The EDI Implementation Process: 6 Steps To Integration
So, first things first: What is EDI? EDI, or the electronic exchange of business documents, is a set of standards that define common formats for information to be exchanged electronically between two organizations that conduct business together (better known as trading partners). These standards allow companies to speak the same language electronically, thus communicating more efficiently.
Implementing EDI across your organization and enterprise resource systems is a complex process. The following are just a few of the top EDI best practices that come with EDI integration.
1. Create An Internal Team Structure
Research and create your internal team structure for who will be managing the system, communicating with trading partners, and team members who are on the other end of the supply chain and enterprise resource planning (ERP).
You must make sure to identify the owner of the EDI translator and their function, as well as who will be in direct communication with the other vital roles within your organization. Your EDI system will be the on-going communication method for your organization and gaining the support of your internal teams will benefit them and how EDI will impact the complete supply chain.
2. Evaluate Your Organization’s Priorities
At this point, you will need to begin to evaluate and identify the priorities for the implementation of your EDI. Consider all the necessary factors, such as the number of trading partners, suppliers and other customers you will be using EDI with.
Review the volume of transactions and the various types you’ll exchange with your business partners. Ask questions concerning what your new EDI platform can eliminate.
- What types of manual effort can be removed from data entry and reporting?
- Identifying this will help eliminate steps from your current business cycle that can be automated.
- Can you now create inventory control within your EDI and ERP?
- If so, you will also be able to improve customer service from time of service, the request of inventory and the delivery of products.
- You’ll also now be able to facilitate just-in-time manufacturing and improve overall business partner relationships.
Evaluate your entire organization to determine which areas of your business are ready for EDI. Determine which process will cost the least to implement EDI and which will deliver the most significant savings and increase in profitability.
Once you’ve evaluated the above areas, you can map out the scope of your project, as well as descriptions of your internal strengths, weaknesses and opportunities that come with additional systems.
3. Create A Timeline
This is the point at which you will lay out the timeline for implementation. Be sure to review the timing of the system development and the funding required for the project on your implementation schedule. Once your plan has been created, you’re then ready to begin research for the EDI translator.
4. Select A Translator
Your translator selection is key to EDI integration and success. Your translator will aid in interpreting the EDI information it receives from the sender and translating it into the agreed upon format that the receiver has proposed.
Successful EDI translators should provide validation of the document’s adherence to agreed upon EDI standards, document checking for redundancies and confusion, and functional acknowledgment reconciliation that alerts EDI teams when documents don’t look right.
5. Review Your Implementation Guide
Once you’ve selected your translator, you will also request an implementation guide for each trading partner, requiring you to utilize EDI. The implementation guide will lay out your communication model, this includes:
- Direct connection to each other
- Utilization of an EDI network provider
- Direct connection for high-volume business partners and use of EDI network for additional customers
- The outsourcing of your EDI program to a managed service provider
Once you’ve reviewed the implementation guide, you’ll have the required transaction standards to begin mapping with your trading partners.
6. Define The Map
Now that the data analysis is complete and the data structures are understood, the map can be defined to the EDI translation software. For most EDI software packages or VAN services, the EDI coordinator will be able to define the map.
The map defines how the data in the EDI transaction relates to the data in the internal system. The EDI software then stores the map, typically in tabular form. When a transaction enters the system, the EDI translator uses this map to determine where each incoming field goes and whether the data needs to be reformatted.
There are three major processes involved in the mapping of EDI data:
- Mapping. The transformation of an EDI document into another format or vice versa.
- Translation. The acceptance of inbound EDI data or the preparation of an outbound file for transmission.
- Communications. The transmission of EDI transactions.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into EDI implementation in order to be EDI compliant. That’s why we’ve worked to simplify and streamline the process.
Let 1 EDI Source Help With Your EDI Implementation Process
EDI is a critical component in any business’s organization to ensure optimum operational efficiency. At 1 EDI Source, we can help with our comprehensive suite of EDI software products, guiding you toward successful EDI implementation and integration processes that are simple and stress-free. Our team can review your business requirements and recommend an EDI solution that meets both your needs and budget.
Download our EDI 101 Guide today to jump-start your EDI education. Have a question or need more information? Reach out to our EDI experts today. Our EDI professionals are here to support you every step of the way.