When implementing EDI with external parties, there are some key items that need to be considered to help achieve a successful, effective implementation.
Who is instigating the project and who is managing the project?
Whether you have initiated the EDI implementation, or you are responding to a request from an external party to be EDI compliant, you need to make sure that there are clear responsibilities for who is setting requirements.
If you are responding, you should expect the initiator to provide you with specification requirements.
If you are initiating the EDI implementation, you should determine the specification requirements. You need to be very clear on what you are trying to achieve.
For the project, have a dedicated project team, with clear responsibilities and reporting lines, as well as an effective project management framework. It’s a good idea to have an owner on each side of a B2B project.
What are you trying to achieve?
Even before the project is scoped (whether it is done internally or is outsourced), establish what your objectives and priorities are. The more granular details can be worked out during scope but you need to work out the direction you are going:
• Are you wanting to streamline processes with your customers?
• Are you wanting to reduce costs?
• Are you wanting to increase data integrity and reduce errors?
• Are you wanting to reduce dispatch times?
• Are you wanting to automate an existing non automated process or is this a new process that will be automated?
Take into consideration every part of the business. Speak to the stakeholders.
Does the integration model already exist?
Chances are the implementation you are considering has been tried or completed before. Ask the other parties or vendors involved in the project for relevant background information, technical specification documents, and examples of past experiences.
If looking to complete a B2B EDI connection, ideally there will be an EDI specification document which outlines the data to be transferred, data field mappings, data file formats (eg. XML, JSON, ANSI X12 etc) and preferred transport technique (eg. FTP, SFTP, SOAP/REST services etc).
Do your research. Talk to the experts. Scope the approach to the project.
What will the project approach be?
If you are implementing EDI with multiple external parties, it can be a good idea to start with one first. If you are new to EDI, it can be treated as a pilot and additional EDI connections can be rolled out once complete and learnings have been had. A common issue is trying to implement multiple EDI connections with different trading partners at once which can result in re-work multiple times.
Similarly, if you are doing internal integration, you can do one project at a time. Understand your organisations ability to change for each integration. Are the affected people, departments, and application vendors ready for process to change.
Go for the low hanging fruit if possible and try the simpler EDI connection or integration project first.
Who will do it?
Depending on the amount of internal resource, their capacity and their competency with EDI, you can consider resourcing internally, outsourcing, or a combination. If doing the work internally, there is a lot of knowledge and resources required in not only implementing but also supporting the EDI connection going forward. Do some research and see if there are pre-built or already tried and tested approaches to leverage for a successful project. A user-friendly integration platform like Statelake will assist if choosing to resource internally or maintain the EDI connection yourself.
Want to learn more?
If you need help with implementing EDI connections with your customers and suppliers, and want to talk to the experts first – we have over 18 years experience helping our customers build hundred of EDI connections. We’re here to help, so get in touch today.
Or, download our free Guide to EDI – an simple, practical look at how EDI works, and the benefits it can bring for your business.