Picture appears courtesy of Giulia Forsythe. This week’s blog was written by Kristen Kearns, Manager of EDI Services for Aurora Technologies. Lots of people search for information on Wikipedia, don’t they? What Wikipedia doesn’t tell you about EDI, could hurt you! Or hurt your business. Read on to get the 411.
First off, Wikipedia talks about Standards in EDI. EDI standards are not the “be all end all” of a successful EDI operation. I’ve seen all types of variations to the Standards. This runs the gamut from data not being where it’s supposed to be to not following element code standards or putting too long or too short data in data elements, etc. How do you work around this? If you have a robust EDI solution, such as Liaison’s Delta/ECS, you could have separate maps for each trading partner accommodating for those variations.
Wikipedia talks about Specifications for the data to be transmitted and they discuss that larger trading partners are usually unwilling to modify their business practices. So what happens if you cannot meet their guidelines? Do you have a way to create a work around? Can you save data on the way in, keeping in mind that it needs to be returned on the documents you have to send back to the trading partner? Over the last few years, I’ve been seeing that the PO detail line number often needs to be returned. The partner wants their line number, not yours. If your ERP resequences the line numbers based on item number order, that could be an issue.
Another situation we encounter often that Wikipedia doesn’t talk about is when a Trading Partner makes changes but doesn’t inform you OR tells you the day/week of the change which doesn’t give you enough time to prepare. Then you are scrambling to accommodate those changes to keep data flowing properly and maybe more importantly, to maintain your trading partner relationships. Great communication works both ways. Make sure you let your trading partners know well in advance if you’re going to be making some changes on your end.
What happens if you don’t have a way to transmit data the way your trading partners wants you to. What if your trading partners wants AS2 (such as the case with Walmart and many others) and you don’t have that capability? That’s just another reason to make sure your EDI software can accommodate the latest and greatest transmission methods.
Something I ran into recently, was that the VAN that a client is using was replacing certain characters in the data that was being sent in from a trading partner. The partner didn’t know why we weren’t getting what they sent. This took a lot of digging. That’s my most important tip of the day – you need to look at all touch points of the data!