Blockchain, edi and ecommerce, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Expert Insights, EDI Articles

Blockchain technology is poised to have a revolutionary impact on the way we transact business, particularly the exchange of business document transactions commonly referred to as EDI (Electronic Data Interchange).

Traditional accounts receivable processes result in vendors and customers having their own set of truths about the transactions that occurred. Reconciling those transactions from two independent ledgers does not always lead both parties to the same conclusion.

This is where blockchain technology, also referred to as "the block," comes in. Mistakes, misunderstandings and other problems that commonly require weeks and months to unwind are detected during the insertion of the transaction into the Block. Sounds great, doesn't it?

There are nuances to the technology but understanding its strengths, weaknesses and interoperability with EDI and ERP solutions is key.

Read "Blockchain Technology Impact on EDI and ERP Systems" to better understand this groundbreaking technology, why its the future of error-free transaction processing and how you may be able to leverage it.

Download the Blockchain for EDI Brief

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Exact Software Integration, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Vendor edi, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

trucking_supplier_side_EDI_smWhen most SMBs think about implementing EDI with suppliers there is a common belief that you need to be forced into EDI by enterprise customers or other changes to business requirements.  However, EDI is gaining momentum in becoming a non-mandated technology, delivering significant ROI for both customers and suppliers.

Implementing EDI with suppliers will minimize error-related costs.  By opting to transact electronically with suppliers, carriers or public warehouses, SMBs can eliminate unnecessary labor and paperwork. Take for example ASN management and integration: vendors can send you an ASN at the time of shipment that is integrated into your purchasing, inventory and billing applications.

Large enterprises often mandate their suppliers to do EDI because it saves money, which goes straight to the bottom line.  The same can be said for SMBs and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Continue reading this article

EDI Expert Insights, Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Microsoft Dynamics Community, Dynamics ERP Integration, Vendor edi, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

Top10EDIMistakes_thumbnail

When a company is about to embark on an EDI project, whether it’s to implement a new EDI solution or improving an existing one, the effort can be riddled with complex and expensive errors. Get a quick snapshot of the most common EDI mistakes in this infographic and read the full executive brief for an in-depth discussion on how these mistakes can impact your business.

 

Read the full executive brief for details on each mistake and how they could impact your EDI project.

Get the "Top 10 Mistakes When   Selecting an EDI Solution" Brief

EDI Expert Insights, Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Exact Software Integration, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, EDI Articles

Buy-Build-1Choosing an EDI software solution for your company is a serious undertaking. The right choice results in a smooth and painless process with strong positive ROI. The wrong choice can have detrimental effects for years with poor ROI and ongoing operational and support issues. One key question we often hear is “Should we build it or buy it?”.

 Commercial solutions (the buy option), are usually the best option for almost all software decisions assuming the solution can meet the business requirements. Commercial solutions are typically the most cost-effective choice since you are spreading the cost of development and ongoing maintenance over a larger population of companies. Unfortunately, they don’t always appear lower cost as many costs of custom solutions are not factored into the cost analysis.

Custom solutions (the build option) are ideally perfectly focused solutions with little or no “bloatware” to add confusion and operational overhead. There is a percentage of businesses that can benefit from custom EDI solutions, it is extremely low as the future business requirements have to be clearly understood and relatively simplistic. In today’s business economy, with the emergence of omni-channel selling, increasing sophisticated supply chain activities and increasing expectations of business partners that want to eliminate human activities from business transaction processes – predictable and simplistic are not the norm.

Understanding the real risks of a custom solution is critical to making the right decision. Download the brief to decide which is right for your company.

 Get the "Choosing an EDI Solution: Build or Buy?" Executive Brief

Dynamics NAV 2013, Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, EDI Articles

Missed the 10 Best Practices webinar? Get the highlights in this infographic and watch the recorded webinar.

Glenn McPeak, Dynamics EDI subject matter expert here at Data Masons, presented 10 EDI Best Practices for integrating your supply chain with Dynamics at Summit 2015 as well as in a follow up webinar. If you weren't able to attend the live sessions nor the webinar, we hope you'll enjoy the infographic and watch the webinar recording

 

       
 
   


WEBINAR RECORDING:

Click here to watch the webinar recording. Recording is 45 min of presentation, 25 min of Q&A.

You can download the SlideShare deck here.

To learn how Data Masons approaches these best practices with our EDI solution Vantage Point, download our Executive Brief, EDI Made Simple®: Vantage Point by Data Masons.

Enjoy the "EDI Made Simple -  Vantage Point EDI" Brief

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Manufacturing, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

Direct of Van Based EDI

Which is best for your company?

As a professional who has helped over 1,000 companies during my career implement EDI with Dynamics as their back office, I often get asked “What method of EDI communication is best for MY company?” Since there are only two main methods of communications; an EDI Value added network (VAN) provider or Direct EDI, my response is typically the same. 20 years ago VAN’s were the only choice; however, most major trading partners support direct communications. Fortunately, the decision for most companies can be straightforward and should be based entirely on business requirements, such as volume of documents, IT support, and services being provided by your EDI provider.

Differentiating Direct vs VAN

Direct EDI, such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or standards such as AS2, establishes a secure line between two business partners. With minimal software and an internet connection, companies can now connect to their trading partner base with no per document fees. Certain industries or partners may require or highly suggest this form of communication such as Wal-Mart, Lowes, Cardinal Health, etc. because it is closer to real time communications, and avoids costly per document fees for both parties.  

An EDI VAN is a secure outsourced network where EDI documents can be exchanged between business partners. Your company is provided with a ‘mailbox’ from which EDI documents are sent and received, similar to traditional paper based mail (snail mail). The “value added” part of the mailbox are often services like mail notifications, inspect, authentication, and validating the message.  Messages are tracked and recorded for auditing purposes, as well as other services available through VANs, such as backup and recovery, mapping, compliance, and more.

Deciding Which Method is Best for Your Company

A Direct EDI connection may be best if:

  • You are trading a higher volume of EDI documents, frequently (typically more than 500 per month)
  • Your trading partners have varying requirements, particularly with communications protocols (AS2, FTPS, SFTPS, etc.).
  • You have an internal IT resources to setup and maintain the direct connections OR your EDI provider offers assistance in this setup and support. 

A VAN may be better if:

  • Your business partners do not support a direct EDI communications and/or you anticipate having a lower count of trading partners.
  • You are trading a low volume of EDI documents (typically less than 500 documents per month).
  • You want to outsource communications.
  • You have limited IT resources.

When selecting the option which would make the most sense for you, there are a few questions you need to ask:

1)      Does my trading partner support direct EDI?

2)      What type of EDI traffic do I anticipate?

3)      What IT resources will be required?

4)      What support/assistance will my EDI provider give me related to communications?

One of the biggest factors in communication choice, in addition to what options your partners support, is your anticipated volume. You want to keep in mind that certain transactions will equal other transactions. So if you receive in 100 POs per month, and now need to send out PO Acknowledgments, shipment notifications, Invoices—those 100 POs often result in 400+ documents per month, when you factor in at least a one to one relationship (and don’t forget about resends, or partial shipments!). There may also be supporting transactions such as PO changes, Inventory Levels, payment remittance advises that need to be counted as well. 

Monthly Cost of VANs

 

                   ****Cost Per Document *****

**Doc Count**

0.25

0.50

0.75

1.00

100

 $        25.00

 $        50.00

 $        75.00

 $        100.00

500

 $     125.00

 $     250.00

 $     375.00

 $        500.00

1,000

 $     250.00

 $     500.00

 $     750.00

 $    1,000.00

5,000

 $  1,250.00

 $  2,500.00

 $  3,750.00

 $    5,000.00

10,000

 $  2,500.00

 $  5,000.00

 $  7,500.00

 $  10,000.00

NOTE--Does not include mailbox fee or other services.

You also want to factor in how your volume will change over time. For instance, do you expect to add new customers? Will you increase your volume of orders? Will you change your shipping patterns? For example, shipping to a distribution center tends to be low PO count but high product count, whereas ship to stores are middle volume, and ship to consumer is often many small orders.

The decision to go with a VAN provider vs (or in addition to) Direct EDI is an important discussion based on budget, resources, and trading partner requirements. When selecting an EDI provider, it’s important to make sure they can support multiple methods and choice in communication, beyond other areas that are critical (good technical support, deep knowledge of the ERP, integration of the documents you need to process, etc.).  

To learn more about which EDI solution is right for you, and how we can support your EDI efforts with EDI Made Simple®, visit us at www.datamasons.com.

 

Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, EDI Articles

Adding an electronic data interchange (EDI) solution to Microsoft Dynamics GP is more than an attractive option–for some companies, it is a firm mandate from their customers or a prerequisite to enter attractive markets. But there are subtleties to selecting the appropriate EDI solution for a growing business.

Controlling the Cost of EDI for Dynamics GP

Read the blog from our Partner, Panatrack, as we delve deeper into this topic and then learn more in our new, informational brief, "Selecting EDI for Microsoft Dynamics GP".

EDI Expert Insights, Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

EDI and ERP Integration Without Customization

EDI and ERP Integration: Three Keys to Automated Integration

Technology and business process automation are increasingly becoming strategic components of success for today’s digital economy. Whether you’re a manufacturer, distributor, retailer, 3PL or in the CPG, automotive or food industries, your competitiveness is often tied to two critical business applications responsible for managing your business, ERP and EDI. Successful implementations of these two key technologies can drive costs out of your supply chain execution and improve key metrics such as revenue per employee and cost per business transaction.

ERP systems handle finances, inventory, manufacturing and the business execution aspects of your operations. Your EDI system handles electronic interactions (transactions) with your supply chain (trading partners) including customers, suppliers, logistics organizations, banks and more.

With regard to handling the supply chain, ERP creates, receives, and manages these business transactions, while EDI transforms and communicates these transactions and instructions to and from your supply chain partners. ERP and EDI must be connected to achieve the maximum efficiencies of each. With a tightly integrated supply chain, integrated EDI will reduce labor costs and expensive errors as well.

Clearly these two systems should be connected, but the truth is that most companies are connected poorly or not connected at all. The principal challenge in integration is that while the information these systems handle (products, prices, delivery, etc.) is the same, the ERP context and format of the data used varies greatly amongst ERP systems (partners) and is very different from the data in your ERP system. This means the data must be cross-referenced, validated and formatted precisely to create accurate business transactions in your ERP system and in the ERP systems of your partners. 

The transaction integration gap is often solved by modifying the ERP to manage the transactions received and sent by EDI.  Common ERP based approaches include staging tables, and complex data “scrubbing” and formatting which can result in expensive ERP modifications that are invasive and inhibit updates to the ERP. These customizations are rarely well automated and require frequent manual intervention.

Integration Without Customization

There are three main criteria for achieving automated integration between your EDI and ERP systems without ERP customizations. 

  1. A strong understanding of the ERP system and the best practice approach to integration.
  2. Utilization of a processing platform that is flexible and combines knowledge of the data in the ERP platform so data is sent accurately to the ERP and follows the end user’s business requirements.
  3. Reduced user involvement with strong error trapping with alerts and automated error resolution wherever possible.

The Old Way

Historically, connecting EDI to ERP systems required the export of the information from a translator that would reformat data received from partners into a common format that could be imported into the ERP system.  The next step would be for the ERP system to do all of the “heavy lifting” – i.e. all of the error handling, data scrubbing and “cross-referencing” before attempting to create a proper transaction.  Outbound transactions require even more effort from the ERP system by expecting the ERP system to understand all of the partner and transactional relationships, and even provide information that is extraneous to the ERP (“turnaround data” usually received on the inbound transaction) back to the translator.  This unpredictable “turnaround” data usually has no native storage area in the ERP system and requires customization for storage so that it can be passed back to the translator at the correct moment.  Since the demands and needs of current and future partners are nearly impossible to anticipate, ongoing customizations are the norm for most ERP platforms. 

Organizations that undertake ERP customization projects for EDI integrations frequently report the same problems which include: 

  • Over budget ERP implementations.
  • Difficult and expensive ERP upgrades.
  • High ongoing cost of maintenance.
  • Transactions “falling through the cracks” due to the decoupled nature of Translators and ERP transactions.  This is caused by multiple points of failure in the solution and lack of transaction lifecycle audits.
  • Unplanned disruption of ERP production environments to meet external mandates from partners.

 The Solution

Full integration requires a strong and well architected connection between the EDI and the ERP data so that the business rules and validations can be performed at the time the transaction is processed. A system that understands the unique EDI and ERP processing requirements can stand between the two processes; the ERP data and the EDI trading partners. That system must be specifically attuned to the way the ERP ‘thinks’ so that it can pass information between the systems without undue burden on the ERP.  Additionally the EDI processing platform has to understand the relationships between partners and the ERP transactions to avoid customizations.  “Turnaround” data has to be stored in a manner that is flexible and accessible to the outbound transactions.

Taking full advantage of the opportunities of advanced supply chain automation requires experts who understand both the ERP and EDI. Many EDI shops don’t have experts in the ERP system that must reliably connect the EDI data nor the correct platform to make it work without ERP customizations. To be an expert in EDI to ERP integration, there must be a deep understanding of the implementation, maintenance and lifecycle development of the ERP so that transactions are handled correctly every time.

Many EDI service providers offer EDI compliance, but very few make the commitment to coupling those capabilities with expert ERP integration that avoids ERP customizations.  Only those organizations can support such end-to-end integration in the long-term.

To download this article in an easy to read pdf, download article here.

To learn how you can have a highly productive and profitable EDI initiative in your company, download our EDI Made Simple® Executive Brief

Download Now

Apparel and Footwear, EDI Articles

missing-the-trainWe like to share revelant, best practices on EDI with our followers. Please enjoy this article from ec-bp.

Are you a retailer? It's not too late for EDI. 

EDI is the standard format for order processing and tracking in the retail industry. While every major retailer has adopted its use there are plenty of smaller and midsized retailers who haven’t yet got onboard. Fortunately for these companies it isn’t too late to start. 

All the groundwork has been laid by retailers and EDI service providers, and the path has been trampled over the years so that newcomers will find a smooth road to implementation. Here are three areas that can be leveraged by retailers making the move to electronic order processing.

Read the full article on the ec-bp EDI Best Practices Blog.

 

Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

ec-bp_image1We like to share revelant, best practices on EDI with our followers. Please enjoy this article from ec-bp.

Accuracy and Consistency. In any business, it’s rare to find anything that’s “always true.” But to say you can vastly improve accuracy and consistency by using EDI (electronic data interchange) instead of paper for your order processing comes very close to being, well, a fact. And an obvious, almost direct benefit to improvements in these areas can be seen in the bottom line. 


Read the full article on the ec-bp EDI Best Practices Blog