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Why EDI is Like Community Theater

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You might think this blog is a stretch – how can EDI, a very technical concept, be anything like Community Theatre, a very arts-based activity?  I’m going to tell you how.

First you hear about an audition for a play/musical that a theatre group is going to produce.  In EDI, you hear about a Trading Partner that wants to trade EDI documents with you.

Secondly, you prepare for the audition and get the script.  If it’s a musical, you get the music and review it. In EDI, you get the mapping specifications and the connection information. And you review that.

Then you go on the audition in front of the director, assistant director, stage manager, the musical director. If it’s a musical, you must learn a piece of the choreography if there is dance involved.  In EDI, you’ll most likely start communications via a phone call or emails with the testing team on the partner side.

Then you WAIT and WAIT.  You’re dying to know if you got the part you tried for, or any part for that matter.  You rehash what you did and what you could have done differently.  It’s the worst feeling.  Then you get the call.  Yay, you got the part!  Or OK, you got A part.  Or UGH, no part.  Same thing with EDI, you start the process to “do” EDI and you WAIT and WAIT for the trading partner to get back to you.  Sometimes you don’t, but many times you do.  It may be good news and they are ready.  Or bad news, the project has been pushed back 6 months or worse – pushed up and they need to be ready next week!

Next you start rehearsals.  Every director is different, just like every trading partner.  Some directors want many rehearsals.  Some trading partners wants many tests for the transactions.  I’ve tested one 850 Purchase order and then I’ve had to test 40 850 Purchase Orders.

There’s a lot of waiting again at this point.  At rehearsals, if you’re not in the scene that is being rehearsed, you’re sitting and waiting.  With testing, you’ve sent the trading partner tests and then you might wait an hour, a day, a week for a response.  I like to say EDI stands for “hurry up and wait!”

Friendships form during the rehearsals and during testing.  If you are working closely on an EDI project, you might have some conversations that you get to know the person you’re working with.  The same is true with theatre.  I have met so many good friends over the years in theatre and even a couple that I consider my best friends.

Testing is done.  Rehearsals are done.  Time to go-live with this new trading partner and the transactions.  Time for the theatre shows.  Opening night!  Jitters!!!  Double-check you have all settings to production.  Is your stage makeup perfect?  Hair in place?  All pieces of your costume intact.  Flip the switch.  Curtain up.

First show is over, what do you need to do to make the next performance better?  Did you miss a line?  Did you sing loud enough in that second song?  Did you trip?  First transactions have come in?  Did they go into your production environment?  Did you forget to change the T to P on the ISA?  Did you forget to enter all the ship-to’s in your ERP?  Fix, adjust, and accommodate.

Lastly, when you are involved with community theatre, you make a commitment to the group to help.  The same is true with EDI.  You must make a commitment to keeping up with mapping modifications if your trading partner gives that to you.  You must check for errors in data, in your logs, or train someone to do that.  You can set up alerts to notify the proper person of issues.

Now go out there and BREAK A LEG!

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