We all know that integrating your EDI is the holy grail of being EDI capable. But why doesn’t everyone take advantage of integration? We can talk about expense or lack of staff or any number of issues but the integration itself what I want to focus on here. Integration is not always a simple concept. There are different integration challenges that face vendors and retailers when implementing a seamless EDI system. What are some of these challenges?
First and foremost, how do you move information in and out of disparate applications? For example, transferring data from the retailer into your (vendor’s) very different application, or moving data from your application to the retailer. There are a couple of different ways you can accomplish this. The first method is to use a database which you can then import and export the data needed. Another method includes the use of files with specific formats that the applications can read.
The second challenge to integration is converting the data sent/received into something usable/readable by the applications, not to mention a human who may need to review the data being sent/received. If an individual does not have any EDI experience when looking at a raw EDI document, it would appear to them as computer gibberish. Trying to learn what all the segments and elements of an EDI document translate to in a meaningful way can take up a valuable resource known as time.
Another integration challenge is the transmission of your data securely to its destination. This can be between Trading Partners, between users within the organization, or from one Value Added Network (VAN) mailbox to another. There are different protocols that can be used in order to transmit this data such as SFTP, FTPS, AS2, SMTP and POP3 to name a few. Lastly, how do you address exception handling and/or other unanticipated issues? When an issue arises with the data being sent in and out of the applications, or when an error occurs in the communication protocols, it disrupts the flow of business operations and can ultimately affect your bottom line.
How does Liaison’s Delta/ECS solve some of these challenges? So happy you asked. The challenge of moving data in and out of applications is met nicely with Liaison’s Delta mapper, providing a user with the flexibility of writing EDI documents to any number of file formats such as text files, CSV files, or XML files to name a few. Delta is truly an any-to-any translation tool. With the powerful flexibility of the mapper, the EDI data can be mapped into a user-friendly format which makes it easy for the user to understand and read. Liaison Delta can also read/write data directly to/from a database.
The third challenge is secure communications, and this is where Liaison ECS comes into play. Liaison ECS, acting as the airport control tower, deals in a wide variety of communication protocols depending on the business requirements of an organization, and the requirements of the Trading Partner. Liaison ECS can handle all of the established protocols, including the newish SHA2 encryption now being required by several retailers. See this blog for more on that.
ECS also does an incredible job with exception handling. Not only does ECS provide secure communications methods, it also allows for error reporting if an issue should arise, notifying you before it becomes a major headache. These are done through setting up event rules within ECS to capture different errors. When an error/issue is encountered, ECS can send out error alerts to individuals notifying them of the issue.
The flexibility of Liaison Delta/ECS makes for solving integration challenges a breeze!