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“EDI” Comes Before “ERP”

When you’re replacing enterprise systems…

Remember the alphabet: “EDI” comes before “ERP”

Many organizations facing enterprise-wide systems upgrades link the EDI and ERP systems selection processes, even though this approach may end up taking more calendar time and exposing the organization to greater risk.  My colleague Jim O’Leary has reminded me that some organizations value the “interface compatibility” resulting from a tandem decision, and his point is valid.  However, there may be other benefits to implementing EDI first, benefits that may be much greater than that of interface compatibility (which is often an ERP system issue). Continue reading

What Can Exit Point Events Do for You?

Every business is looking to improve efficiency in daily operations.  With improved efficiency – costs will be cut and time will be saved.  The old saying “Time is money” still applies and this is exactly what exit point events can help you do.  When activated – the event waits in ready status.  When the activity occurs – an event is raised.  This event is what can save time and money in problem resolution.

The official definition for exit point events is the following:

Exit Point processing raises events in EBI when certain transactional activities occur.

This feature alerts you to these activities, provides relevant data, and helps you quickly identify and address errors.

As in previous releases of EBI – all translation errors continue to be logged in the EBI Auditor.  This new feature gives a form of action to these isolated conditions that normally are deep within the audit log / translation process.  The event alert should be customized to your needs with either email notice or launching a business process.  This feature could nearly eliminate the time previously required to search and find translation problems ultimately saving time and money! Continue reading

Fundamentals of the EDI Shipping Notice

Traditional EDI integration, in its’ simplest form, involves an exchange of core business transactions between two trading partner entities. The Shipping Notice or “ASN” (the “A” being for “Advanced”, although that’s not always the case) is a type of electronic document that is sent (for example) from a supplier (manufacturer) to a buyer, and precedes the shipment (and arrival) of products at the buyer’s location.  The products on the shipment would represent one or more purchase orders made by the buyer of the supplier, often combined into a single shipment.  The ASN notifies the buyer of the contents of the shipment; the buyer reconciles the received products against original purchase orders by using the ASN.  Primary advantages include the improvement of the ordering cycle and improved efficiencies in managing stock.

The Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) X12 document associated with the ASN is the 856. This transaction is structured using Hierarchical Levels (HL) where each level represents shipping and packaging levels.  For example, a shipment might consist of one or more orders; each order might have one or more cartons; each carton might have one or more items; and so on.  The ASN will detail contents of a shipment goods and contains information specific to the order, product descriptions and attributes, physical characteristics, type of packaging, markings, carrier information, configuration of goods within the equipment, and/or many other specifics to the shipment and representing purchase orders.

This information is generally sent electronically at (or about) the time the physical shipment departs, as it must arrive prior to the actual shipment. This makes it possible for the trading partner to review all ASN data before the physical shipment actually arrives, allowing them to schedule the receipt at the distribution center and identify any possible shortages from the shipment.  Technology also exists making it possible to scan the incoming shipments, which would then update inventory and reconcile the purchase order(s) saving manual time and effort, and ultimately saving money. Automation and integration of these various processes provides advantages with business logistics. As one might expect, for all of this to function as intended the ASN must contain accurate data.  Just as accurate data and synchronized ASN processes will provide efficiencies in the movement of products, inaccurate data and/or untimely processes can result in lost revenue and potential customers.

While the ASN is not a mandatory transaction for trading partners, it can be a very useful tool in shipping and receiving systems.  If implemented properly and completely, it can reduce supply chain and administrative costs by utilizing automated integration to all systems within an organization.

Demystifying AS2 Certificates

In Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), digital certificates can be used to secure data transfers between systems.  Certificates can encrypt the data transfer in multiple ways.  First, the data itself could be encrypted, making it unreadable by any receiving system unless it has the proper decryption key. Second, the communication channel that the data is being sent through could be encrypted.  Third, encryption could apply to both the data and communications channel.  It is common for certificates to secure AS2 communication (data encryption) or SSL connections (communication channel encryption). Continue reading

Best Practices for Mapping: Application Files and Fields

Successful EDI implementations must begin with the development and employment of efficient object naming conventions using “best practices”.  This will avoid aggravation and redevelopment at a later time.  “Doing it correctly the first time” is a most-relevant piece of advice.  This is of particular advantage when creating files (tables) to store EDI data (the implementation and deployment of EDI interface / staging files and in support of both inbound and outbound EDI transactions).

Continue reading