Work to Predict Future Needs and Lifecycle Framework

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

As we discussed in the first post of this series, there are more deployment options to consider to most effectively and efficiently manage your EDI. It’s important to fully understand these alternatives before making a decision.

Take Inventory of Current and Future Needs
If you’ve decided that EDI-as-a-Service is best for your business needs, it’s important to think about what your current needs are and future needs will be in order to most accurately assess what services you require.

Since EDI management is usually a multi-year investment, take into account future needs such as:

  • How many trading partner connections you need and what type
  • Amount of transaction types you need, including non-standard ones such as proprietary XML, flat file or spreadsheet document exchange
  • What kind of “last-mile” integration you need with enterprise applications and data
  • Average peak and transaction processing requirements
  • Information that will be needed in order to monitor service delivery and results

In addition, be sure to distinguish between changes to your initial EDI implementation and new requirements. Understanding that you may not be able to predict exactly what the future holds, look for providers with broad capabilities and agreement terms who can provide you with the flexibility needed as your needs change.

Lifecycle Framework to Evaluate EDI-as-a-Service
When determining which EDI-as-a-Service model and option you’d like to proceed with, the many services may be confusing without a common basis for evaluation.

A simple four-step lifestyle framework to consider for EDI-as-a-Service is:

  • Gathering and Planning: Gather TP specs/data, analyze requirements, size the environment, configure EDI infrastructure, and plan, schedule and staff EDI implementation
  • Design and Implementation: Provision partner connections, map transaction data, integrate with enterprise applications and data, test/deploy and manage go-live
  • Monitoring and Management: Monitor activity, handle exceptions, manage service levels, report results and archive/purge logs
  • Change Management and Maintenance: Provision new partners, configure new transactions, upgrade document versions, upgrade app/data interfaces, and maintain platform and middleware

EDI-as-a-Service provides a variety of options, which may use different terms when referring to the same capabilities. In using a lifecycle framework, you’ll be able to more easily cut through the jargon and focus only on the services your business requires.

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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