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Data Integration: A Buying Guide

Fri, Nov 17, 2017 @ 01:29 PM / by Shandra Locken posted in EDI considerations, EDI software, data integration, hosted EDI, EDI Consultant

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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.
 
Investment:
 
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.

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Comparing ROI for Integrated Electronic Trading

Fri, Nov 03, 2017 @ 08:30 AM / by Shandra Locken posted in data integration, supply chain, EDI ROI, hosted EDI, electronic data interchange, Web EDI, Managed Services, EDI

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Aurora EDI Alliance's Greatest Hits Volume 3

Fri, Sep 23, 2016 @ 08:30 AM / by Shandra Locken posted in EDI integration, EDI considerations, integration software, data integration, benefits of EDI, EDI basics, EDI compliant, EDI onboarding, hosted EDI, EDI history, vendor managed inventory

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Picture appears courtesy of Asja Boros. Third in our greatest hits tradition comes an updated Greatest Hits list.  This list represents the 20 most viewed blogs from the beginning.  We found it fascinating to see how this list has evolved since we posted our first and second greatest hits lists back in 2014 and 2015.  We appreciate all of our readers and invite you to let us know if there is a topic you'd like to see a blog on.  We will do our best to accommodate.  Without further ado, we give you, Aurora EDI Alliance's Greatest Hits Volume 3.  

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Aurora EDI Alliance's Greatest Hits Volume 2

Tue, Apr 14, 2015 @ 11:54 AM / by Shandra Locken posted in EDI integration, EDI considerations, integration software, data integration, benefits of EDI, EDI basics, EDI compliant, EDI onboarding, hosted EDI, EDI history, vendor managed inventory

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Picture appears courtesy of Steve Snodgrass.  Back in November of 2013, we posted our Greatest Hits Volume 1 blog and we got a great response.  And having just recently hit the major milestone of having done 100 blog articles, we thought we would celebrate by posting another "greatest hits" blog.  Our Greatest Hits Volume 2 list represents the second 10 most viewed blogs on our site.  Again, we were surprised by this list and we love seeing what topics our readers are looking for.  Enjoy!

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Top Five EDI Solution Blunders

Fri, Sep 07, 2012 @ 12:37 PM / by Shandra Locken posted in EDI integration, EDI Technology, EDI considerations, EDI Implementation, EDI basics, EDI provider, hosted EDI

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Being in the trenches every day and speaking to so many different people, I get to hear a lot about the EDI solution mistakes that have been made and what companies would do differently if they could go back.  Here is a short (certainly not exhaustive) list of the top five "I wish I knew then what I know now" insights.  If you have more to add, please feel free to comment!

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The Case for EDI Hosting

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 @ 11:35 AM / by Shandra Locken posted in EDI integration, EDI provider, hosted EDI

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With EDI there is often a gray area between where the simple Web EDI solution should end and the in-house traditional EDI software should begin.  And sometimes companies do not know where to draw that line.  They want EDI integration, but they don't necessarily have the staff to manage neither the EDI software nor the server hardware.  Then there's the issue of cost.  It's no secret that EDI software is expensive.  That gray area is the perfect opportunity to look at EDI hosting.

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When EDI Outsourcing Makes Sense for Your Business

Fri, Mar 09, 2012 @ 11:02 AM / by Shandra Locken posted in benefits of EDI, hosted EDI

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In the 4 years that I have been in this industry, I have seen a steady increase in companies moving toward EDI outsourcing.  What are the benefits of hosted EDI?  What are the potential pitfalls?  And when does EDI outsourcing make sense?  I will attempt to answer these questions with a brief review of this growing trend.

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Cloud Based EDI: What Does "In the Cloud" Really Mean?

Fri, Feb 10, 2012 @ 12:51 PM / by Shandra Locken posted in cloud computing, hosted EDI

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