The month of December at our IT department
Many of us associate snow and ice with the holiday season. But what does a “change freeze” imply for an EDI service provider and why do some of us have to be on call 24/7? Read the following blog post to learn why the Christmas season and the month of December are anything but quiet at our IT department. We also receive a lot in return, and it is very rewarding to make our clients happy and feel their appreciation.
The pre-Christmas season is always a busy time for EDITEL’s IT department. This is due to the exceptionally high transaction volume in Electronic Data Interchange because it is a busy season for our retail clients: a lot of merchandise is ordered, retrieved, and delivered. After all, the supply chain must work efficiently, no matter what. Time is of the essence if and when immediate action is required. Also, many projects need to be finished by the end of the year and new ones need to be planned for the following year. Challenges related to COVID-19 add another layer of difficulty. “Oh, joyful Christmastime” is the thought that comes to mind here.
Since I have the overall responsibility for ensuring smooth operations, I need to be especially alert during these busy times. Because of the coronavirus, merchandise procurement has been a challenge during almost the entire year, which is why, in December, we are even more alert than usual. This includes having my cell phone turned on all the time and being available 24/7. When my phone rang late at night one day, one of my young sons woke up and asked me: “Dad, do you have to save the world again?”
Strictly speaking, it is my team that “saves the world” because it gives everything to provide perfect service to our clients. A special strategy to minimize risks during this time of the year is the so-called “change freeze.” This means that no changes may be made to the productive infrastructure or to the productive software to avoid any risk that a change might entail. Paired with our high-availability infrastructure, these actions ensure reliable merchandise delivery during the Christmas season.
Our support team is available 24/7 to help solve challenges small and big during the holiday season. Some of our staff members are on call outside our regular office hours. They jump into action whenever needed so that our clients do not have to worry about anything.
A real-life example
We all know that mistakes happen. It is not unusual for us to receive calls from near-desperate clients asking about missing orders. In the world of logistics, the following is a worst-case scenario: an overflowing warehouse, truck drivers waiting at the doorstep, and delivery schedules that need to be closely followed. If that happens, we need to address the problem quickly using a structured approach. After all, there are many possible causes:
- Did the client actually place the order?
- Did something go wrong during data transmission?
- Were the orders in the correct format?
- Were there any difficulties importing the data into the ERP system?
- Or was it “just” that the Internet connection was not available?
We review every step of the process flow to pinpoint the problem. Once we have found the cause, the problem is as good as solved. The best reward for us is to see our clients happy. It is not unusual for our support team to receive small tokens of appreciation from our clients or samples of our clients’ products.
Preventive action needed
We also take a lot of preventive action to avoid such scenarios from happening in the first place. We have permanent and all-encompassing “end-to-end” monitoring for our systems. Irregularities are identified immediately, and we act quickly if needed. We even go as far as to actively inform our clients when we cannot reach their IT system for whatever reason or if no data has been retrieved for a longer period of time. This allows us to identify problems early on and to solve them before things get tricky. Ultimately, our clients will have reliable systems while being able to enjoy the holidays.
In this spirit, my colleagues and I wish all our clients peaceful and relaxing holidays. Above anything, stay healthy!
If you have specific questions about Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), please don’t hesitate to contact my colleagues or myself at any time. Please use the contact box on the right to send your inquiry.
About the author
Chief Information Officer (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 iStock, RomoloTavani