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EDI Testing Challenges – Lessons Learned

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Photo appears courtesy of frankieleon.

Who else does this happen to?  Mapping is done, VAN/AS2 connections are set up, you have gotten through testing with flying colors, and then you go live and EVERYTHING falls apart.  OK, perhaps I’m being overly dramatic…maybe not everything. Sometimes it is just a minor thing, but other times you are blindsided by a major problem!

I just went through extensive testing with a large trading partner, we passed their testing with several documents.  We go live and BAM!  Come to find out there was a large amount of data missing or wrong when we went live.  I really do not know how they passed us.  And the specs were incredibly vague.  Getting slammed with chargebacks is not a great way to start out a new trading relationship.  We did not change a thing when going live, so why was everything so different?

How can you avoid potential issues?

  • Get the latest specifications from the trading partner.  Sometimes a trading partner does not have specifications, so you need to make sure you work with them ahead of time to find a solution.  You do not want to test through documents only to find out when going live there was additional information they wanted/needed. Work with your salesperson and their buyer to find out what type of documents you will be receiving/sending as well as what should or should not be included in them.
  • Sometimes the trading partner has several sets of the same document depending on the business rules.  Find out if you can just test the documents and the types of documents you will be actually trading.  That will also cut down on the confusion
  • Make sure you have the right people involved in the right pieces of the process.  Most of these projects are B2B (business-to-business) integration projects rather than just EDI implementations.  That means there are typically a lot of different business processes involved.  I just had a client who did not have the warehouse review the packaging requirements and they are getting hit with some major chargebacks for not placing the labels on the cartons correctly.
  • Where data is concerned, the number one issue I see is item numbers.  The first issue with item numbers is the trading partner tries to send you data with “dummy” item numbers, but you cannot test that through your ERP system.  Just ask, most trading partners, even the EDI testing companies (i.e. SPS Commerce), will allow for real data.  The second issue with item numbers is once you go live, the trading partner doesn’t have all of your items entered or entered correctly.  Make sure your people talk to their people and get the items correct between the 2 companies.
  • Another data issue is ship-to location codes.  Make sure you get their list of location codes and set them up in your system correctly.  Doing this ahead of production will make for less intervention.
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