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Stage 3: The Extensive Use EDI Implementation
Once the limited EDI use organization becomes very effective at implementing new trading partners their perspective may begin to change, and many will transition to an organization that uses EDI extensively. At this point they’ve figured out how to more effectively utilize their EDI systems, expertise and resources – and are able to recognize specific and measurable benefits of their e-business systems. The priority now becomes maximizing their investment in e-business by bringing the majority of their supply chain on board. In order to bring a larger segment of their supply chain in to trading relationships, sometimes companies embark on programs called “partner onboarding” which are meant to engage current non-EDI partners and bring them in to an electronic trading relationship.
When expanding their EDI utilization, an extensive use EDI company will want to pay particular attention to areas where cost reduction and efficiency can be achieved. One area where cost savings can often be found is in the area of alternative communication methods for the EDI data. Direct communications methods, such as AS2, can yield significant savings over traditional VAN communications, particularly for high data volume partners. Efficiency in implementation times and associated labor cost reductions can often be found as implementations grow by leveraging existing partner configurations (EDI maps) and using copied and modified versions for new partners. I’ve heard it said that there was only ever one computer program written from scratch and every other one since is a copied and modified version of that one. By using the same sort of copy/modify approach for EDI mapping, implementations can be accelerated and implementation costs reduced dramatically.
In my experience, companies that fall into this category can often times use help with the outliers – those trading partners that like to transmit data in formats or via communication methods that are not commonly used in traditional EDI implementations. For example, some trading partners may like to exchange XML data, or CSV files. These formats may not be (easily) supported by the traditional EDI solution and can be a roadblock to more extensive use of e-business. The expertise needed to support communications solutions such as the already mentioned AS2 or FTP may not be present within the company, and hiring to acquire those skills may not be a desirable approach. The solution here is to find an e-business partner that can work within the confines of your existing system, but add the flexibility you need to handle these types of requests.
If you would like to get more from your existing system, either by handling the outliers more effectively, reducing communications costs, or simply examining your e-business processes with a fresh pair of eyes, Foundational would love to hear from you.
This concludes the three part series exploring the stages and evolution of an EDI implementation. Please feel free to comment with thoughts and feedback!