One of the major productivity (and cost reduction) enabling factors is EDI connectivity.
Whenever you decide to go and implement an EDI connection with one of your partners, there are a few key steps to go through in the early stages to smoothen your process and avoid re-visiting things at a later stage.
Re-visiting things once the process has started may cause tremendous painpoints, waste of time and … invested expense, too.
Step 1 : what are your requirements ?
Key discussions with your partner will eventually result in a clear description of the operational requirements of the EDI exchange setup. It is key to micro-manage this initiation step to make sure no re-visiting is needed at a later stage.
Step 2 : what are the EDI exchange messages needed ?
This is where the translation is done between the definition of step 1 and the technically available EDI exchange messages, contents and formats.
As an example, typical messages for EDI order processing are :
- ORDERS … transmit or receive orders.
- ORDRSP … transmit or receive order response information.
- DESADV … transmit or receive so early warning of shipments.
- INVOIC … transmit or receive invoices.
- A very extensive list of other messages exists. When working with a distribution network, as an example, extensive sharing of internal (under NDA*) information is possible including actual inventory, open purchase orders, stock targets, consignment stock, etc etc.
Step 3 : are there any “other” requirements ?
Setting up EDI may have consequences you would not really think about … those can be related to things like logistics requirements (SSCC*, Labels, Packing Lists, Barcoding) but also impact financials, etc.
Step 4 : mapping of the tiny detailled requirements !
This step is where true knowledge of both partners systems is key … in this step you will compare a few bits of requirements into detail :
- What are the data fields needed for each exchange message, for each partner ?
- Where can the be found in the ERP systems of again, both partners ?
- Document issues and find alternatives.
- Perform a full landscape view of the entire mapping of fields.
- Cross check that entire landscape … you may find that, as an example :
- You need a specific piece of data for the invoicing process but …
- You had not captured that requirement for the orders processing part.
- Doing the full landscape analysis, you would / should have incorporated that specific field in the initial orders message … this as it is needed at a later stage.
Step 4 : develop and test the required messages.
Usually, test environments are used to perform various scenario being tested for each message … this to avoid naughty surprises. Actual full cycle testing is recommended before to go live for the entire business between partners. You do not wish to put constraints on a good running commercial relationship.
Step 5 : Full go-live
Once all testing has been completed, a full “go live” can be done … perform and secure tight and close monitoring of the entire process, be prepared to see the unexpected become true and collaborate between both parties.
NDA = Non Disclosure Agreement
SSCC = Serial Shipping Container Code