Category Archives: Data Integration

11 Ways Food & Grocery Suppliers Use Data Integration as an Advantage

High transaction volumes, limited product shelf life, variable demand, thin margins, and competition from non-traditional outlets are just some of the endemic factors that drive Food and Grocery suppliers toward finding more efficient means of managing their operations.

Food Grocery SupplyBusinesses need the scalability, efficiency, and time savings to respond to unexpected demand, minimize time to market, improve vendor scorecard ratings, and achieve revenue and profitability targets with predictability.

To remain competitive, reduce process bottlenecks that lower costs, and quickly satisfy partner demands, Food and Grocery suppliers must eliminate expensive, piecemeal data integration technology and embrace a unified solution that makes important business goals easier to attain:

Achieve transaction visibility and traceability
Safety regulations, including tracking of products from foreign sources, requires timely access to supply chain data. A central integration platform provides real-time visibility and alerts so you can verify orders, shipments, and other events and respond more quickly to exceptions.

Reduce processing cycle times for perishables and other short shelf-life items
Streamline time-critical processes by integrating directly with ERP, warehouse management, and other applications. Turn around responses to partners in near-real time.

Implement demand-driven replenishment
Support VMI, JIT replenishment, and other demand-driven processes, by triggering replenishment from demand signals generated by RFID events or POS transactions.

Gain flexibility to integrate with trading partners on their terms
Connect with retailers, suppliers, and other trading partners using their preferred protocols and document types. A centralized integration platform makes it easy for others to do business with you by implementing custom integrations faster and with less effort.

On-board new customers and suppliers fast
A centralized integration platform accelerates delivery of application data and process changes, so you can engage sooner with trading partners.

Comply more easily with key partner requirements
Implement Order-to-Cash, Procure-to-Pay, and other B2B processes, including Ship Destination Quantity (SDQ) and other specialized transactions.

Broaden your reach to include less technically sophisticated partners
Easily integrate with small or off-shore partners that are not EDI-capable by exchanging spreadsheets, flat files, and other desktop office suite-compatible documents.

Integrate directly with internal applications
Support multiple methods to integrate with all your applications, including both commercial and in-house developed software, on-premise or in the cloud, with one set of tools.

Provide secure, on-demand data access to trading partners
Create web services that expose order status, shipment status, inventory availability, and other information, on-demand.

Synchronize your product catalog data
Synchronize catalog data with retailers using EDI, Global Data Synchronization, flat files, or third party catalog applications.

Gain capacity to handle large documents and demand peaks
Except high-volume data transactions, process very large documents and handle very high transaction rates.

Learn about how Food and Grocery suppliers use EXTOL integration software as a data hub to automatically manage the exchange of any internal or trading partner message, order, payment, or data transaction and eliminate risk of process bottlenecks, redundant tasks, and costly errors.

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Process Automation & Event Management

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

With companies of all sizes facing the “do more with less” imperative, it’s not surprising that process automation has become a common trend and technology solutions that manage events based on business rules are being given further consideration.

With an automation tool in place, transactions and processes can be event-driven, scheduled or triggered based on various business rules. This ability to seamlessly establish data and process synchronization rules using complex algorithms puts company success first by leaving far less up to chance with manual handling. By replacing manually initiated processes with software, companies can realize a reduction in errors, an enhanced work and process flow, lower expenses and improved efficiency.

What’s more, business rules trigger actions based on transaction receipt, non-receipt, generation or errors. Just make sure that your chosen solution provides the ability to design and configure automated procedures that generate and route events, actions, alerts or aborts based on errors or missed timelines. Continue reading

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Ease of Use

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

The term “ease-of-use” undoubtedly carries a different meaning today than it did even a decade ago. Think smartphones and tablets for example. A simple tap of a button almost instantaneously delivers the application and content we desire – no training required.

While integration software may lag a bit behind our smartphones, it is still possible to implement intuitive and easy-to-use solutions that get the job done quickly and with minimal effort. You simply have to be mindful and do your homework before selecting a solution.

Integration software, particularly programs that meet very complex requirements, can appear overwhelming at first. And while you can begin using integration software without training, a bit of online or phone-based training can pay dividends as there are proper ways to navigate and leverage tools more effectively and efficiently. Continue reading

Integration Solution Must-Haves: Expandability & Scalability

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

One thing that’s fairly certain about your integration needs – they are likely to change over time. And to get the most of any integration solution, it’s smart to factor in how your solution handles scalability and function expansion before making an initial purchase. For example, some vendors include all functions in a single model, requiring you to pay for the entire feature set even if you don’t plan to use all of them. Others approach things in a more modular fashion, with modules that allow you to ”pay as you go”, turning on feature modules when you need them. This can save you significant capital dollars at install time.

Additionally, while most companies may start small, it’s safe to say that don’t plan to stay startup sized forever. This is where scalability comes into play. It’s important to purchase integration software that is able to grow with you as your company expands capabilities for different lines of business, as well as adding integration across databases, applications and trading partners.

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Integration Solution Must-Haves: Automated Object Generation

This blog post is part of an ongoing series encompassing the top must-haves when selecting an integrated solution.

Companies spend a lot of time and effort on the design phase of a typical integration project. While using an object or model-driven approach – discussed earlier in this series – to set up transactions, processes and associated rules increases efficiency, automated object generation provides enhanced performance and reduces downstream workload.

Using a model-driven approach, companies can build objects with given rules and store them in the object library for re-use. However, with automated object generation, it’s possible to generate objects using metadata, sample data or other machine-readable data. For instance, you could generate an EDI trading partner profile based on ISA envelope information, or even generate a purchase order document definition by using an X12 850 file. In addition, objects can be generated using heuristically-driven algorithms.

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