Are You in EDI Hell – And Can You Escape?

Are You in EDI Hell – And Can You Escape?

If you’re a major retailer or manufacturer – or sell to one – chances are you have had, or still have, EDI (electronic data interchange) software running somewhere in your organization.

EDI can be useful and necessary, such as when your trading partner requires it. It works less well if you must pull the data you’re sharing from a relational database, and your trading partner must restore it to its relational form on receipt. In those cases, keeping the data in its original structured database form is a far more direct and efficient solution.

EDI also requires extensive configuration and coordination with your business partners.

This extra cost and effort can make it harder for you to bring on new suppliers who could help your business – or to sell to new customers attracted by your innovation, quality and low costs. That’s a burden you can’t afford.

If you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions, we suggest considering an alternative to EDI as a way to share supply chain information with your business partners.

1) Does it take weeks or months, rather than minutes or days, to bring on a new customer or supplier?
Buying and deploying EDI software, reconfiguring your internal systems and agreeing on data sharing methods with a new customer or supplier is a long, tedious process. This not only eats up expensive staff time, but makes you harder to do business with. In an age when speed and agility is everything, you owe it to yourself to see if there’s an easier and quicker way to share order and production databases with new partners.

2) Do you find yourself turning away potential suppliers – or customers – because it’s just too hard to share data with them?
Rather than go through the cost and delay of agreeing on how to use EDI, many customers or suppliers simply give up on new business partners. This is especially true if the customer needs parts or raw material ASAP to meet a sudden surge in demand. In this age of anywhere/anytime data access, you should make your partnering decisions based on business, not technical, considerations.

3) Are you bogged down in negotiations when you should be sharing data?
Using EDI requires agreeing with every new trading partner over everything from which firewall port to use to appropriate network and security protocols. That doesn’t count the time you’re spending fighting internal battles with security, legal and audit over every change required to implement EDI with every partner. This means weeks or months of hassle you could better spend filling orders and making money.

4) Are you burning staff time extracting and converting your data to the rigid form required by EDI?
This manual process is an error-prone waste of expensive staff time, and makes it harder to quickly adjust to sudden changes in production schedules. It’s no way to run a business in 2013.

5) Has it been more than five years since you took a hard look at whether you still need your EDI system?
Many organizations implemented EDI years or decades ago, and stick with it because of past investments, familiarity or because “It’s how we’ve always done it.” It’s bad enough if EDI is still weighing you down with excess licensing and technical costs. It’s a danger to your business if it’s getting in the way of selling to new customers (or sourcing from new providers) because it’s hard to share data with them.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we can help. Our DataPortal software enables secure, instant and effortless sharing of relational databases in their original, relational form across the Web. It’s as easy as downloading a flat file. No programming, configuration, firewall modification, data conversion or even client software installation is required. Since DataPortal transmit data over the Web, it takes advantage of the many accepted standards developed for the Web, eliminating the need to work out details with every trading partners. If you and your partners use databases to manage your data, DataPortal allows you to avoid EDI and share your data directly in its natural database form without unnecessary conversion to other formats.

This streamlined database sharing is available as software for purchase or as a scalable SaaS solution. You can request a quick demo here.

*image courtesy of JoshuaDavisPhotography on Flickr.com

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