Massachusetts based software company RedTail Solutions is a long-time provider of EDI solutions. Recently they published a paper (which you can download here) entitled “Implementing EDI for the First Time” that provides some simple steps to getting started and engaging your organization for an EDI implementation.
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is simply a common set of technology protocols between companies that enables electronic interfacing with many of your suppliers, vendors or customers. It’s a common way to transmit forms and data including purchase orders, sales orders, shipping notices and other common business documents.
Following are a few of their key points on Getting Started, and then, on Engaging Your Organization for an EDI deployment:
Getting Started: Planning, Red Tail notes, is as always essential. Some of your own internal processes will be changed along the way. Here’s what to do in your planning stage:
- Define which trading partners to implement and in what sequence
- Identify trading partner contacts, resources and required documents
- Summarize results of your implementation discovery process with your EDI provider
- Outline integration requirements for your EDI/ERP system, including custom tailoring
- Define roles for functional teams and management
- Describe roles for internal/external tech resources
- Establish timelines and milestones.
Engaging Your Organization: EDI will change how some of your staff (sales, accounting, order fulfillment) will work. Communication is critical in this stage. Functional teams and management should work together to present:
- Why are we using EDI?
- (Labor/error reduction; improved ROI from ERP; support business growth; as a platform for other ROI like Warehouse Management (WMS), etc.)
- How the quote-to-cash (or at least, order-to-cash) process will change post-EDI
- What steps and sequences will we need to follow for EDI?
- How much time will it take?
- How will each team member be involved?
Red Tail’s report goes on to talk about installation… activating and maintaining trading relationships… being a good supplier… and managing change in your organization. You can see the full report, linked above, for the rest of their advice on EDI implementation.