EDI-as-a-Service and If It’s Right for Your Business

This blog post is the first part of a series highlighting the best practices for EDI-as-a-Service in planning and evaluation.

EDI-as-a-ServiceWith more and more options than before for EDI, it’s important to know options come with positives and negatives in order to evaluate before making a decision.

One offering on the market is called EDI-as-a-Service, also known as EDI outsourcing or EDI managed services. What this service does is enable delegation of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to an outside service provider for provisioning, implementation and management activities. By utilizing a third party, businesses are able to focus on other activities while the provider can produce results rapidly while avoiding common errors.

How to Know if EDI-as-a-Service is a Fit

The first part of the research process for determining if EDI-as-a-Service is a viable option for your business is understanding that each situation is different and every business has unique needs. When planning and evaluating EDI services, keep in mind that operational simplicity comes at a cost. In knowing your internal strengths and capabilities, you’ll be able to better understand your abilities and needs.

If you’re still on the fence about self-managing EDI or if you should outsource your EDI needs, take a look at the chart below for a quick overview.

Factor

Choose EDI-as-a-Service if factor is:

Choose self-managed EDI if factor is:

Go-live urgency High Low-High
Strategic business value of EDI Low-Medium Medium-High
Number of trading partners Low-Medium Medium-High
Qualified IT resource availability Low Medium-High
Partner-side variability Low Medium-High
Internal integration customization Low-Medium Medium-High
Frequency of change Low Medium-High
Service level complexity Low Medium-High
  • Go-live urgency: Modest implementation requirements meaning few trading partners, etc., EDI-as-a-Service will require less time and effort than self-managed EDI.
  • Strategic business value of EDI: Information-driven businesses with strategic stakes in reliable, responsive EDI typically prefer the increased control available through self-managed EDI.
  • Number of trading partners: With hundreds or thousands of trading partners, businesses will experience higher change management and exception management costs either way. If your business is focused on customer service excellence, you may be able to provide better service at lower cost in supply-side and intermediary businesses with self-managed EDI over EDI-as-a-Service.
  • Qualified IT resource availability: Companies without EDI experience or available IT resources that are available to be trained are typically good fits for EDI-as-a-Service.
  • Partner-side variability: Having a wide range of implementation capabilities for intermediary and supply-side businesses that are able to accommodate transaction, protocol and service level demands of many customers are typically better fit for self-managed EDI.
  • Internal integration customization: For those who look to minimize manual processing errors and delays, integrating EDI processes directly with business-specific applications and data is more easily handled by self-managed EDI due to the last0mile integration requiring internal business and IT system knowledge.
  • Frequency of change: Self-managed EDI allows for greater control over implementation speed and costs for suppliers of commodity goods and services where there is commonly high partner turnover, with higher onboarding and maintenance urgency.
  • Service level complexity: When a higher degree of control is needed over exception-handling and change response, self-managed EDI is able to offer a better outcome than EDI-as-a-Service when large trading partners may impose strict service level conditions including charge-backs, vendor scorecard penalties or other negative consequences.

One option not mentioned above for consideration in deciding between EDI-as-a-Service and self-managed EDI is operating expense (opex) budgeting because it is available for both and is no longer the decision factor it once was.

There are many reasons EDI-as-a-Service or self-managed EDI can serve as a better fit for your business, and it’s important to foresee potential pitfalls before you make a solid decision. This post is part of a series of 10 pitfalls to avoid by better understanding all that’s involved in selecting the EDI option best suited for your business needs.

For more information about EDI-as-a-Service, download our “Best Practices for EDI-as-a-Service Planning and Evaluation” whitepaper.

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