Your EDI Resource

Evolution of Data and the Data Engineer

Posted by Shandra Locken on Wed, Jan 16, 2019 @ 08:30 AM

bigstock-Business-Team-Discussion-Team--119237426-1This blog is being reprinted with permission from OpenText + Liaison Technologies.  Article was written by Ehi Binitie. In the age of big data, most people understand the importance of gathering and using data to make decisions, drive business processes and understand what is happening throughout the entire enterprise. They know that people with very specific skills are essential to effectively capturing, managing and analyzing data for use, but the roles within the data team are not well understood – especially mine.

I am a data engineer. I work mostly behind the scenes to design and build the objects on the integration platform that house the data that must be captured, stored and made accessible to users. The architecture that I develop allows data analysts to access information in specific ways to analyze, create reports and provide insights that are used to drive business decisions. Simply described – data engineers are the designers, builders and managers of the information or “big data” infrastructure.

The role of data engineer has changed over the years. Before cloud computing was widely adopted as a solution for integration, information was housed in data warehouses that were difficult, time-consuming and expensive to expand when the business’ data needs changed. That began to change in the late 1990s when the concept of cloud computing expanded.

I joined Liaison, now part of OpenText, 14 years ago and was excited to be part of an innovative approach to data integration and management. By offering a cloud-based integration platform and a team of data experts to build and manage the service, we were offering a scalability and flexibility that met the data management challenges faced by our customers. Our capabilities to provide the same flexibility have expanded as we use new tools to manage the growing number of complex data sources.

One change that I’ve noticed is acceptance of “the cloud.” When Liaison first approached companies, there was a concern about the ease of accessing data once it moved offsite, the security of data and the reliability of the concept. Today, the cloud is part of everyone’s life, so these concerns no longer keep companies from looking at a cloud-based platform for their needs.

Another significant change in the way that data is viewed is the move from data-driven to data-centric. When I build a data-centric architecture, I can assure the business that the data will always be there in one location for multiple, task-specific applications to access. Applications can come and go as needed, but the data is always there. This future-proofs the company’s investment in the platform by providing the opportunity to add new capabilities as needed, without investing in a new way to collect or manage data.

Data engineers build the pipelines that transform and connect data from a myriad of sources – sensors, connected devices, social media and legacy systems – and ensure that the data is available in real- or near real-time to support insights that enable companies to effectively compete in their industry. Of course, we don’t just support the collection of data – we make sure that all users can access it regardless of the department, geographical location or application they are using to perform their analysis.

While all members of the data team are critical (in fact, I often say that data science is a team sport), I am biased toward my role.  Data engineers make sure that information is always available in whatever format to any user to help the company be competitive and successful.

Why not contact GraceBlood and find out about our Managed Services approach to "cloud" EDI services, as well as a new EDI visibility tool?  We work behind the scenes to allow you to do what you do best to maintain and build your competitive advantage without getting bogged down in the intricacies of day-to-day EDI.

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Tags: cloud, liaison technologies, big data analytics, data transformation, Managed Services

EDI Architecture - Keep It Super Simple

Posted by Shandra Locken on Fri, Dec 28, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

EDI ArchitecturePhoto appears courtesy of DawnThis 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 an EDI consultant, I sometimes find elegantly simple architecture, with names that are descriptive, processes that make sense, and sometimes even comments that explain what is going on.  Love it when that happens.  However, more often I find what looks like Rube Goldberg had a hand in the development of a complex solution.

My current client has thousands of files that go into and out of their systems.  These files all contain sensitive data which can be moved securely and efficiently using methods like SFTP or ASx, yet major vendors are using email notification, securely emailed passwords, etc. What happens if the person you send the email to is no longer with the firm, or out on leave?  Aha, you send the emails to the workgroup!  Which person in the group will manually transfer the data? You’ll need an email response. If you don’t get a response, then what? 

So, we are building a database listing every file we transfer, both as a skeleton telling us what the type of data, the trading partner, the file naming convention, frequency, type data connection, etc., and the actual log of the file transfer.  This is in addition to the logging provided by our E-Commerce Suite.  Even manually acquired data is logged – manually – until we convince those trading partners to automate.

By going through the exercise of building this database, we are uncovering Rube Goldberg type data flows and processes that we are able to document and simplify in-house.  And we’re creating a place where developers can go to find answers to questions like “When did we receive the last XYZ file?” or “Where is the GILF file being written?”

Here are some suggestions for Keeping It Simple:

  • Develop naming conventions – and stick with them. Use them for programs, files, folders, servers, etc.
  • Develop reusable software pieces that accomplish single tasks, like log the reception of a file.
  • Develop forms for communicating standard information like trading partner information, and file transfer information.
  • Make sure you have management buy-in from I.T. as well as your business customers.
  • Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Remember that a kiss is nice, but a rewarding relationship requires many kisses over time.
  • If there is not a way to get around a complex design, document everything.

Best of luck to you. And remember, Keep It Super Simple!

Click below to read our case study about how we helped Quibids.com to optimize and streamline their EDI processing:

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Tags: EDI architecture, e-commerce, EDI, EDI Consultant

'Twas the Night Before Christmas: An EDI Fairytale

Posted by Shandra Locken on Mon, Dec 24, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

"Twas the Night Before Christmas EDI Fairytale

Photo appears courtesy of Thad Zajdowicz.  This week, for a little #flashbackfriday, we are reprinting our fun takeoff on 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  Just a little holiday humor...with sincere apologies to the original author, Clement Clarke Moore.

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the store not a PO was issued, and 860s no more. 

RFID tags hung by receiving dock with care, in hopes that the trucks soon would be there.

The clerks were all nestled at registers and stations, while visions of UPC codes danced across nations.

With the EDI manager and I in our caps, we had just settled down for 852 recaps.

When inside the server room there arose such a clatter, we ran from the cubicle to see what was the matter.

And away to that freezing room I flew like a flash, right through the door and PVC curtains in a dash.

The CFL bulb on the copy paper supply gave the lustre of mid-day to equipment I spied.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver so lively and merry, I knew in a moment it must be the X12 fairy.

More rapid than EDI his courses they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name.

"Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen!  On Comet, on Cupid, on Donner and Blitzen! 

To the top of the server, to the top of the wall!  Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

His eyes how they twinkled, his dimples how merry!  His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up tight like a bow.  His beard was as white as the copy paper below.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work, and fixed the EDI errors without a smirk.

He then laid his finger on the side of his nose, and giving a nod, up the cooling system he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, and to his team gave a grin, and away they flew like a 997 after an 810 came in.

But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight, "Happy holidays from EDI Alliance and to all a good night!"

The EDI Alliance wishes you and yours a wonderful holiday and happy new year.

If you're looking for some insight into your ROI for your integrated EDI system, check out the below worksheet and accompanying explanation here.

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Tags: EDI, X12, EDI manager, RFID tagging, rfid

EDI Alliance Biography Series: Lisa Crosley

Posted by Shandra Locken on Tue, Dec 11, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

LisaNewmanCrosley (2)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.

Lisa grew up in a suburban area halfway between Washington DC and Baltimore.  After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Virginia, she began working in the wholesale business.  Like many of us, EDI just fell into her lap.  All these years later, now an experienced EDI and B2B consultant, she loves to continue to hone her skills and learn new tricks.  Professionally, Lisa is known for her strong problem-solving skills and her experience working with various communication channels. She loves to think outside the box when tackling a challenge and remembers how much she enjoyed learning how to map an EDI document from an Excel file.  As for the clients, they enjoy working with Lisa because of her warm and friendly nature.  

On the personal side, she has been married for 20 years and is raising three children, two of whom are twins.  Still in Virginia, she volunteers her time to local parks, a resource she believes to be very valuable to children, and together with her husband has even renovated an old farmhouse!  Other times you can also find her racing canoes in New York, a 40-year tradition in her family, and has even won first place several times. Another hobby of Lisa's is photography - she loves to capture all of the adventures she has with her family from camping to kayaking and everything in between.  On her bucket list is to learn more about the art of photo taking.  When asked how she wants to be remembered, her response was, "...someone who is kind and compassionate, and finds happiness in small things." 

Click below to watch a video on how thinking "outside the box" can make you a rock star at your organization:

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Tags: AS2, EDI, electronic data interchange, EDI Consultant, B2B

Why is EDI Still Around?

Posted by Roger Curtis on Fri, Nov 02, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

14884844251_4fbbf3479e_zPhoto appears courtesy of www.twin-loc.fr.  Welcome to our 200th blog post!  As I think about EDI through the years, I remember sometime during the early 1990’s taking a class on the structure and workings of XML. XML was all the rage and was supposed to replace EDI at any moment!!! It’s 20+ years later and yes, XML is widely adopted now in web service applications where systems talk to each other, but it’s really still the wild west with XML XSDs (XML Schema definitions) often inaccurate.  And it involves a lot of back and forth with trading partners saying, “…oh, hard code this, and that XML element loop can be executed multiple times, not the once limitation in the XSD, etc. etc. etc.”  Implementing XML with a new trading partner or transaction often feels like black magic to get it all working correctly, and that’s in the best of circumstances – usually it’s teams of technical and business staff on endless conference calls just to get it right.  Did XML replace EDI?  No.

So why is EDI still around and so widely adopted? It’s structure man, pure structure.

For decades volunteers from all industries have gone to quarterly ANSI X12 meetings all around the country to sit around in hotel conference rooms (undoubtedly with pastries and coffee abound plus fruit for the healthy ones) to hash out the EDI standards we all use. See this past blog on the history of EDI.  Still in use today are Versions 4010 for Y2K, 5010-5030 for the Walmart crowd, 6010 and now into the 7010-7030 to do who knows what.  Widely used documents include the 850 PO, 810 Invoice, 856 ASN, 875 and 880 Grocery documents, 940 Warehouse Ship Order series, 210 Motor Freight invoice and 110 series for the Air freight Jetsetters.  All these transactions and hundreds more are precisely defined down to the Inch, Foot, LB, KG, EA, CA (case) and PC (piece).

It’s hard to find a business transaction which can’t be exactly defined by one of the EDI X12 standard defined documents to allow your system, regardless of how large (think Boeing, GM or Walmart) or small (one person companies) to seamlessly talk to each other. We service enterprise level companies who send and receive hundreds of thousands of transactions each month as well as single entrepreneurs who make flower leis in Hawaii.  Virtually anyone can be EDI capable and that’s why EDI has thrived so strongly over the decades since it was developed!!!

Click below to read our eBook, EDI 101.

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Tags: EDI, EDI Standards, XML, business transaction

B2B Growth Leads to New Adventures

Posted by Warren Spiller on Wed, Oct 24, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

jawsPhoto appears courtesy of Kevin Dooley.  “You’re gonna need a bigger boat,”  is what Roy Scheider famously said in the 1975 film Jaws.  Of course, this is now a well-known euphemism for “we’re going to need more resources,” which brings us to a meeting three decades later.

It was a beautiful spring evening in Atlanta in April of 2011.  Faith Lamprey of Aurora Technologies, Harrisville, Rhode Island, Roger Curtis of Sitcur, Los Angeles, and myself, Warren Spiller of JRX Services, Atlanta, were attending the annual meeting of Liaison Technologies’ reseller partners.  The three of us had been resellers for Softshare’s pioneering EDI mapping and communications software for quite a while, and now Softshare had been acquired by Liaison Technologies, a world-wide provider of B2B integration and data management solutions.

Faith, Roger, and I sat in the hotel cocktail lounge, reminiscing about our past experiences over the years, how we enabled our client companies to become EDI compliant from scratch, or helped them to replace outdated EDI software with ECS and Delta, the state-of-the-art software originally developed by Softshare, and now would be an important addition to Liaison’s product line.   

We also talked about the future.  Our individual regional approach to marketing our extensive expertise and software had been working well.  We all had solid and successful businesses, but would this be enough to meet the challenges ahead, especially in light of the global marketplace now available to us with Liaison Technologies?   We all agreed that we were “…gonna need a bigger boat,” a new business model with a nationwide presence in which we could share our combined vast EDI and data integration experience and resources, and yet maintain our individuality.  And so, the Aurora EDI Alliance was born!

The Aurora EDI Alliance has experienced major expansion, so that we now are a major nationwide provider of EDI implementation and support, data integration, and related B2B services.  And collectively, we are now Liaison’s largest reseller with customers around the globe.    

Recently Faith Lamprey decided to sell her business (Aurora Technologies/EDI Support, Inc.) to another Aurora EDI Alliance partner, GraceBlood LLC, based in Baltimore, so that she could accept a full-time position teaching accounting and technology at Providence College.  GraceBlood has retained all of Faith’s staff and customers, and Liaison has heartily approved of the transition.  The newly formed company is well poised to build upon a foundation that has been 20 years in the making.  Current solutions and support services will be expanded with more resources and expertise, while retaining the industry-leading customer satisfaction for which they’re known.  We will surely miss Faith, but we are confident that the GraceBlood team will lead us to new heights.

Faith’s leadership, along with our combined 200 plus years of experience and B2B expertise, has truly fulfilled the vision that we planned on that beautiful spring evening seven years ago.  How can we help you fulfill YOUR vision???   

Click below to read a case study on how Liaison's Delta/ECS package helped a major B2C company manage exponential growth.

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Tags: B2B integration, B2B, data integration, EDI software, data management

Business Process Automation (BPA) - Where Do I Begin?

Posted by David McAlister on Fri, Oct 05, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

5422793573_83facbd326_oPhoto appears courtesy of John LloydThis blog was written by Michael Barnhouse of McAna EDI.  For many years industrial process automation was accomplished with such inventions as the moving assembly line, and more recently robotics have been leveraged to further the automation of an inherently physical process.  In today’s data rich internet era, process automation is not limited to the industrial process or viewed as an emerging technology, but a necessity for every business in determining how best to serve the customer.  Business Process Automation (BPA) allows successful organizations to focus on developing key relationships and differentiating the value they deliver in the marketplace.

BPA in today’s business landscape is a broad topic.  To fully explain what it is, how it has evolved, where it should live within the business and supporting infrastructure, who uses it, and the demonstrable benefits that can be achieved are far beyond the scope of this article.  What I hope to convey in this article is how to get started with a BPA project.

So, where do you begin with a BPA project?  How do you identify which processes should be automated?  What else is necessary to start?

The first step in every BPA project is for the business to ask and answer two questions:

  • What differentiates the business in the marketplace?
  • What are the competitive advantages the business has over its competitors?

Next, companies must identify the processes within the business that are strategic and core to its success.  Essentially, the processes that deliver the most value or enable the differentiation and competitive advantage.  For instance, improving order accuracy, reducing time to market, improving customer service, or decreasing pricing while improving margins.

Once identified, a process must be well defined, else it is not a candidate for automation.  This is most often the biggest barrier for many small and medium size businesses.  Most do not have well defined processes, relying heavily on key employees to manage the process, and the all too many exceptions that exist.

Next, companies should rank the processes.  The highest ranking being given to processes that consume extensive time or resources and are often rife with human error.

The following is a listing of process types that are opportunities for automation:

  • Simple and repetitive
  • Document management
  • Finance management
  • Clear decision tree or matrix
  • Order management (Sales or Purchase)
  • Tracking and alerting

With the candidate processes identified, there are a few additional tools and resources that will be needed to begin a BPA Project. 

A project champion is the most important resource to drive the desired improvement.  Business owners and entrepreneurs typically focus their attention toward their products, services, technology and sales teams for the champion. The best champion for the project may come from anywhere in the organization.  While it is imperative that the champion is internal to the organization, the knowledge necessary to successfully accomplish the BPA project can come from other internal or external expertise. 

The remaining tools are the systems the business already own and use every day.  Many of which may have workflow automation capabilities that are unknown or unused.  There may be several mission critical stand-alone software applications in daily use that are not but could be integrated.  One important tool that likely does not exist in most organizations is an integration platform.  This will provide the framework that enables, orchestrates and monitors the new processes established through the BPA project efforts.  One such tool is Delta/ECS from Liaison Technologies.  Delta/ECS is a full featured enterprise level integration platform, scalable to every business need. 

Delta/ECS offers:

  • Data Transformation Mapping
  • Event Driven Process and File Handling
  • Advance Process Monitoring and Notification
  • Trading Partner and Document Management
  • Comprehensive and Integrated Communications

If you believe that your organization can benefit from exploring the benefits of starting a BPA project, I encourage you to reach out to a group like the Aurora EDI Alliance.  We can help you identify your path to BPA success.

Click below for a whitepaper on what getting data integration right can do for your business!

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Tags: automation, business process automation, BPA, workflow automation, Liaison Delta/ECS, Integration

What are the Most Successful B2Cs Doing?

Posted by Shandra Locken on Fri, Sep 21, 2018 @ 06:17 PM

14865096482_366bdf03df_zPhoto appears courtesy of Mike MozartThis blog was written by Aurora EDI Alliance partner, Jim Gonzalez.  This is a question all companies should be asking themselves as we are moving in the direction of purchasing all goods online through mobile devices.  How often do you go to the store to pick up something you ordered online? Grocery stores are moving to ordering online with the local store delivering to your home. Some stores - Walmart and Target come to mind - allow you to order online and pick up at the local store to save on shipping.  This is due to Walmart and other major entities moving into other sectors they weren’t historically known for. Walmart was the go-to retail store for discount items just a decade ago. Now they are pushing to also be your discount everything from tires to iPads to tomatoes, and even offer additional discounts for ordering online with store pick-up. To further meet consumer demand, they are offering more items that are either organic or sourced sustainably or both.  Think about it, if you stay stagnant, you will quickly become irrelevant in today’s competitive environment.

You want to evaluate where your business is successful compared to your competitors. Then work through how you can expand those areas in the next month, year and decade. Envision the future growth to keep pushing the envelope.

I am seeing more and more successful B2Cs adding as much automation as possible to remove the human error, along with keeping the customer informed throughout the entire customer experience. You might not think of Domino's when it comes to Business to Consumer (B2C), but they are doing a fantastic job in this area.  Their system allows you to order food online and get notifications of where your order is at in the process, from time of order to delivery. You can also check online to see the progress.  Think about that – their customer never has to call to find out where the order is. This also reduces the amount of staff needed to handle those inquiries, allowing for more time to make pizza.

The last major hurdle is to be the trend and more importantly, to keep being the trend. Amazon is leading the charge among all B2Cs. They are looking to place warehouse facilities to allow delivery of products to homes in 24 hours or less.  Also, they’re working with stores that use radio frequency identification (RFID) to allow for purchases without having to wait in checkout lines. They are acquiring other market leaders like Whole Foods to expand offerings – did you know that Amazon has lockers at Whole Foods’ brick and mortar locations?  Order from Amazon and pick up at Whole Foods!  It’s the perfect compromise for apartment dwellers and the like.  And they’re looking to start using driverless trucks to get products cross country faster without driver fatigue.

Your business may not have the cash advantage like a Walmart, Domino's or Amazon. You may not have as many employees or resources. But what you do have is the opportunity to make your mark. All of those companies started out of nothing and became something. If you need a partner to guide you through some of your technical initiatives, contact us for a consultation. We will help you expand through data integration and automating your business processes.

Click below below to see a presentation on how you can become a rock star within your organization!

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Tags: B2C, data integration, automation, amazon, Walmart, smb

Dashboard Dreams

Posted by Shandra Locken on Tue, Sep 18, 2018 @ 06:51 PM

5380858405_1a63aed659_zPhoto appears courtesy of Airwaves1.  This blog was written by Alliance partner, Karen Blood of GraceBlood LLC.  Our company serves supply chain clients who operate their own on premises systems for handling EDI activity as well as clients who rely on our managed services for handling some or all such B2B activity. We’ve been exploring how best to leverage the latest technology to deliver useful, actionable information based on such activity directly to our clients. Lately, we’ve been dreaming about delivering dashboards, or at-a-glance views of key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor important aspects of the business. Today’s tech is so powerful, today’s dreams quickly become tomorrow’s reality!

We’re starting by imagining what the various stakeholders might need and how they would benefit.

The bread and butter activity for most of our clients is performed by the wizards in Customer Service. These are the people who ensure that every customer’s needs are being met. With a properly running, automated EDI system a quick glance at their daily dashboard can confirm system processing including activity and exceptions by trading partner and performance status vis a vis service level agreements (SLAs), especially for more demanding trading partners. Anything amiss becomes easily actionable and leaves more time for any ad hoc activity, i.e. addressing product, service, billing or other concerns. While internal ERP systems supply much product-oriented and transactional information, we can easily imagine querying a dashboard system for the customer’s PO # and getting back a visual flow from the customer’s perspective of not only when that PO arrived, but when it was acknowledged, shipped, and invoiced, including the option of drilling in to each document. Why shouldn’t we be able to query with any piece of available information and then pick up the entire related document flow?

Part of the Operations team’s dashboard might be more volume oriented to guide staff utilization, i.e. focused on #s of orders, #s of lines, organized by ship via as well as partner and requested shipping date. Another part might clearly identify orders facing shipping or ASN deadlines. What about alerts for Rejected ASNs which may be due to mismatched or missing information? Operations should be able to drill-down to identify the challenge, and quickly correct which can avoid the ripple effects of an invoice being rejected because the ASN has not yet been accepted.

The Controller / CFO types dream of dashboards to improve payment days, and queries to support refuting any chargebacks that are incurred but more importantly wants the information about activity, chargebacks and exceptions aggregated for easy analysis, prioritization, and elimination, collaboratively both within the organization and with trading partners. Are we doing enough business efficiently with a given trading partner to meet a SLA demand or price reduction request? It is easy to lose sight of orders that are processed automatically - what about alerts for unusually large ones?

IT of course wants the new Dashboard system to be easy for non-technical, non-EDI familiar users to successfully use. Really, they do, IT already has a lot on the plate. They want additional dashboards to be available to address the specific needs of their various stakeholders, and useful templates to encourage creation and adoption of new ones. What about definable notifications and alerts by e-mail or text message? For speed, security and risk management, IT wants the infrastructure for such a system to reside separately from the production systems yet be linked real-time for the most up to date info without regard to time of day or other scheduled business processes. IT would wake up ecstatic to have a system built on trusted data that is already flowing in and out of the company rather than one that requires transformation or cleansing. And IT wants to deliver such a system fully loaded, with data from as much as possible of past activity so applicable dashboards may be easily built and used immediately.

Let us know what’s on your Dream Dashboard and watch this space to see your dreams come true soon!

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Tags: data integration, dashboard, big data analytics, B2B integration, business processes, Integration, ERP integration

EDI Testing Challenges - Lessons Learned

Posted by Shandra Locken on Thu, Aug 30, 2018 @ 08:30 AM

3716273172_fe716fbf1f_zPhoto appears courtesy of frankieleon.  This blog was written by Kristen Kearns, EDI Manager for Aurora Technologies. Who else does this happen to?  Mapping is done, VAN/AS2 connections are set up, you have gotten through testing with flying colors, and then you go-live and EVERYTHING falls apart.  OK, perhaps I’m being overly dramatic….maybe not everything. Sometimes it is just a minor thing, but other times you are blindsided by a major problem!

I just went through extensive testing with a large trading partner, we passed their testing with several documents.  We go live and BAM!  Come to find out there was a large amount of data missing or wrong when we went live.  I really do not know how they passed us.  And the specs were incredibly vague.  Getting slammed with chargebacks is not a great way to start out a new trading relationship.  We did not change a thing when going live, so why was everything so different? 

How can you avoid potential issues?

  • Get the latest specifications from the trading partner.  Sometimes a trading partner does not have specifications so you need to make sure you work with them ahead of time to find a solution.  You do not want to test through documents only to find out when going live there was additional information they wanted/needed. Work with your salesperson and their buyer to find out what type of documents you will be receiving/sending as well as what should or should not be included in them.

  • Sometimes the trading partner has several sets of the same document depending on the business rules.  Find out if you can just test the documents and the types of documents you will be actually trading.  That will also cut down on the confusion

  • Make sure you have the right people involved in the right pieces of the process.  Most of these projects are B2B (business-to-business) integration projects rather than just EDI implementations.  That means there are typically a lot of different business processes involved.  I just had a client who did not have the warehouse review the packaging requirements and they are getting hit with some major chargebacks for not placing the labels on the cartons correctly. 

  • Where data is concerned, the number one issue I see is item numbers.

    • First issue with item numbers is the trading partner tries to send you data with “dummy” item numbers but you cannot test that through your ERP system.  Just ask, most trading partners, even the EDI testing companies (i.e. SPS Commerce), will allow for real data.

    • Second issue with item numbers, is once you go-live, the trading partner doesn’t have all of your items entered, or entered correctly.  Make sure your people talk to their people and get the items correct between the 2 companies.

    • Another data issue is ship-to location codes.  Make sure you get their list of location codes and set them up in your system correctly.  Doing this ahead of production, will make for less intervention.

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: EDI testing, chargebacks, B2B integration