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EDI Mapping: DIY or Outsource

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When I sell on-premise EDI translation software, one of the first questions I ask is, “Do you want to do the EDI mapping or do you want us to do it?”  And then I hear crickets. The problem is that most people do not have the answer because they do not know what this entails!  If you are in the market (or will be) for on-premise EDI software, you too will need to answer this question.

Here are some considerations to help you decide if you want to take on EDI mapping:

  1.  EDI mapping is only as easy as the EDI mapping tools you are using.  Some EDI mapping software offers templates that you can download and only require that certain fields be filled in.  Furthermore, having an any-to-any mapper can offer the flexibility that limited mappers fall short on.  An any-to-any mapper can handle multiple formats (like flat files, spreadsheets, etc.), not just EDI.
  2.  Doing your own mapping often also means that  of your EDI operations from exceptions to routine maintenance.  This usually requires at least one full-time position and who would likely be on call after 5 o’clock.  Do you have the staff you can dedicate to EDI?
  3.  It would be advisable to take courses on EDI and EDI mapping.  Mapping is very detailed and specific so even a simple oversight can cause an error, such as the inclusion of extraneous characters.
  4.  Assume that from time to time you will need some outside help.  Even the most proficient EDI professionals using the simplest EDI mapping tools can come up against something that stumps then.  That’s when it’s time to bring in a fresh pair of eyes to help.
  5.  If you do not have many trading partners who want to do EDI with you, once you get them set up and in production, only daily monitoring of the system should be needed.  The monitoring needed can usually be performed by someone without EDI mapping skills.  If you have learned mapping skills they now may not be required again until a new trading partner or document is added.

Being mindful of all that is involved with EDI mapping and EDI management will help you come to the best conclusion when someone like me asks, “Do you want to do your own EDI mapping or do you want us to do it for you?”  If you are honest about your strengths and limitations, you will ensure a successful EDI operation.

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