Tag Archives: Data Integration

Gathering Requirements

Requirements Gathering for Integration Projects

Requirements Gathering is a complex process with the purpose of defining a list of capabilities that we expect to meet, once the project is completed.  Given that very “business-y” definition, let’s explore the process of Requirements Gathering and how it relates to Integration projects.  In this blog, I will start to address the approach I use to gather requirements and then we’ll apply that approach in subsequent blogs to use cases.

Simply creating a punch-list of features/capabilities/behaviors is not enough to fully define the requirements of an Integration project. Just meeting the defined expectations of A, B, C and so on requires a much deeper dive into what is truly going on, both within the organization and externally with other integration partners (customers, vendors and industry consortiums).

The Requirements Gathering process usually starts when a project is created.  In formal organizations, this initiates with the approval of a project charter, identifying a project Sponsor.  In smaller organizations, this can be either a tactical (reactive) or a strategic (forward-thinking) effort directed by a department head or line-of-business manager.  Once the project is initiated, the scope of the project is usually defined and documented. Continue reading

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.

Don’t just get by. Get Smart.

Linking systems through a single integration platform gets your business moving faster

Over the past few years, there have been many changes in the landscape of enterprise integration.  In the mid to late 90s, there were multiple tools to handle the different integration requirements for data, business to business (B2B) and application to application (A2A).  This meant if your company had to meet all of these integration requirements, you had to either code your own solutions or purchase and support multiple products to solve that one problem, Integration.

Your first integration requirement may have been B2B.  Why?  Mainly because your largest trading partner told you to do it.  They were changing the way they do business and requested that you stop calling in and faxing your orders to them and instead, start sending them electronically.  Most often they would specify the data format, which could be EDI or flat file and later XML.  This single request, with possibly an unrealistic deadline, lead to a quick fix to accommodate this partner.   It wasn’t planned; but it had to happen.  Current projects had to be put on hold and re-prioritized in order to fulfill this request.  Once implemented, the fire is out and you could go back to business.  But, as time goes on, more and more of your trading partners are requesting to do business this way.   This tactical solution soon became an integral part of your normal business activities. Continue reading

Rulesets: Much More Than Data Movers

As data exchange grows at an explosive rate, moving data between formats and systems occurs in many ways.  Common data transformations involve data format conversions between EDI, XML, flat files, databases and more recently spreadsheets.  In an application-to-application (A2A) environment, data typically is converted between interface files and back-end databases such as ERP systems.  In the EXTOL Business Integrator, we call the objects that facilitate these movements Rulesets. 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