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EDI System Tune Up

Written by Ken Kinlock
Published on Friday, 17 February 2012

tune upJust like your car, your EDI system requires a periodic “tune up”. You need to step back and see if your system is giving you the “best mileage for your dollar”. Remember, things change over time and something that worked well last year might not now because of external changes in your business process or internal changes in the interfacing systems. Here is what I would recommend:

1. Start out by looking at how well you are integrated. What kind of data re-keying are you doing? Every time you re-key, there is always a possibility of an error. Do you tie into an ERP? Are the data transfers automatic or is there a lot of “hands on”? A well- integrated system will help you reap the cost-savings benefits of EDI.
2. Look carefully for manual processes and “think out of the box” to automate. Remember labor is an even bigger expense than software and hardware. For example, are trading partner relationships maintained separately on a disconnected spreadsheet or data base? Consider integrating this data into your company's CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system.
3. Your car has a “trouble reporting” system. Used to be something like a red light that said “engine trouble”, but now many cars have a digital display that clearly states what the problem is. Possibly your EDI operation spends a lot of time each day analyzing an “error log”? Investigate if your EDI or ERP system has an error-tracking feature that can create emails or send text to a phone. Another idea is add-on software that “reads” your error log, distinguishes errors from warnings, and sends out real-time notifications. Fewer errors mean less charge backs, which results in more profit.
4. Take an “end-to-end” look at your EDI system. Is it supporting your business goals? Maybe it is time to initiate projects like integration with your transportation carriers or initiating EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer).
5. Realize that EDI is not just something your customer is forcing you to do. Look at EDI positively as a way to reduce costs and increase your ROI. A super system will make your company more attractive to prospective customers too.
6. Again, like your car, an evaluation might lead you to the conclusion that it is time to “trade in” and upgrade your EDI system. Now if you are already running “in a Cloud”, your SaaS (Software As A Service) vendor is willing and able to upgrade you. If you are not yet running “in a Cloud”, now would be a great time to look at this option.

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