Setting up an EDI system gives you the ability to exchange documents with your trading partners automatically. While the benefits of an EDI solution are clear, it’s not something that simply falls into place out of nowhere. A lot goes into implementing EDI.

One of the most important parts of EDI is your supplier onboarding. While most companies use EDI for the order-to-cash process with their customers, setting up EDI for the purchase-to-pay process with suppliers is also a wise investment. Whether you have existing EDI with your customers or are implementing for the first time, adding EDI for your suppliers provides excellent ROI.

Supplier onboarding means interconnecting your suppliers’ EDI systems with your own to automate the purchasing process. It can be a time-consuming process with a unique set of challenges. However, with the help of Data Communication Solutions (DCS) it will be in expert hands!

In this article, we’ll go over the main steps that go into supplier EDI onboarding.


Step 1: Define Your EDI Requirements

Before setting up your supplier EDI, you need to know exactly what you’re going to get out of it. You want to identify the most efficient and const-effective way to implement it. Specific EDI requirements to take into account include:

  • Processes: how orders, deliveries, and invoices will be handled at a business level. Streamlining your processes will make EDI easier to implement.
  • Document types: which EDI transactions you’ll be exchanging with your trading partners. Identify the documents most valuable to your business to eliminate wasted effort.
  • Document data granularity: the specific information that will be included in each transaction. It’s important to define this up front so you and your suppliers don’t need to make changes down the road.
  • EDI specifications: how each EDI transaction will be structured. Creating a clear, effective set of specifications will help your onboarding go smoothly.
  • Interface protocols: how EDI data is exchanged with your back-end system. Make sure you define all the system requirements to ensure valid transactions.
  • Communication protocols: You can choose the method best for you or offer options for your suppliers’ convenience.
  • Transaction frequency: how often you will send documents to your suppliers, and how quickly suppliers must return documents (particularly ASNs). Choose a frequency that meets your business needs without excess run times.

In addition to the above steps, it will help to survey suppliers in order to determine their general EDI readiness.


Step 2: Create an EDI Implementation Guide

Now that you’ve defined your requirements, it’s time to communicate them to your trading partners. AN EDI implementation guide is a set of instructions for your trading partners. To ensure everything goes smoothly, it’s important to take your time with the guide and complete it carefully!


Step 3: Prioritizing and Approaching Your Trading Partners

If you have many suppliers, it will take a while for them all to be onboarded. You won’t be able to set all of them up at once. It’s important to consider which ones to prioritize to get the most from your new system quickly. It’s also a good idea to test with one or two pilot suppliers to validate requirements before you move on to the general onboarding.


Step 4: Document Exchange Testing and Validation

When you build something new, you need to take the steps to make sure everything will work properly. Supplier onboarding is no different. Testing means sending EDI transactions to your trading partners, enabling them to send the necessary responses. The next step is validation, which means informing your suppliers of any transaction errors so they can make the necessary corrections.


Step 5: Go-Live

When you have tested and validated that you and your suppliers are successfully able to exchange EDI documents and are error free, you’re ready for the go-live!


Step 6: Post Go-Live

Even after a successful go-live, the EDI work continues. To ensure your system continues to run smoothly and accurately, you’ll need to continue with transaction monitoring and error handling.

When you work with Data Communication Solutions, steps 4-6 can either be done by us or internally. For example, we can handle the development and train your team, enabling you to roll out the EDI solution to your suppliers yourself. Alternatively, DCS can handle every step, including the go-live and beyond.

Data Communication Solutions has worked with hundreds of customers in a wide variety of industries. Our services include development, managed services, support, and training. We’re ready to help you find the ideal EDI solution for your business’ needs. Contact us today to learn more!


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