Do you need to use an EDI system? With DiCentral your business can be EDI ready in a snap. Want to know more? Just ask. Understanding the Basics about EDI Systems An EDI System refers to the software and practices involved in enabling the exchange of transaction data with customers and vendors (trading partners) using industry standard EDI protocols. An EDI System is often integrated into the back-end system that is used to manage the company’s accounting, warehousing and production environments.
An EDI System can include communication, translation and mapping functionalities. Understanding an EDI System Selecting an EDI System vendor can be a complex and time consuming process. There are a number of factors you should consider when selecting your EDI System: EDI standards supported Ease of use & customization Software maintenance Special features Technical support Vendor experience Hardware requirements Your EDI system should provide support for as broad a set of standards as possible. At a minimum your EDI system should support the ANSI X12 standard used in the US.
If you work with foreign companies your EDI system should also support UN/EDIFACT and possibly the Tradcoms standard. In addition to supporting multiple standards, the EDI system should also be able to support multiple versions of each standard, since different trading partners will often require you to use a different standard version. Your EDI System and Implementation Guides When companies first use an EDI system they are often surprised to learn that different trading partners will require different ‘implementations’ of EDI.
This means that each trading partner has its own unique “spin” on EDI. This uniqueness is addressed with an implementation guide. You will use this to use to customize how your EDI system works with a specific trading partner. The implementation guide will tell your EDI system administrator what optional segments and elements need to be used in specific transaction sets. To make your life easier you might want to consider purchasing an EDI system like EMANIO’s that allows you to add over 300 trading partners without having to learn their specific implementation guides.
Choosing your EDI System Vendor One of the most important considerations in purchasing an EDI system is the service and support you will receive after the sale. At a minimum your EDI system vendor should provide services to help you trouble shoot your software in case of problems and also provide installation assistance and on-demand professional services. To gauge an EDI system vendor’s services it’s always a good idea to request a reference. Another important consideration is the long-term viability of your EDI system vendor.
How long have they been in business? Does the EDI system vendor have experience in your industry? How many customers have purchased this EDI system? There are a number of small vendors who might be able to provide you with a product, but might not be around to help you in a few years or might not be able to support you after the sale. Selecting the Right EDI System Generally speaking most EDI systems are deployed either on server based computers or on low-end desktops running the Windows operating system.
Regardless of the option you choose, your EDI system can span a lot of features, options and costs. EDI systems can be hosted by third-party companies and they can also be run in your organization. Hosted EDI systems can be a cost-effective option for businesses just getting started with EDI, but with products like EMANIO’s Trading Partner FASTStart EDI system, an in-house EDI system is no longer an expensive proposition. In fact, over a single year many customers find that an EDI system for under $995 like EMANIO’s Trading Partner software, can outperform an on-demand EDI system.
After you have selected if an in-house our outsourced EDI system is right for you, consider the number of features your EDI system should have. While there are a number of features that many EDI system vendors will advertise, there are some that over time will become very useful to any EDI system user. Some of the key features are the number of trading partners supported by the EDI system, the amount of integration your EDI system can perform with your in-house accounting or ERP software, and the amount of automation your EDI system allows.
Deploying your EDI System Once you have selected an EDI system vendor and selected the right EDI system,the next step is to ensure a successful deployment. In order to achieve success you should take some basic steps before deploying your EDI system. Before you embark on your EDI system deployment ensure that you have discussed your EDI deployment with all trading partners that will be affected.
Even if your EDI system has kits to make the process easier, your trading partners will need to provide some unique information that your EDI system will need for each trading partner in order for the transactions to be exchanged successfully. In addition, each trading partner may want you to go through a ‘test phase’ with your EDI system to ensure that there are no problems in communications. As you select your EDI system vendor it will be important to understand the level of support they can provide during this critical initial phase of deployment of your EDI system.
Maintaining your EDI System The most common mistake most businesses new to EDI will make happens after the EDI system has been deployed. Many businesses in fact don’t view their EDI system as a critical part of their IT infrastructure. It’s very common for customers to keep their EDI system on an old PC that is not frequently backed up. This is a very dangerous idea. In fact your EDI system is one of the most critical parts of your infrastructure. Beyond a regular back-up schedule, your EDI system should also be optimized for maximum performance.