EDI Academy – Steps to implement EDI in your company

EDI Academy

Throughout the EDI Academy series we have found out about electronic data interchange, how it works and what the benefits are. Now we take a look at the steps to take to roll out EDI in your company. What do you need to bear in mind to ensure that a technological project of such great scope as this goes forward successfully? This is the path you should follow.

  1. Define the managers

Implementing EDI in your company is an investment in terms of time and money. So, it is important to plan the project down to the smallest detail. The first step consists of organizing the in-house team and designating one or several managers. This figure will be responsible for closing the budget, making the most important decisions and coordinating EDI rollout in the different departments affected. They will also be the main liaison between company and technology provider.

  1. Analysing how the business operates

If you have already decided you want to implement EDI in your company, you should justify the reason. Analyse how your business processes currently work. What volume of data is exchanged? How long do your employees spend on these tasks? What is the rate of errors occurring in these communications?” etc.

Performing a thorough analysis will be very useful to you if you ever have to explain this technological leap to your superiors in the company. But, beyond that, this step is crucial in subsequently choosing the right solution. Once you have in-depth knowledge of how communication with your trading partners is managed, you can draw up a new strategy to optimize it through EDI.

  1. Choosing your technology provider

Although there are many companies engaged in electronic data interchange, not all provide the same service. When it comes to choosing a technology provider to roll out EDI, you should research their success stories, experience in sectors such as yours and in companies of a similar size, international capacity, security certifications and scalability.

Other aspects which are also very important include having a powerful and interoperable value-added network (VAN), service in several languages (if working in a multinational), quality of technical support and option of installing other value-added solutions in the mid-term.

EDICOM meets all these requirements, which is why we now have more than 14,000 customers from all over the world. In this post you have further details on points you need to weigh up before engaging a technology provider.

  1. Choosing the most suitable solution

As we have seen in other chapters of EDI Academy, there are several different types of EDI. Analysing how your company works will also serve to identify which solution is most appropriate. So, you can choose between Web EDI or Integrated EDI; between a local solution or a globalized one.

  1. Setting the methodology and working terms

Once the previous decisions have been taken, it will be time for the EDI manager to agree the working methodology with the technology provider. At this point, it is indispensable to set deadlines for each phase of the work and leave a margin of time for possible unforeseen circumstances.

Also, keep in mind that it is always advisable to run a pilot project for the EDI solution to check that everything is working properly before going live.

  1. Start working with EDI and open the door to other technologies

Implementing EDI in your business will mean a change of organization, since many tasks will become automatic. In the medium term, this technology will start to bring many advantages, such as lower economic costs or increased productivity. These benefits will hone the company’s competitive edge, making it better prepared to face other technological challenges.

EDI Academy – EDI Mapping: The electronic data translator

EDI Academy

In previous issues of EDI Academy we discussed the different formats and protocols that may be used in electronic data interchange. For the relationship between the two partners to take place in an automated and secure manner, it is necessary to transform the files into a common standard, which assimilates the sender and recipient IT systems. But how is this transformation process carried out? How is it possible to convert any document into a standardized message?

To achieve this aim, it is necessary to perform a translation of the data structures. We shall have to adapt any proprietary file (in csv format, txt, idoc, etc.) to an XML/EDI format (EDIFACT, X21, XML, VDA, TRADACOM, etc.) and vice versa. This way we ensure that the corporate ERP or internal management system will be able to integrate the data automatically, so that the user can easily access them.

What is EDI Mapping?

EDI Mapping is the data mapper or, what is the same, the translator that transforms the structures of the files into the standardized formats that enable an EDI relationship.

The IT engineers from EDICOM’s R+D+i laboratory have developed an application which not only translates the data into the standard required by each partner, but also does so in a way that is immediate and transparent for the user. This is the EbiMap tool (Edicom Business Integrator Mapping Tool).

How does EbiMap work?

This application is part of the EDICOM B2B Cloud Platform and is managed by a team of technicians to ensure that the transformation process is successful.

This is how EbiMap works:

  • Corporate users work from their own ERP and select the documents they want to exchange with their trading partner.
  • Automatically, the EDICOM platform recognises the recipient system and translates the files into a standard accepted by the receiving ERP. The process is immediate and invisible to the user.
  • The recipient receives the documents directly in their ERP, where they are integrated into the internal management system.

In the opposite communication direction, EbiMap also acts transparently when a new document arrives, transforming and integrating it into the system.

What are the advantages of data mapping?

Translating the data structures is crucial for the EDI relationship to run smoothly and to take advantage of all the benefits this technology can provide for companies.

EbiMap’s main advantages are:

  • As the tool works unassisted and is a universal data mapper, the user can communicate with any partner without difficulties or added tasks.
  • EbiMap adapts to the EDI or e-invoicing solution from EDICOM, which in turn is integrated with the ERP or in-house management system. This way, company workers have no need to modify their working processes or handle new environments.
  • Control and validation. In addition to translating the data, the application includes tools which validate the content and structures of documents sent or received. The aim is to detect any possible mistakes or inconsistencies in the information.
  • Multi-standard. EbiMap can handle multiple data structures and versions of the same message. This makes it an ideal tool for e-commerce with all types of trading partners, regardless of the activity sector, company size or location.

EDI Academy – Why outsource EDI to a trusted provider

EDI Outsourcing

Every day, companies waste time and resources on tasks which are not their main activity and which, moreover, bring them no added value. In the long-term, these actions constitute an obstacle to business growth. So, in this edition of EDI Academy we discuss a trend taking hold worldwide – outsourcing. With outsourcing, companies can focus actions on their core business, while other outside organizations take care of the added activities.

Outsourcing to a trusted provider is part of this business-focusing strategy. This is one way to relieve them from managing their B2B platforms, from all the associated tasks entailed and, most importantly, from having to administer their technology resources.

Backup copies, servers, controlling errors, databases registering new partners, maintenance… Any activity related with the electronic data interchange solution is left in the hands of an outside provider. This is what is known as EDI outsourcing, an approach that lets you maximize the benefits of this business technology, ranging from cost savings to increased productivity.

How EDI Outsourcing works

The Global Outsourcing service from EDICOM is designed for total delegation of EDI management and e-invoicing in conditions of maximum trust. A specialized technician acts as an advanced user of the company’s communications platform and manages all parameters of the B2B e-commerce solution.

In the event of any incident or error cropping up, this administrator also coordinates the solution to the problem with the support team. In other words, company employees are relieved of an important work burden.

But what specific activities can the company delegate to the Outsourcing service?

  • Solution configuration and EDI platform rollout.
  • Error or alarm handling and processing.
  • Control of communications and unassisted processes.
  • Defining profiles in the communications network.
  • Partner parameterization.
  • Coordinating initial interchanges through the company’s test framework.
  • Controlling the information flow between the company and new partners joining the platform.
  • Opening up gateways between different communications networks.
  • Constant updating of backup data copies and information security.

Outsourcing all these EDI-related tasks gives a boost to productivity in different company areas, from the IT department to admin. As a result, economic costs are reduced and growth encouraged for the business, which now has greater resources for development.

How to choose a trusted technology provider

Although EDI outsourcing entails great benefits for businesses, it also involves certain risks. Companies leave highly confidential information and the responsibility of knowing how to manage it in the hands of a third party. So, it is crucial to choose a trusted technology provider.

When it comes to choosing the most suitable partner to outsource EDI, aspects such as technological capacity, support, safety certifications or experience must be taken into account. We expand the information in this other issue of EDI Academy.

EDI Academy – The Vendor Portal: How to Integrate the Reception of All of Your Electronic Invoices

Edi Academy

Large companies that already utilize EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) integrated management systems know about the advantages it provides and the impact it has on costs, the reduction of time and security in terms of handling information.

When some companies use an EDI integrated management system and others don’t, mismatches and confusion occur when receiving documents as well as when handling information since companies have different systems for receiving and managing information from different channels. This reality poses challenges for many companies.

These challenges make it clear that a real need exists for companies to use EDI with their partners. This is why EDICOM’s Vendor portal was created.

How does a company integrate invoices from its suppliers?

It’s possible that small and medium-sized companies do not exchange their business documents electronically for reasons such as the volume of documents and the resources available to the company. A possible solution to deal with this problem is the implementation of a web portal directed to those suppliers with an average or low emission of invoices. It would allow them to enter required data via a web form on our website.

EDICOM makes it possible for large companies to utilize an online environment to publish their purchase orders, one from which its trading partners can generate and send documents such as delivery notices and invoices which will be integrated into the companies’ management systems. The portal allows companies to implement a two-way flow of information, making the pre shipment of purchase orders to suppliers possible. This happens automatically from the company’s management system. This way, purchase orders act as a document base allowing the company to reuse the information from the original order to issue the final invoice.

To put this solution into practice, a large company can make the portal available to its partners at no cost. The portal is accessible via the web with a username and password. On the portal’s platform, documents are configured to exchange between parties by using templates with validation mechanisms that guarantee that the registered information is what the recipient requires.  When the supplier receives an order through the portal, the order form is filled out using pre-configured templates. The document is processed and is sent via EDI in a structured format so it can be integrated with the recipient’s management system.

What benefits does it offer suppliers? 

This solution offers advantages for suppliers such as process automation, the ability to integrate management systems, the traceability of documents and control over transactions.

  • Two-way: Can be used to send purchase orders to your network of suppliers.
  • Invoice issuing assistant: Purchase orders received are taken as the basis to launch the invoice issuing process. This way, the invoices generated take the order data as reference, streamlining and simplifying the task of creating new documents for the supplier.
  • Importing invoices: It is possible to integrate data file importing functionalities. This way, if your supplier is able to generate a structured XML file, or CSV, text, etc., they can implement an import wizard to simplify the invoice issuing process.
  • Legal: The portal implements validation mechanisms that check compliance of the invoice generated with the technical legal specifications in force in each country.

It also allows suppliers to more efficiently organize their billing cycle and receipts. It facilitates the processing of documents and immediately sends invoices through electronic data interchange. This means that the invoice arrives quicker and shortens the billing cycle. Furthermore, a digital system decreases errors that may appear due to incorrect data registered or errors in the interpretation of some documents.

Automate the exchange of business documents with all your suppliers using the EDICOM’s Vendor portal.

EDI Academy – How to Send Electronic Documents to Partners Without an EDI Solution?

EDI Academy BusinessMail

Previous articles for EDI Academy talked about the advantages of electronic document exchange between different partners in a business relationship. But what happens when the recipient doesn’t have an EDI platform? Should we go back to traditional delivery methods? Fortunately, this common problem has a solution and it’s called Business@Mail.

What is Business @ Mail?

Business@Mail is a service designed by EDICOM that allows sending electronic invoices and other documents, structured or not, to partners who do not have a technological solution to receive files.

Its operation is very simple. The issuer performs the necessary electronic transactions from its B2B EDI solution just as it does in the usual way. Automatically, the platform detects that the receiver of this data does not have an EDI platform and publishes them securely in the portal Business@Mail.

Next the recipient receives a notification that he or she has received documents that have not been consulted yet. From then on, the recipient can access the documents by connecting to the web portal using the username and password set beforehand.

In order to have greater control over the delivery of the document, the issuer periodically receives updates about the status of the documents sent to its partner. There are four possible statuses:

  • Confirmation that data has been published
  • Notification to recipient
  • Documents processed / consulted by the recipient
  • Documents not addressed by the recipient

What are the advantages of Business@Mail?

The main advantage of Business@Mail is that it allows companies 100% electronic communication regardless of the technological level of their partners. This avoids the heterogeneity of digital and paper documents, which entails complicated management and hinders the ability to store information correctly.

However, this is not the only benefit of Business@Mail. Its use also offers these advantages:

  • Immediacy and security. The documents are published on the web portal instantly and maintain all the security guarantees of any EDI relationship, which is something that would be lost when using email or physical documents.
  • Traceability. The issuer controls the information that it sent to its partner at all times.
  • Electronic storage. The files are stored in the solution for as long as the law requires and is controlled with an advanced electronic signature. In the case of invoices, for example, this prevents printing and physical storage, as they remain available for consultation at any time with the same legal validity as a paper document.
  • Publication of all types of data. Business @ Mail is prepared to send documents in four formats: standardized with a digital signature, structured without a signature, graphics (pdf, jpg, etc.) and mixed (standardized with a digitally signed pdf).
  • Free for the receiver. This service has no cost to recipients, which is especially important for the small partners as well as partners who cannot afford to use an EDI solution.