Is EDI implementation difficult?

Utilizing complex and effective systems requires that EDI software be properly configured. This allows for reliable and efficient EDI integration with your company’s back-end office systems. An initial launch requires about a month because more than normal coordination with Customer Service and other users is required. As you begin trading with more partners and you experience business growth, your EDI system will grow in complexity – while your company’s expertise grows.

Why is EDI so complex?

Large corporations continually seek to refine cost allocation to more effectively monitor their vendors’ performance. An example from a customer Purchase Order is specifying the freight carrier to be used, which relates to their performance effectiveness measurement of their logistics department. An incidental benefit for them is that some invoices are not paid because required information is missing or a chargeback can be levied.  The other reason for complexity is that customers conduct business in different ways.  For example, Target Stores have different P.O. formats for Ship-To Distribution Center, Store, DC Cross-Docked, and Home.

What specific experience do I need in order to be able to do EDI?

The amount of experience you need in order to be able to do EDI directly correlates to the type of EDI solution you choose for your business. You will need to know your business application’s tables, the precise definition of every field, and the basics of data transmission. For example, the difference between the first and last shipment date and the first and last arrival date. Since EDI integration is object-oriented you do not need to know Java™ or another language. For EDI software implementation, training is often recommended for your employees.

What is the difference between EDI and E-Business?

E-Business can be the electronic exchange of information in any format; EDI is done through a standardized format and is particularly useful for a large volume of repetitive documents such as purchase orders commonly exchanged between business partners.

Why can’t the company just e-mail the information?

By automating the exchange of documents, EDI eliminates repetitive data-entry and common mistakes due to human error, two conditions to which e-mail is susceptible. With EDI, the information is automatically transferred between trading partners.

How long has EDI been around?

For over thirty years, EDI has allowed companies to electronically trade documents. In addition to being a very mature technology, EDI is a long-established communication solution in many companies. With the emergence of new technologies, such as the Internet, EDI has had to evolve. By taking advantage of these new technologies, EDI continues to serve as an effective and efficient mode of document exchange. DCS has focused exclusively upon EDI since 1991.

Is EDI dying?

Businesses will continue to exchange information, and are likely to increase the amount exchanged. As time passes EDI evolves just as other technology improves. For example, dial-up telephone modems and industry specific XML tags have passed. The solution is to use systems that support both older and newer protocols as customer requirements change over time.

Is EDI only for customers?

EDI documents are high volume, routine documents that can be exchanged with these other organizations if financial benefits are achieved:

  • Vendors (production or re-sale)
  • Transporters (truck, parcel, air, rail, and ocean; including logistics providers)
  • Banks (payments)
  • Insurance companies (benefits information)
  • Government (taxes and filings)

How is EDI different from a shopping cart on a Web site?

The fact is that any business has little control over its customers. Conversely, a shopping cart is wholly controllable, which requires fewer protections. Second, the size of transactions measured in dollars is far higher, also requiring greater controls. Finally, EDI transactions are repeated daily or weekly, but consumer based shopping cart transactions are not.

What is XML EDI?

XML EDI combines the best features of traditional EDI (which has broad industry support) with the improvements in software technology within XML (Extensible Markup Language). Typically, EDI is used for high volume count transactions and XML is used for low volume transactions. For Example:

  • High volume – EDI – customer purchase order
  • Low volume – XML – freight claim

In an XML EDI message the EDI information is explicitly labeled using standardized tag names. Reference may be made via Internet to a Document Type Definition (DTD) – which contains structure declaration and relevant sets of code values. This illustrates the commonality – X12 and XML are both data with tags schemes.

What are the benefits of XML/EDI over existing approaches?

XML is the most promising approach to move low volume documents through the Internet. In particular XML EDI could bring in small vendors. Another argument is that XML is versatile. This opens new areas for EDI such as direct integration with the major databases and off-the-shelf business packages or browser software.

Is there any other added value of XML/EDI compared with traditional EDI?

It will be easier to incorporate components such as digital signature, smartcard authorization, routing instructions, spreadsheet, graph and Internet-like adds on into an EDI message, thus making use of the intrinsic flexibility and extensibility of XML.
Because XML is a self-describing format (the structure is apparent in the document), tools can analyze the structure and automatically derive mappings, conversion, import rules, etc.
Consequently the task of mapping is expected to be easier through the use of extended functions in existing user tools (word processor, database, etc.). It is anticipated that search engines could also retrieve information held in XML/EDI messages through the use of embedded tags.

What is the difference between Electronic Data provided by an EDI VAN and Internet EDI?

A Value Added Network, often referred to as an EDI VAN, is a private network dedicated to the secure exchange of EDI traffic. This network serves as an electronic mailbox for sending and receiving electronic documents. Internet-based EDI enables companies to exchange EDI documents over the Internet using secure methods of encryption. While there are similar business benefits for both methods of exchange, the determining factor of which method to use depends on customer requirements. You will likely use AS2 for most exchanges, yet need one VAN for those not using AS2. (One VAN will suffice as VANS interconnect for a small fee.)

How can you support so many systems well?

Two reasons. First, DCS has a large staff of consultants with varying experience and skillsets. Second, EDI conforms to a standard and all EDI systems perform the same function. The difference is the commands and processes. This is true for ERP data integration modules as well. Customer purchase order entry, error checking, and reporting is nearly the same on all systems and in all countries. For example, consider the differences between Microsoft Word™, Corel’s Word Perfect™, and Google Docs™. After thorough training and with years of experience, an EDI specialist can master several.

Can EDI support be done remotely?

Most EDI support is already done remotely. Interestingly, systems that are owned or hosted by a third party are serviced identically. The most common misperception is that an ERP hosting provider is an EDI expert. Typically, this level of support is outside the service level agreement.

How fast can you start?

Production down support can begin the same day if approved before Noon Central time. Adding customers or changing data transmission to secure Internet begins the next day. For development work such as adding documents or vendors, the start date is included in the work estimate. DCS policy is to slightly over-staff to ensure you a prompt response.