EDI Connectivity

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 :

  1. What are the data fields needed for each exchange message, for each partner ?
  2. Where can the be found in the ERP systems of again, both partners ?
  3. Document issues and find alternatives.
  4. Perform a full landscape view of the entire mapping of fields.
  5. Cross check that entire landscape … you may find that, as an example :
  1. You need a specific piece of data for the invoicing process but …
  2. You had not captured that requirement for the orders processing part.
  3. 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