For end-to-end EDI integration, there are a few key one-time software and services required to get up and running.
The initial cost of EDI integration will depend on the approach being taken, what EDI components you already own, how many trading partners you need to bring up right away, and any customizations or additional reporting you may require.
If you’re starting from ground zero with no EDI components, you’ll need:
- Your ERP system’s EDI package
- For Infor Syteline, the SyteEDI module is included as part of the core license in Version 8 and above.
- For WorkWise ERP, the EDI module is an optional software package.
- It is my strong belief that using the ERP company’s EDI module is a key part of your EDI strategy – their software will handle importing of data from a flat file format to create or update orders, and exporting of data for other outbound transactions such as PO Acknowledgements, Advanced Ship Notices, and Invoices. Keep in mind the formats used by these ERP systems are not “EDI-ready” – there needs to be data translation and formatting done in both directions to/from the language of EDI. For order creation/updating, the burden is then on your ERP software company to keep the EDI module current when you are looking at upgrading the software. If someone tells you they will create a custom program to create or update orders from EDI, you should run away.
- Communications Software
- Value Added Network (VAN)
Some trading partners require a “point-to-point” secure communication method such as Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) or AS2 (WalMart is a good example of a company that uses AS2 communication solely). These methods will require a 3rd-party software package to be installed at your site and configured with your trading partner to send/receive EDI transactions. For the TRG EDI Connector, we’ve integrated our software with a couple of standard 3rd-party solutions to handle all of these types of communication methods and we have it integrated turnkey with our software and your ERP system. The good news on these is that the software and setup is a one-time costs and, other than support costs, there are no ongoing fees like there are with a VAN.
- AS2, SFTP, OFTP and lots of other communication acronyms
Your trading partners will dictate the communication methods they support. Most companies require the use of a Value Added Network (VAN). The VAN handles secure data communications with your partners, regardless of the VAN they are using. All VANs can interconnect. So just because your trading partner uses the IBM Sterling VAN and another one uses the Liaison VAN, and another uses the GXS VAN, that does not mean you need to subscribe to every VAN (I have had prospects insist to me that this must be done – they were wrong). You can subscribe to the VAN that works best for you and they will interconnect with these other VANs for sending/receiving transactions. A VAN is like a cell phone data plan – you pay monthly based on usage. There are ways we can estimate your usage up-front and these plans can be adjusted once your actual usage becomes known, but there is typically a multi-year commitment on these VANs to get the best pricing.
- Data Mapping/Integration Software
We developed the TRG EDI Connector after ongoing frustration with the poor quality mapping and integration tools that were available. The EDI Connector has:
Highly flexible mapping capabilities (far beyond a straight-up mapping tool)
Auditing of EDI data and comparison to ERP data for pricing, revisions, part numbers, shipping locations, etc.
Email-driven audit reports to let you review and monitor all incoming and outgoing EDI transactions.
Analysis reporting for 830’s including the ability to net 862 triggers against 830 forecasts (if you need to do this manually you know what I’m talking about).
Can be scheduled/automated for processing of inbound and outbound transactions for true hands-off processing.
Extensive features and user-defined options that can be turned on/off to handle all the nuances that your trading partners throw at you.
Handling of drop-ship orders including automatic creation of ship-to’s and EDI profiles in the ERP system (Syteline only).
Handling of cumulative quantity analysis for 830 and 862 processing (a capability not included in Syteline ERP).
A method for handling non-EDI integrated transactions (spreadsheet downloads, XML data, etc.) and processing them through the same flow/channel as your EDI data.
Integration with SPS Commerce’s RSX Retail Standard for retail customers who are already using SPS Commerce as their EDI provider.
A mapping and integration tool like the TRG EDI Connector bridges the gap between the outside EDI world and your ERP system. A strong, solid knowledge of your ERP system, your EDI trading partners, and their nuances are required to build a truly high-quality integration software.
- Service and Support
Of course, you also need a highly-experience service provider to put together a turnkey solution that works for your company and that will be there to support it. I know a really good one (look at our home page). We’ve been around since 1995 and we’ve done many, many successful EDI implementations. Don’t hire someone who does EDI “on the side”; your service and support will also be “on the side”.