A Complete Guide for Successful EDI Deployment
EDI, Electronic Data Interchange, is now considered an integral part of a growing number of sectors, adopted by a wide range of companies, irrespective of their size and domain. However, integrating EDI with the existing system in an organization is a bit of a challenging task and a complicated project to manage. To make the whole process successful, experts need to examine and evaluate numerous factors. For effective implementation and deployment, most processes are involved which lead to significant savings in the entire supply chain management costs related to warehousing, inventory level with enhanced cash flow.
Needless to say that EDI deployment is a demanding task both in terms of technology and enterprise. Therefore, outsourcing the service is a convenient option that shortens the entire process. Also, it guarantees success as professionals are adept at dealing with the complexities well. However, it is still essential to be familiar with the deployment and implementation process and keep all the hassle related to it in mind.
Needless to say that EDI deployment is a demanding task both in terms of technology and enterprise. Therefore, outsourcing the service is a convenient option that shortens the entire process.Have a look:
Step 1: Developing the Organizational Structure
EDI demands huge investment and with the right organization structure, it can be assured that the money is put in the right direction. Also, it will pay higher returns as the project evolves and grows. The primary aspects of the structure that need to be considered include EDI coordinator - a professional with proficiency in delivering EDI and can be either in-house or you can hire an EDI service provider based on the requirements of the organization. Next is the committee supervised by the coordinator and comprises department heads of affected business units along with legal and IT representatives. Also, like any other IT program, there is a senior management sponsor for the successful implementation and a team to look after the entire process and system. The coordinator stays in touch with all the teams and departments included in the EDI program.
Step 2: Determining the Requirements
At the beginning of the EDI program, it is essential to determine what you expect from the solution. Businesses must specify what they are looking for in the EDI system and what problems they intend to solve through it. For example, verifying if the ERP can process data for automotive to generate ASNs, react to call-offs, and handle self-billing. Yes, most EDI companies and suppliers have solutions that are pre-configured for most of the automakers but it is still important to check that EDI is ready for all things that you need. You must get answers to the questions, such as will it need to send data or just to receive it or both, the processes that must be covered, ASNs, orders, invoicing, etc., is it required to be integrated with other systems of the organization and if yes, then which ones, the partners involved, certain standards or protocols that customer demand, such as EDIFACT, ANSI X12, VDA, and more.
Step 3: Conduct a Strategic Review & Analysis
With strategic analysis and review, businesses can identify the corporate applications for EDI deployment and set priorities to migrate to EDI. The benefits reaped from EDI can vary among companies and with an in-depth survey, it is easy to distinguish between the units of the company that will witness the maximum improvements with the change. Moreover, aspects, such as business partners, suppliers, customers, transactions, etc., must also be considered along with describing the current system and changes that need to be done. Apart from this, receipts and issuance or different business documents are based on human and machine procedures and all this must be documented and analyzed for increased EDI efficiency. The idea is to improve the business cycle rather than just automating it.
Step 4: Choose the Right Team
For effective and seamless EDI deployment, you need a well-assembled team with an unmatched proficiency in the technology. And our EDI implementation services provide you with the same. With relevant knowledge and experience, it can handle the EDI implementation process effectively. Therefore, it is essential to clarify the internal staff to be assigned for the project. Also, it is important to hire an external supplier if needed. Then divide the roles among the members based on capabilities and skills along with defining the one with all decision-making power.
Step 5: Select the Right Partner
By now, you must have realized that EDI is a key process in an organization and you cannot make any compromise in it. Thus, it is better to seek EDI solutions from a trusted partner who can assist you at every step and is available for help right from the beginning till the end. The job of a professional service provider is not finished with the deployment but also continues after the launch. However, it is also required to know what is your prime objective for seeking managed EDI services. Do you need to train employees or for support? What experience do they have and the sectors they are active in? Do they offer their own solution or implement another company’s software? Can they help you integrate the EDI with other systems? What is their pricing structure? How do they handle system updates? And more. These questions will ensure that you select the best partner for EDI deployment.
Step 6: Integrate EDI with the Business
There is no use of deploying EDI if it’s not integrated with the business system as this will eliminate manual errors and needless manual tasks. Also, with smooth integration, you can automate the transfer of information and smooth transitions based on changes in customer demands. Once you buy the necessary hardware and software to empower the EDI solution, an expert team will convert your idea and requirements into reality. A3logics preens itself for a highly-knowledgeable team of EDI that understands all the standards, formats, communication protocols, and systems. It performs various tasks, such as:
- EDI integration with an in-house ERP system which includes extracting and loading data.
- Creating essential EDI documents through mapping that is essential for extracting data and providing enveloping.
- Installing and configuring the communication software to enable the sharing of business documents.
- Although these tasks are complicated and tedious, our technically skilled members will manage it without any disruption or hassle.
Step 7: EDI Mapping
Once you are done with analysis and hiring a professional service provider, the next step is to define a ‘map’ for smooth communication and translation. EDI mapping is required as every customer and system has a different message structure. The step ensures that only the same items are read into the message, in the correct place. Usually, the coordinator defines the map for the majority of EDI software packages or VAN services. It defines how the data in any EDI transaction is related to the data in the internal system. The map is stored in a tabular form in the software and as the transaction enters the system, the translator determines where incoming fields will go and if the data needs reformatting. It also aims at avoiding customer interface, especially custom edits per business partner. The more standardized the data format, the better the performance is and the less need for specific programming.
Step 8: Establish a Pilot Project
Mapping is followed by testing the EDI system for its ability through pilot mode with selected trading partners. Many companies ignore testing and pilot but it is quite critical as it helps to refine the system, identifies the benefits to be achieved, and makes it compatible with the systems of business partners. Rather than keeping it as an option, we include it as a vital part of EDI software development and deployment. The team sets up a pilot project with a selected number of business partners based on their EDI experiences. Also, to make it successful, the focus is on one EDI application, such as purchase orders. The process starts by transmitting documents to the pilot trading partners who confirm that the data is processed accurately. They then return the data for testing. With the completion of each test successfully, the partner starts sending real orders to evaluate the capability of the system to manage daily business processing. Paper-based transactions are eliminated only after ensuring that both the partners are satisfied with the performance of the EDI.
Step 9: Roll Out EDI
The last step is to roll out the EDI program and test it on real-world data. No doubt that you will discover many errors and flaws in this phase as well that were not visible during the configuration and pilot phase. With the final launch, you experience all the advantages of automated data exchange in your supply chain. Moreover, launching also includes surveying the community to understand a supplier’s level of EDI readiness. The professionals looking after the EDI project develop and implement a communication plan while offering various EDI options, such as web-based and cloud-based EDI, or excel-based option for the ones who still don’t have integrated EDI with their back-end systems. You also avail of support for each supplier through the process.
Apart from all the above-mentioned steps, we also offer monitoring, troubleshooting, and supporting services round-the-clock to make sure hassle-free business operations and communication with partners. Our flexible and effective EDI deployment process is suitable for all businesses across varied industries. So, if you also need expert guidance and professional help for EDI, then A3logics is your one-stop solution. To discuss your project, feel free to call us or drop an email now.