EDI or Electronic Data Interchange can be an intimidating concept for some business owners. Some trading partners of yours may make it a requirement for you to do EDI with them before you can conduct any sort of business with them (See “Why am I Required to do EDI with my Trading Partners”). For some business owners, who have never had to perform EDI at all, you may not know what to look for at all.
If you are processing a small volume of orders or invoices the most cost effective EDI solution for your business is likely Web Forms/Web EDI. This type of solution simply replaces paper documents with electronic documents that are created manually using a web-based form. Conversely, integrated EDI is a seamless solution that is connected with your accounting or ERP system and does not require any manual re-keying or duplication of data. It is a must-have when you are needing to process hundreds or thousands of orders/invoices per month.
When choosing either of these options there are many features and benefits to look for and to compare between vendors. We think the most important are:
Pricing for EDI solutions usually comes in the form of 2 different models. In the first pricing model, the customer is billed per document exchanged. The second model comes in the form of annual or monthly fees, per trading partner connection. Total billing in this model is not impacted by the number of documents exchanged. When evaluating EDI solutions make sure to get quotes for each of the different pricing models so you can determine what works best for your company.
For integrated EDI, you’ll want to look for a solution that is quick and easy to implement between your trading partners and your back office accounting or ERP system. In most cases an EDI solution will be accompanied with implementation services but make sure to check. System integration is complex and is best left to the experts to put in place.
Trading Partner Connectivity
Obviously, when looking for a quality EDI solution you’ll want to make sure that it can connect with all of the trading partners that you are working with or plan to in the future. Trading partners will require that connectivity is established through one of a number of different communication protocols including AS2, FTP, and VAN. An ideal solution will support all of the major communication protocols and deliver connectivity to hundreds of different trading partners.
Secondly, you’ll want to look for a solution that your employees can use easily, and do so with little or no training. It should be web-based, for remote accessibility, and provide an intuitive user interface for monitoring and auditing transactions/documents. In addition, it should be able to handle non-compliant documents by providing a mechanism for correction and reprocessing.
Elimination of Manual Data Entry
As we all know, human error happens and it can sometime be hard to avoid when manual data entry is involved. Having a bi-directional, automated EDI solution integrated with your back office can help to avoid human error by eliminating the entry or duplication or data via manual processes.
Reduced business cycle times give your company a healthy competitive advantage. When you send or receive data via an integrated EDI solution it is immediately ready for use. This will help you save time, and liberate resources. With reduced human intervention and more automation you’ll be able to focus on what is most important to your business.
Still have questions?
We are EDI experts and our specialists are happy to assist you with any questions you may have. Give us a call when you’re ready to discuss your needs!