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Successful EDI Implementation for Your Organisation

By
Ben Taylor
December 1, 2022

EDI is an abbreviation for electronic data interchange. Introducing EDI into your business allows you to conduct business operations that are traditionally communicated by paper through digital and electronic resources. 

Electronic data interchanges provide an efficient and accurate method for data and document transfer between one company to another. But the implementation of EDI across your business can be complex. Alongside many benefits, come many common EDI integration problems. 

To help you get the most out of your EDI programmes, here is a list of factors you will need to consider before implementing EDI into your business, if you are implementing the EDI in house, or outsourcing to a managed solution that is not fully managed.  
 

Prepare the organisational structure 

An organisational structure refers to the way the business operates and runs. Organisational structure allocates, coordinates and directs tasks through the business chain to achieve the goals and aims of an organisation. 

Developing and preparing the correct organisational structure for your business when implementing EDI is a crucial factor.

Using internal or external EDI coordinators who are experts at installing and delivering EDI allows your business to benefit from in-depth knowledge and experience. 

Senior management teams with IT and technical experience and who are committed to the EDI implementation process are required for ongoing support. The dedicated team will also be responsible for the initial installation and implementation of the EDI system. 

All teams should remain in constant communication with all aspects of the company that have access to the EDI programme to educate and assist with the EDI running. 

 

Review where EDI has the greatest potential 

EDI implementation is popular in the supply chain industry but where does EDI have the greatest potential within your business? 

Identify areas of your business that are currently suffering whether that be from natural human error, technological neglect, or high operational costs. 

EDI is able to increase business efficiency, improve business cycle speeds, improve accuracy, and lower operating costs through the digital automation of documents and data. 
 

Conduct an in-depth analysis 

By conducting an in-depth analysis, your business can understand where your organisation can benefit the most from EDI implementation. 

In-depth research across the business can reveal which departments are most prepared for EDI implementation, where EDI implementation will be the most cost-effective, and where EDI implementation will deliver the greatest savings. 

The EDI implementation process should enhance the business cycle in addition to automating it. The final report of your in-depth analysis should mention and consider the scope of the project, weaknesses and strengths of EDI as well as any current and existing systems, the implementation schedule, other researched alternatives, and financial data.  
 

Complete a comprehensive system specification 

By analysing the findings of the in-depth research, your business can complete and create a comprehensive system specification. The system specification should provide an EDI software provider with the requirements to develop a specialised EDI system. 

The creator will need to know the expected volume and traffic expected to pass through the EDI solution, the level of customisation and specialisation your EDI requires, and the internal network capacity that can support an EDI. 
 

Select an EDI Network Provider

An EDI network provider is a company that makes EDI software and services available for other companies to implement throughout their business. 

When selecting an EDI provider you should ensure they understand your brand or business requirements as well as ensure they have adequate technical installation knowledge. 

EDI network providers should be prepared to train, teach, and educate internal staffing teams on how to operate EDI programmes and offer and deliver customer support at the time of implementation and in the future. 

Choosing an EDI provider who has the sufficient and relevant industry experience and a well-rounded portfolio of projects can also benefit your business. 

Ensuring your business receives a simple, flexible and dependable service is paramount when selecting an EDI network provider. 

 

Integrate the EDI system 

Integrating your EDI system with current programmes and applications can be the greatest challenge throughout the entire process. 

Extracting and uploading existing data such as invoices, credit notes, customer information, and business documents to the EDI programme allows for the elimination of manual recording and handling. 

An EDI transition expert should convert your documents and data and install the software for sending and receiving data. This can be a difficult task to achieve, especially if your business has many partners, clients, and specific system requirements. 

 

Understand the data structure 

With new EDI implementation comes a new data structure that should be understood across the business. 

Use your in-depth data to learn what and how you need the EDI systems to work in order to meet your business requirements. 

It is important that the system's primary functions and data structure are correct for your business to achieve improved working.

Be sure to identify specific needs of your business in addition to common and obvious requests. For example, invoice numbers and customer purchase order numbers may be an obvious requirement to include in the EDI data structure, but your business may also benefit from the inclusion of information specific to your organisation.  

 

Complete data mapping 

Data mapping is the process of connecting data a data field from one source to a data field in another source. During this process, you take a set of data and assign or map its destination. 

The overall aim of data mapping is to make an organised, structured, and accessible space for your company's data. Data mapping is used during EDI implementation to direct information and determine where it ends up and whether it needs to be reformatted. 

Your EDI coordinator can define and lay out the map to create standardised data formats that filter and deceiver information input into the system. Using a standardised format improves the system's performance and requires less custom interference and programming.
 

Trial the EDI with a pilot project 

The implementation of EDI can be a costly investment. Your organisation should choose to test its developed EDI system to refine its functions, discover the benefits, and ensure the new system can integrate with partners and customers. 

Setting up and trialling a pilot project with a select number of partners to ensure documents are received correctly and accurately, the system can adequately manage demand and traffic, and that users are satisfied with the EDI performance. 
 

Roll out the EDI 

Once your EDI system is set up, you can begin to roll out the EDI to external organisations and trading partners. 

After the initial installation of EDI within your business, it is important to maintain and manage the system with necessary programme updates and reports. 

A skilled IT expert should be on hand to manage and monitor troubleshooting issues to ensure the seamless transfer of documents and data, respond to external and internal enquiries, and develop data maps and structural updates if, and when, required. 

 

Outsourcing to a fully managed solution

Outsourcing to a fully managed solution, such as TrueCommerce, makes the EDI implementation process smoother and eliminates pain points.  
TrueCommerce are EDI experts who can connect your supply chain from end to end and scale your business. 

When you outsource to us, a successful EDI implementation usually consists of the following steps:

Project kick-off meetings 

We’ll kick off the project with meetings between our team and yours, in order to ensure that we fully understand your business requirements and expectations. 

Requirements analysis

We’ll analyse your needs and requirements, to help us build the best, most effective solution for your business. At this stage, we’ll also outline what we’ll need from you to ensure successful implementation.

Solution build

Once we understand your requirements, we’ll get to work building your solution, including developing connectivity maps and conducting tests.  

Go live 

We’ll roll out the solution, ensuring that your team have the on-going support they need to perform. 

Business as usual….but better! 

For more information about EDI integrations and implementations across your supply chain network, get in touch today!