Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Wikipedia Won't Tell You About EDI

I found this interesting blog post written by Kristen Kearns, Manager of EDI Services for Aurora Technologies. She quite correctly describes some of the nuances in EDI that is overlooked by folks that aren't too engaged in the implementation of EDI. The theory of EDI with it's communication protocols, standards, elements, segments, separators is all good and fine but at some stage it runs in to the brick wall called REALITY!!!

To summarize the points that Kristen has made I have compiled the following bullet points:

Wikipedia tells you about EDI standards
  • Reality = Standards are a "suggested ruleset" that are loosely followed by those implementing them - Improper use of segments and elements are commonplace
Wikipedia tells you about how large EDI users publish their specifications and are unwilling to change
  • Reality = You better get your ERP implementation in shape to align with these specifications - The supplier will not change their process but can you integrate their needs in to your standard process - Wikipedia doesn't talk about how this is a critical part of the puzzle - I have integrated many suppliers unique requirements in to SAP and there are several standard techniques to do this where you don't have to adapt the customer's process to meet the supplier's EDI requirements... This is key.
Wikipedia does not call out the importance of timely change notifications - E.g. We are changing the qualifier from A to B from Monday onwards... EDI changes can be slow to make because the testing cycle is not a trivial one. Ensuring that good, timely communication is in place between trading partners, both ways, is critical to a successful EDI process

Wikipedia tells you about communications and the way data is to be transmitted
  • Reality = Sometimes you simply don't have the tools to communicate in the way the supplier or customer needs it. E.g. You don't have AS2 capabilities to communicate with Walmart. It then becomes a key issue to figure out exactly how you will accomplish this otherwise you run the risk of losing the business.

There are many nuances in an EDI implementations and these are but a few key ones. Check out Kristen's article.