If you’re looking for an EDI for Microsoft Dynamics solution, one of the most critical conversations you can have is with existing EDI customers to understand what they did right, what they’d change if they started the project over again, and how their EDI integration project has ultimately (and hopefully continues to) benefit their company, their customers and trading partners.
This year at Microsoft Convergence 2015 we had the unique pleasure of having two well respected customers in their industries join me on stage. Tom Hicks and Cara Renfroe presented their experiences and thoughts on best practices necessary in the successful deployment of integrated EDI with Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Dynamics AX respectively.
EDI Integration with Dynamics NAV: Steiner Enterprises/Mitchell Fabrics
During his presentation, Tom Hicks, President of Steiner Enterprises, emphasized the importance of first selecting an organization that is 100% focused on EDI integration for Microsoft Dynamics. During the evaluation process he learned that in business models where multiple organizations participate in the support of EDI compliance, translation and integration of EDI data, basic questions required multiple parties to be respond. Tom said, that when speaking to Data Masons he received answers immediately and did not require involvement of multiple parties to get those answers”. He felt that a single source provider model provides the best outcome since that provider understands the end-to-end business process and can implement more efficiently and provide better long-term support.
Tom also shared his research into the true cost of ownership when evaluating different technology models. He noted that some providers had seemingly low upfront costs, but when looking at transaction fees, support costs, customizations and future costs for upgrading Dynamics NAV these could add significant increases in cost and time resources, therefore had to be carefully considered when calculating ROI.
Finally, Tom discussed the pros and cons of embedded solutions that introduce customizations into NAV that are at odds with Microsoft’s push to the cloud and continuous product releases (Cumulative Updates) that make customizations very difficult to support.
Omni-Channel EDI Integration with Dynamics AX: Blackhawk Networks
Cara Renfroe, Blackhawk’s ERP Functional Director shared the importance of flexibility and the ability to support changing business models on a Global Scale. Blackhawk Networks is delivering groundbreaking prepaid gift cards, cell phones, call cards and technology solutions through omni-channel distribution. The nature of Blackhawk’s market defining products and groundbreaking technology solutions require the definition of new business processes with their retail and online partners.
Cara noted that trying to create an embedded EDI solution would have been quite cumbersome and difficult to meet the emerging business practices being defined during and after implementation. “Much of the business process logic we needed was handled by Vantage Point which could be implemented quickly due to its design.” Trying to manage the varied needs of our global retailers, third party logistics and display contractor suppliers embedded within AX would have taken much more time with much more risk. Additionally those customizations would be a significant impediment and expense to future AX upgrades. Staying current and on supported releases of Dynamics AX without downtime is crucial to Blackhawk’s success.