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September 21, 2012

Top Tips from 1 EDI Source to Help Automotice Suppliers Choose the Right EDI Solution

This article also is available on info.algorithminc.com where 1 EDI Source appeared as a guest blogger.

In our previous blog, we provided some guidelines to automotive suppliers on how to become compliant with electronic data interchange (EDI) standards established by their trading partners. Today, we’ll dig deeper and discuss tips on finding an EDI application that meets not only your needs, but also your trading partners’ requirements. We’ll highlight trading partner, Ford Motor Company, for the purposes of this discussion.

Ford first used EDI standards in the mid-1980s. Since that time, EDI has become a standard application in the automotive industry. Today, Ford requires Tier 1 suppliers and their suppliers to be EDI capable. What does it mean to be EDI capable?

Tier 1 Ford suppliers and their vendors must have the necessary computer equipment and technology to communicate electronically and exchange EDI data. Ford defines an EDI interface with which suppliers must comply. However, the auto manufacturer doesn’t enforce or recommend a specific EDI solution.

Finding the right EDI application depends on your various needs as well as the solution’s ability to adhere to Ford’s requirements.

Considering the topics below will assist you with ensuring your EDI application is designed to help – not hinder – your ability to efficiently exchange business documents with Ford.

1. Choose an EDI services provider knowledgeable about Ford EDI standards

Before discussing transaction sets, ask the provider about available EDI solutions for your suppliers. For example, some EDI solution companies offer portals that allow suppliers to exchange EDI data with their vendors.

Most EDI services providers can easily help you comply with Ford’s basic transaction sets such as the 850 purchase order. However, some may not support all Ford transactions including the manufacturer’s EDIFACT equivalents. Be sure to inquire about the provider’s ability to support all Ford transaction sets.

You also may want to ask if the EDI software company provides any special modules for managing specific transactions such as the 830 materials release and the 862 shipping delivery schedule transactions.

It’s also important to ensure the provider can support Ford communication requirements through the Automotive Network Exchange (ANX). The ANX is a secure, private extranet designed to connect automotive suppliers and manufacturers.

2. Ask about the implementation schedule and timeline

Be sure to inquire about the timeline for implementing and using your EDI software. For example, some EDI web-based solution providers can have you up and running in just a few days, while others may take weeks.

3. Inquire about integration capabilities

You’ll also want to ensure the EDI software solution can integrate with your back-end accounting and other business systems. Seamless integration with your back-end systems can help you minimize errors and reduce manual entry. It’s important to note that data integration is required for Ford production parts suppliers.