10 tips: how to avoid mistakes when using EDI
Is everything automated, or is it still manual processing? Can EDI mistakes also occur?
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is a perfect tool for optimizing business processes. Many steps are automated, especially in the case of integrated solutions. This leaves little to no room for mistakes because almost no manual action is required. However, to make sure everything runs smoothly, there are a few basics you should keep in mind. In this EDI Blog post, I will provide detailed information about these basics.
1. Choose an EDI solution that fits the number of EDI partners you have as well as your document volume!
In EDI, there is no “one solution fits all” approach. If your business partners include just a few EDI users and if your document volume is low, your best bet would be an inexpensive web EDI solution that allows you to enter data via an online browser. You will be fully EDI ready for any connected partners. If the opposite is true and you have a high document volume and many business partners who use EDI, you should definitely choose an integrated solution. In this case, all document data are automatically received from the ERP system or external data are incorporated. And since eXite allows you to reach each and every one of your partners, all you need is a connection to a single EDI platform. Any additional connections to other platforms would just create unnecessary challenges regarding technology, security, monitoring, and administration.
2. Think all electronic processes through before you get started!
If you start by exchanging specific documents via EDI, e.g., electronic orders, it makes sense to prepare the ground for despatch orders, invoices, and other documents in the workflow. E-invoices offer the highest benefits to suppliers. If these e-invoices are sent swiftly, accurately and automatically, suppliers usually receive payment sooner. A consistent process is recommended to achieve maximum synergy. The more EDI partners are connected to the system, the higher the synergy will be.
3. Update your master data automatically!
If you automatically incorporate electronic orders from your clients into your warehousing system, this will trigger numerous other processes: this includes order picking for merchandise, issuing despatch advices and, not to forget, invoicing. Having accurate key data and ongoing quality assurance is key. Ideally, suppliers should use the “location finder” by eXite. Our web-based portal provides updated information about the location data of retail stores and warehouses so that you can be sure you deliver merchandise to the right place. The ongoing exchange of updated price and catalog data (called PRICAT in EDI lingo) and partner master data (PARTIN) also makes collaboration between retailers and suppliers much easier.
4. Make no experiments with EDI standards!
EDI standards play an important role for connecting business partners with each other. I recommend not making any experiments in this area. Tried-and-trusted GS1 EDI standards exist, e.g., EDIFACT/EANCOM. Alternatively, you can trust industry standards that are widely used in your business. These include ODETTE and VDA in the automotive industry and EDITEX in the clothing industry.
5. Avoid manual interventions!
Any manual intervention will slow down the process and will make your system prone to errors. We therefore recommend avoiding system inconsistencies wherever possible. These happen when digital data cannot be fully processed automatically. One example is when an order is printed and data from this invoice need to be reentered manually into the IT system to issue delivery notes or invoices. Manual data transfer from one program to another is something to be avoided at all costs because this also creates a system inconsistency that opens up room for error.
6. Explore the full process optimization potential!
EDI is not only a thing between manufacturers and retailers. Logistics partners and presuppliers can also be included in the process, which creates even more optimization potential. In addition, there is the option for suppliers to use a sophisticated form of e-factoring to discreetly turn their outstanding invoices into liquidity. It can also be very useful for new EDI users to openly let other companies know that they have started exchanging documents electronically. More often than not, people realize that long-standing business partners use EDI as well but had only shared this information with other companies.
7. Choose the communication channel that fits your needs!
Data exchange with business partners is done via the data hub eXite. For your ERP to be able to communicate with eXite, a number of communication protocols exist, including eXite_link, AS2, API, SOAP, FTPs, etc. These connections each offer a different depth of integration. They allow your application to communicate with eXite so that users can immediately check a transaction’s status and trace it without having to switch applications.
8. Rely on EDITEL for “converting” EDI data!
The import and export of EDI messages requires interfaces. If your ERP does not have adequate interfaces, you have two options: you can either have interfaces programmed or use the eXite data conversion service to turn EDI data into any format. This will save you the hassle of creating additional interfaces and you can swiftly implement connections to your clients.
9. Be sure to make a final test!
After successfully establishing a connection to eXite, you should thoroughly check your system before you go live. To do that, please ask your business partners to provide test data as soon as possible so that you can check the integration until everything works to perfection. Also, a free eXite test system is available for users.
10. We will be happy to answer any questions you might have!
If you need immediate assistance, you can contact our technical support team 24/7. So do not hesitate to call us if you experience urgent problems. EDITEL’s technical helpdesk is available around the clock.
As a matter of course, my colleagues and I are always happy to answer any other questions you may have. Please use the contact box on the right to send your inquiry.
About the author
CIO at EDITEL Austria
EDITEL, an EDI service provider, is the internationally leading provider of EDI solutions (EDI = Electronic Data Interchange). The company specializes in the optimization of supply chain processes for companies of all sizes and in all industries.
Portrait photo copyright Editel/Petra Spiola
Symbolic image copyright iStockphoto, Daria Kulkova