As Microsoft continues to successfully deliver top-notch industry focused solutions, it’s becoming increasingly more important that Dynamics ISVs also bring industry specialization to the table. No longer can clients and perspective Dynamics users be fooled by partners that can pull a few catchy words from the industry terminology, but now they require customer evidence of vertical capabilities, and a little lingo won’t go far. Finding the ISV that can successfully address your vertical requirements means that the ISV solution will work in synergy with Dynamics to support your business.
For medium- to high-volume growers selling ornamental plants, flowers and seeds to home improvement centers, wholesalers and retailers, finding a Dynamics EDI solution with vertical expertise can significantly increase the efficiency of your business operations and your competitive advantage.
Here are the top 10 things that growers should consider when selecting such an EDI solution:
1. iTrade – Can your Dynamics EDI vendor directly connect to iTrade without additional transaction fees?
2. Chep Pallet ASN’s – If your company is using CHEP pallets, the world’s leading pallet and container pooling company, then is the solution provider flexible enough to support ASN’s? Would you like the ability to potentially send additional information related to the shipment, such as order information, product description, physical characteristics, type of packaging, marking, carrier information, and configuration of goods within the transportation equipment?
3. Substitutions – Time to time you may not have the necessary goods in stock to fulfill customer orders, but you agree to substitute the goods, for example, another brand or maybe two 8oz bags instead of the requested 16oz bag of frozen goods. How does the solution handle the logic within your solution and is that controlled by the product and/or the customer?
4. COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) Reporting – Based on traceability requirements for fresh produce, can the solution help with your COOL needs?
5. Direct Store Delivery (DSD) vs. Distribution Center Challenges vs Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) – Whether you’re using DSD or Distribution Center as the method to get your goods to your clients, you need to make sure the allocated shelf space you have is properly stocked at all times. An EDI solution that can help you manage these critical paths will deliver valuable process improvements.
6. Non-EDI Formats – From time to time you may need to support non-EDI formats outside of the normal standards: EDIFACT, ANSI X. 12, VICS, UCS and cXML. So the question to ask your solution provider is whether or not they support XML or ASCII files. Even if you don’t need to support them today given your current trading partners, you may very well have the need down the road.
7. Ongoing Transaction Costs – What connection options does the solution provider offer? If your trading partner allows you to send via a direct connection will you continue to pay them for transaction costs?
8. Performance – What performance data can the provider share with you? For example, if your transactions are seasonal and spike during the specific months, how will that effect the way you get information in and out of your Dynamics ERP?
9. Impact on the Dynamics Platform – How does the solution integrate with your Dynamics platform? If the solution requires customization to the ERP, how much effort and risk will be involved when you either have a new patch/hot fix or decide to upgrade to the next version?
10. Buying Groups, their Information and EDI Needs – If you’re a member of a buying group, you’ll need to connect to your suppliers and their group in the most cost-effective manner when required. So have your EDI provider explain how they address this issue and ask them to provide examples.
With all of the other potential risks that your business can face, you can easily avoid a costly, risk-filled EDI proposition by keeping this “Top 10” in mind. It doesn’t matter where you are with EDI, whether evaluating solutions or entrenched with a solution, it’s always worthwhile to make sure the route you are taking leverages your Microsoft Dynamics investment to stay ahead of your competition.