can usually be totally automated, including sending out files via VAN, AS2 or FTP.

And then there is the task of purging old documents.  If this is a manual task, it is one of those things that is easy to put off with the good intentions of doing it later.  When you finally get around to it, the process takes an inordinate mount of time to complete and you are then forever leery of running it again.  We always recommend that people set up automatic purging.  If they ask us to help them with that we ask them how long they want to keep each type of document and then set the EDI software to flag documents for purging according to that agreed upon purge policy.  Then we set the purge to run on a weekly basis (usually over a weekend).  This keeps the time needed to run the purge to a manageable amount.  If it runs over the weekend along with other end of week jobs, most people forget it is even being done.  Not running the purge on a regular basis can cause major problems.  This year a customer who did not automate the purge and never had time to run it manually actually ran short of disk space!   Then they were forced to run it and, of course, it took an entire weekend to complete. Running it on a regular basis also keeps the amount of documents in your transaction center smaller, making all of your transaction inquiries and reports run faster.

Most EDI software allows "views" of the mailbox data, allowing you to set up filters to only view the documents that are in error or did not come in or go out as expected.  Reviewing all of the documents for an entire day looking for these kinds of errors is a waste of time, not to mention so boring that you may miss a document in error as your mind has wandered off.  It is important to monitor for errors or disruptions in flow as no system runs perfectly 24/7 with 100% perfect data.  Just do this in the most efficient way possible so you are only dealing with the documents that have issues, not the documents that came in and went out fine.

Another effort well worth your time is to document what is needed to be set up in your ERP system when you add a new Trading Partner and their documents.  In fact, we did a blog recently on this very topic.  This last summer there has been turnover at many of our customers with little or no training of the new person handling EDI.  While we can make any needed changes to a map and know quite a few ERP systems very well, we do not know all of them.  Many times the "EDI" person also handled things in their ERP system, like setting the appropriate fields on a customer record for EDI and handling UCC-128 (GS1-128) shipping label creation.   Having documentation covering what to do when adding a new Trading Partner is invaluable to a new person in that position.  If the day-to-day EDI process is automated, at least that should run smoothly even if there is a new person in charge.

Click below to watch a video on thinking about EDI "outside the box."

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Tags: AS2, EDI ROI, automation, EDI document, EDI software, EDI integration, electronic data interchange, data integration, ERP integration

27 Years of EDI

Posted by Roger Curtis on Fri, Jul 15, 2016 @ 02:09 PM

Telex_machine_ASR-32.jpgI started my journey with EDI (electronic data interchange) 27 years ago working on Telex machines, yes the things of ticker tape parades. My assignment, through a relation with Western Union, was to connect pre-internet, pre-eMail, and even pre-FAX computers, still relatively uncommon compared to today, to the Telex network.  The end game was to allow companies to send domestic and international registered messages easily, without using the cumbersome, slow and heavy ticker tape driven iron Telex machines.

Think a manual typewriter on steroids.  For those of you who remember modems (300 Baud was the slowest average, 1200 Baud was fast, 56K was lightning fast), Telex machines ran at a 50 Baud snail's pace. 

Because of my "expertise" in communications I started to get calls in the late ‘80s to help get clunky, complex Bisync (Bisycronous) modems implemented for various companies. Bisync modems were an IBM breed necessary to communicate with the mainframes of the day - not dissimilar to dialing into AOL for internet access a few years later.  Most of us will never forget that still familiar, "You've Got Mail!"

Anyway it seems there was a new big guy in town (in the business world) running the show called Walmart.  Walmart ran on mainframes with banks of modems.  You can picture them just like the image of a Google or AT&T data center today, to inexpensively connect in suppliers to keep prices low - their hallmark.  Walmart, certainly an EDI trendsetter, employed EDI originally developed for the military logistics of the 1948 Berlin Airlift (see this blog for more on this) and later the auto industry where large amounts of data had to be passed via the mollasses modems of the day.  EDI can code and pass a large amount of information in a very small message size, but that’s a story for another day.

So Walmart really drove the expansion of EDI in the retail industry starting with just EDI 850 POs, EDI 810 Invoices and the dreaded "transaction set from hell," the EDI 856 ASN (advance shipping notice). Side note: the EDI 837 Health Care Claims documents of today easily take the cake for complexity.

EDI today has thrived with perhaps over a hundred transaction sets and has now expanded into XML and Web Service transactions where systems talk to each other automatically.  Modern EDI tools can transform data from any-to-any (format that is) and makes the job of data integration specialists that much easier and FUN if you're techy geeks like us. 

But thinking about how far the industry has come kinda makes you want to just sit back with a cup of coffee (or wine?) and remember the old days.

Click below to read a whitepaper on EDI.

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Tags: technology, EDI history, EDI document, electronic data interchange, EDI Technology

On-Premise, Hosted or Web-Based EDI – Which is the Right Fit?

Posted by Shandra Locken on Thu, Jul 02, 2015 @ 12:16 PM

EDI ChoicesPhoto appears courtesy of Dean Hochman.  This week's blog was written by Art Douglas.  Millenia ago, Og went into his cave looking for his deer-antler hatchet.  But alas, he was unable to find it, for he had many belongings, and a very small cave.  After hours of searching, the hatchet was discovered.  Later, Og pondered how he could store the hatchet where it would be easier to find.  At that moment, Og remembered his friend, Kow, who had a very large cave with many chambers.  The two friends struck a deal.  Kow would store Og’s weapons in one of his many chambers, so when Og needed them, he didn’t have to search for them in his own cluttered cave, he knew he could find them in Kow’s cave.  Moreover, should Og wish to share his weapons with others in the community, he only had to notify Kow of the fact, and Kow would share Og’s stuff with whomever Og has allowed.

In this way, cloud storage was born.

We have known The Cloud by different names.  When I was first in the industry, we called it Time Sharing.  More recently we have used the term, Hosted.  Regardless, The Cloud is pretty much a euphemism for Somebody Else’s Computer.

The purpose of this blog is to help you decide if EDI in the cloud is the best choice for your operation, or is there some other configuration that will serve you better.

Let’s begin by looking at the various configurations:

  • On-premise EDI.  Your company owns the hardware and software used to run EDI in-house.

  • Hosted EDI Solution.  Another company has the EDI system running on hardware at their own site, and the platform may be shared with other clients of the host, each client’s data kept separate from the others.

  • Web-based EDI.  Another company has a web site that allows you to read and create EDI documents, which are translated to and from EDI, and received from or sent to your Trading Partners.

Let’s look at three key aspects of each, to determine which model is best for us, or our clients.

  • Cost – both initial and on-going.

  • Expertise & Support

  • Volume

The cost of acquisition of the hardware and software to support in in-house EDI system can vary widely, from a few thousand dollars, to hundreds of thousands, depending on the decisions you make.  Cost is not always a predictor of success, in this case.  And big names don’t always perform best.  When calculating the cost, make sure you include the cost of the database software, networking, the hardware platform, and ongoing support in addition to the initial and continuing cost of the EDI software.  Also, make sure you understand what the initial cost includes, in terms of licenses, scalability, etc., and what expansion might cost you in the future.

For a hosted solution, there should be virtually no acquisition costs.  But expect to pay consultant’s rates for map development.

For Web-based EDI, you will probably not directly interface your application with the EDI system.  Instead, you will re-key all inbound and outbound data into the application, or the Web EDI system.  You may be charged for each data transaction, and for map development for each trading partner.

To implement and effectively utilize your EDI system, someone will have to configure it and create and maintain the mapping and business processes that are required in every EDI system.  For an in-house system, you will need to either hire somebody, or contract with an expert to take care of these tasks. You will also want on-going support on staff, or quickly available.  For a hosted system, or a Web-based system, the host should provide expert help with mapping, and configuration, plus support at a contracted rate.  The hosted cloud solution undoubtedly has staff skilled in many areas, but they may also be engaged helping other clients.

When selecting between the hosted or in-house solution, volume should be considered in terms of the capacity of each site to process the peak number of transactions in a timely manner.  Does the hosted solution have the throughput and storage capacity to handle your traffic level, as well as all the other customers the host services?  Does your own operation wish to invest the money to put together a big enough system to handle your volume?  On the other end of the spectrum, how many transactions do you handle in a day?  A week?  A month?  Are there few enough that the savings of using a web-based service will outweigh the cost of implementing a fully integrated EDI solution?

Og’s solution won’t work for everybody.  And today’s cloud has many features that Kow could never supply.  Carefully consider these, as well as other questions before committing to purchase EDI software, trust your data to somebody else, or step back from a full system for the advantage of the lower entry cost of Web EDI.

Art Douglas has been an independent consultant since 1983, and has been implementing EDI solutions around the world for over 15 years.

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Tags: EDI integration, EDI Technology, EDI considerations, EDI software, data integration, benefits of EDI, EDI Implementation, EDI basics, EDI compliant, cloud, EDI expense, EDI document, ERP integration, electronic data interchange

GraceBlood LLC Joins the Aurora EDI Alliance

Posted by Shandra Locken on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 @ 11:44 AM


GB logo (2)We are excited to announce that GraceBlood LLC, out of Baltimore, MD, has joined the Aurora EDI Alliance!  GraceBlood is the seventh company to join the Alliance since its inception in the fall of 2011.  We had the opportunity to get to know this group when we all met up in Santa Barbara last fall and we are super excited to have them join us.  With the addition of GraceBlood, we now have a diverse and extensive portfolio of ERP packages we can integrate with, making the Aurora EDI Alliance a powerful ally for small, medium and large businesses alike.

After decades of experience leading her mid-Atlantic based company in representing and implementing ERP, warehouse management and EDI systems, Karen Blood joined with Amy Grace to build a team of experienced industry associates to deliver the specialized B2B/EDI services the supply chain needs to thrive.

Since 2003 GraceBlood has focused exclusively on helping growing distributors, manufacturers and other supply chain clients smoothly and efficiently trade business transactions. Working in multiple industries – automotive, consumer, grocery, health, industrial, logistics and research – GraceBlood delivers consulting and integration services and software; on-premise, hosted or hybrid; supported or managed.

After outgrowing many other platforms, since 2009 GraceBlood has proudly used and represented the offerings of Liaison Technologies, such as Delta/ECS and the Liaison Exchange Network (formerly NuBridges) VAN (Value-Added-Network).  GraceBlood skillfully builds integration solutions for clients across North America running ERPs such as Microsoft Dynamics’ AX & NAV, Infor’s SXe, FACTS & TakeStock, QuickBooks, NetSuite and SAP.

GraceBlood’s Net Promoter Score® has been over 90% for three years, underlying the importance of their vision, “Our clients, our associates and GraceBlood profit from our clients’ ability to strategically embrace B2B electronic transactions and to enthusiastically say 'Yes!' when presented with new challenges in their trading partner relationships.”

Please join us in welcoming Amy, Karen and their team of solution architects to our Alliance family!

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Tags: EDI integration, EDI Technology, e-commerce, integration software, EDI software, data integration, EDI provider, enterprise resource planning, ERP integration, electronic data interchange, Liaison Delta/ECS

Aurora Team Biography Series: David Aird

Posted by Shandra Locken on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 @ 11:03 AM

David AirdNext up on our biography series is David Aird, one of Aurora's spectacular Tech Support Specialists.  As a long time employee, David has been through many changes as the company has evolved.  One thing that has never changed though is how much our clients rely on him and insist that ONLY David can help them.  It's tough to be that popular!  

David took an interesting journey to find his way into the EDI industry.  The story begins in Texas, where he was happily running a successful pawnshop.  His wife Sandy however, had a desire to move out of Texas.  She had suggested several places that interested her, but David did not share the same interest in relocating.  It wasn’t until they spent a week in Reno, that he found himself saying that he could see himself living in Reno.  Reno will do that to you.  It's really not the small gambling town people assume.  It's a lovely community with a thriving art scene, great restaurants, beautiful weather and outdoor activities abound.  They came back the following year to ski again and to gauge the employment opportunities in the pawnshop field.  He found himself with several job offers and they made the move to Reno that following summer. 

After the arrival of their two children (Amanda and Jack), David was finding it difficult to put in the long hours required at the pawnshop.  Realizing that he needed to be home more with his family, he decided to start down a new career path.  He answered an ad for EDI Support, Inc. (ESI), which was the previous name before Aurora Technologies and ESI merged in 2010, and decided to make the jump into a new job and a new career.  Even though this was a new field for David, he found the work interesting and challenging.  Learning to spell EDI is no easy feat as I remember what a huge help to me he was when I was learning to spell it! 

When David isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his busy family.  He also enjoys starting projects of all kinds.  Like many of us, he doesn’t always finish all of the projects he starts.  Just ask Sandy about that.  Currently, he is working on improving his golf game and he is also trying to find time to re-ignite his passion for home brewing.

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Tags: EDI provider, EDI history, electronic data interchange