Large retail customers (Walmart, Target) now drive EDI adoption. They simply inform their suppliers that EDI is mandatory for keeping their business.
Paperless document transfer
systems allow faster transactions with fewer errors; this might seem reason enough to migrate to EDI software, even without customer and vendor pressure.
But the improved performance that EDI can bring usually requires that software integration with back end software already be in place, as well as the capability to translate outgoing invoices into the varied EDI formats that customers' systems might require. Both requirements can be difficult and intimidating for a small enterprise to successfully implement. Any software integration project can encounter unexpected pitfalls, and the sheer number of document formats and transport protocols that EDI supports adds complexity that can be both daunting and confusing.
Transport protocols include HTTP and HTTPS, POP3 and SMTP, OFTP, SOAP, WebDAV, X.400, and EDIINT AS1, AS2, AS3 and AS4. The file formats supported by EDI are also very numerous, and include comma-separated value files and EURITMO as well as:
Nonetheless, many enterprises do attempt to individually accommodate the format requirements of each customer and vendor, and to establish integration between incoming EDI data and often legacy accounting and business systems. Homegrown works-for-us EDI software integration is still being used but is no longer a top EDI software solution. Companies just starting with EDI tend to use web or fax based services. The trading partner sends the order to the service which then emails, faxes, or provides a web interface to retrieve the order. Costs per order can be as much as $20, but the implementation costs are minimal.
- ANSI X12
- GS1 eCOM EANCOM
Fortunately, the emergence of cloud and Software-as-a-Service providers means that small businesses and understaffed information technology departments have an alternative to pulling their hair out over EDI integration with their existing back end accounting software. A number of vendors offer managed and hosted EDI solutions with the EDI capability your business partners are asking you for, and to provide it in much less time, and with much less stress, than this might otherwise take.
Here are some of the most prominent vendors, and a quick look at some of their services:
has a managed cloud EDI solution that natively integrates with Microsoft, Sage and AccountMate
software. Their 3PL Link
product provides an electronic link from your accounting system to your third party fulfillment providers. 123 EDI
has software, EDI Engine, that supports all versions of all standards for EDI software, and can translate XML and flat files as well. 123 EDI also offer both hosted and managed EDI. Their software accommodates many interfaces, for example Quickbooks, Peachtree, Sage, UPS, DHL
and FedEx. EDI Consulting Group
offers many EDI software integration solutions tailored to specific tasks, such as FAX 2 EDI and PDF2EDI
and EDI LINK, a bridge from EDI to your accounting software that generates sales orders from incoming customer purchase orders and translates outgoing invoices into EDI data formats. EDI Consulting supports all EDI formats including X-12, UN-EDIFACT, and XML. We do a lot of business with this EDI provider.
Which of these vendor is best for you? If your business needs EDI today, outsourced solutions may be the place at least to start. If you have the time available to map out and implement an organized and incremental roll-out, you may want to keep at least some of your EDI capability in-house, if your information technology department has the required capabilities.You may also want to bring fresh eyes in to analyse your EDI needs and capabilities. Call PC Methods Inc. at the number above and we will be happy to discuss your EDI requirements and potential designs for a solution that fits your business.