Glenn McPeak

Glenn McPeak

Glenn is a supply chain expert and has over 25 Years of EDI/ERP solution consulting and ERP/EDI software product design and management. Glenn’s has managed and executed over 200 successful ERP and EDI related projects in a wide array of manufacturing and distribution oriented industries. Glenn is knowledgeable in the following ERP platforms – Microsoft Dynamics AX, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and Microsoft Dynamics GP.

Glenn holds a Bachelor of Science degree with highest honors from Babson College and numerous Microsoft Certifications, including Microsoft Certified Professional.

Advanced Ship Notice (ASN), Vendor EDI, Supply Chain EDI, EDI, ERP

In many businesses, EDI processing is like the circulatory system in the human body, and the ERP system is the heart of the business. In other words, EDI is important! Many industries have leveraged EDI’s impact on efficiency to scale operations in a manner and cost structure that would be impossible without it.  The ability to automate repetitive office tasks to integrated EDI is transformational.   

Many enterprises rank their suppliers using a scorecard model that rewards better performing suppliers and punishes those that are difficult to do business with. Unsurprisingly, EDI is a significant factor on supplier scorecards, since mistakes and delays can hamper the ability to execute business.shutterstock_204413116_scorecards

A good example of how a supplier can undermine a customer is Advanced Ship Notices (ASN). ASN’s tell the recipient what they will be receiving, and often in significant detail, so that the receiving of the goods can be handled through a simple scanning process. Distribution centers often operate at high rates of speed, and ASN-related mistakes can cause costly operating inefficiencies and overtime. Imagine a truck arrives with one supplier’s goods. When a proper and timely ASN is received, the work of the warehouse team is quite simple – scan and put away or crossdock the goods to the final destination(s)

Now imagine a second supplier’s truck arrives, but the ASN has not been received by the warehouse. The scans will not work as there is no information to receive the goods and they have to be moved to another location or rejected and sent back to the supplier. This is an ugly situation that costs money, renders valuable shelf space empty, and results in lost sales. 

Additionally, the supplier with the late ASN will be penalized on their scorecard, which in turn opens the door to competitors and reduces the supplier’s sales. 

If you're looking for an EDI vendor, review our checklist to help you select the right solution for your business needs.

There are a lot of other factors by which vendor performance can be quantified over time, and they are driven by rules outlined in vendor agreements. These rules are for the benefit of both parties so that the business activities mesh more smoothly. Rules communicate expectations, e.g: Orders are to be acknowledged within 4 hours, a ship notice should arrive before the shipment, shipment notices must be sent when the truck leaves the facility, and invoices should arrive within 24 hours of the shipment.   

Such specific rules enable a good application to identify when these rules are not being met and generate escalations to the responsible parties at the supplier so that corrective action can be taken before the scorecard is impacted.   

For companies that want to implement a scorecard system of their own, the first step is to set the rules and benchmarks for excellence in the supplier base. The rules can govern everything from timeliness and accuracy, to product quality. 

For example, an organization that requires vendors to perform drop ship activities could look at the time to ship by analyzing the days between sending a PO and receiving the ASN and Proof of Delivery. Analyzing such information helps to determine which vendors are conforming to estimated ship times provided to customers – an important KPI that reflects the consumer’s experience. 

After investing the time and effort into implementing a fully integrated EDI system, gaining this extra insight into the performance of your vendors will be beneficial. A vendor scorecard program makes it possible to proactively manage trends early on and help identify which suppliers are delivering the best value versus least cost.   

Looking for an EDI vendor? We can help. Download our checklist to make this task simpler, and find the right vendor for your needs.

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EDI, ERP

Rube Goldberg machines are pretty coolIf you’re not careful, you could spend hours watching videos of machines which perform simple tasks in no less than twenty steps. Like this gif, where a series of household objects take nearly a minute to turn on a record player. Of course, when it comes to important tasks such as business processes, it’s important to remember Rube Goldberg machines are the fancies of a cartoonist who created them as jokes. 

We’ve worked with companies who inadvertently created a “Rube Goldberg” solution to EDI integration. Most often the solutions are multi-step, multiple application solutions that create multiple points of failure, as is the case with most Rube Goldberg devices. A little research can help avoid those situations, and utilizing a proven solution rather than trying to build one can accelerate business improvement and digital transformation.  

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Look for these attributes to find an EDI solution that does not follow a Rube Goldberg approach… 

  1. It’s a single platform – not a cobbled together group of technologies from various vendors. 
  2. It doesn’t have to be created – its ready to work out of the box. 
  3. It doesn’t require customizations in other applications to work properly. 
  4. It stops bad data from being created that can create downstream problems for stakeholders and customers. 
  5. Top notch service is available when needed to manage issues. 
  6. It can do more than just EDI – it can handle many types of integration that enables a single platform approach for organizations. 

Make sure you get these attributes-- and avoid common pitfalls-- by reading Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting an EDI Solution

Some Rube Goldberg machines work, albeit slowly and with a lot of effort. When it comes to mission critical business processes such as EDI and B2B Commerce, simple and reliable is the best way to move organizations forward. 

Data Masons has been delivering EDI Made Simple for 15 years by providing a unique, solution-oriented platform coupled with expert services. Data Masons improves company’s ability to execute business processes more quickly, accurate and at a lower cost – a key objective of Digital Transformation.   

Please enjoy some of the machines other people have made, and if you’re getting dizzy from watching them, make sure you avoid the pitfalls of Rube Goldberg EDI by reading our white paper, Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting an EDI Solution. 

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

EDI for Dynamics 365, Dynamics 365 For Operations, Dynamics 365 Business Central

Many companies that currently process EDI transactions using a legacy translator-- and are considering migrating  to a cloud-based ERP solution such as Dynamics 365 for Operations and Business Central-- face a decision. Should they keep their existing EDI solution, or move to a different EDI platform and vendor?

There are many good reasons to want to keep an existing EDI system, including cost and risk reduction associated with EDI system replacement. However, many organizations find that the cost and risk of keeping a legacy translator far exceeds the cost of a replacement.

Other companies move their ERP to the cloud for cost and a variety of business reasons 

This article is intended to provide the most common shortcomings of translators such as Sterling Gentran, Sterling Integrator, Trusted Link Enterprise, Biztalk and many others as they relate to integration with Dynamics 365 in the cloud. 

  1. Cannot support web services or API’s Depositphotos_4384439_l-2015
    Many translators have limited or no support for web services connections, which is best practice for integrating data to and from Dynamics 365. 
  2. Cannot resolve cross references and produce “transaction ready” data packages. 
    Dynamics 365 expects valid transactions with valid information, such as proper customer numbers, item numbers, units of measures, address locations and numerous data elements. Without invasive customizations in Dynamics, transactions will fail until “perfect”. 
  3. Cannot consume error messages 
    When integration errors occur, the API’s in Dynamics will generate error messages that are critical to the business user. Unless there is a means to consume and report these messages back to the user, troubleshooting is difficult if not impossible. 
  4. Translators are passive. 
    D365 customizations are required to export data files back to the translator – a concept that is often provisioned into legacy ERP solutions via customizations. Needless customizations are frowned upon in the Dynamics 365 ecosystem. 
  5. No Turnaround Data.  
    Data is often sent in EDI messages that must accompany the data that is transmitted back to the EDI trading partner. Unless customizations are created in D365 to store and export that EDI data back to the translator, valid documents are impossible to transmit to the partner. 
  6. No Business Rules. 
    Translators are not well suited for handling complex business rules such as mandating 17 Digit Bill of Lading Values on invoices linked to shipments via Motor Carrier. That logic in most systems is handled by the ERP system – again, requiring more customization. 
  7. No Business or Digital Transformation. 
    Companies that make the difficult decision to replace their ERP solution with a cloud-based Dynamics 365 ERP solution often does so to reduce operating costs, complexity and reliance on manual processes such as data entry to keep the ERP system moving forward. Most companies that try to implement EDI with their legacy translators are fortunate to achieve a comparable outcome, not improve business execution by connecting more of the ERP processes to the outside world such as banks, transportation companies, suppliers and many other parts of their “Value Chain."    
  8. EDI Still Resides in IT. 
    Most legacy translators are complex to manage and operate, and often fall under the responsibility of IT. Naturally, keeping the legacy translator does not improve business user access to critical data that would reduce the need for IT to be involved in day-to-day business/data discrepancies. 
  9. No Help with Non-EDI integrations.   
    Most translators are not well suited to non-EDI integrations and require a second integration platform to be employed. 

Today, the definition of EDI integration best practices has evolved and new solutions are simplifying and opening new opportunities for collaboration with partners in an accurate and cost effective manner. Carefully evaluating EDI options when embarking on the journey to Dynamics 365 can save money by accelerating the process and position companies to increase ROI on their investment in Dynamics.   

Read our executive brief, "Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting an EDI Solution," to learn even more about what to look out for when preparing for an EDI implementation.

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

Third-party Logistics, EDI

Welcome to the third blog in our series about third-party logistics management via electronic messaging/EDI! The first blog explained that outsourcing distribution to 3PLs is popular with companies that are expanding into new markets or want to focus on their core strengths and let the logistics experts manage the physical storage and distribution of their goods.

We also discussed that in 3PL automation projects, interactions can be generalized into two master file exchanges and five transaction scenarios. Part 2 delved into the master file exchanges, and this blog, the third and final blog of the series, focuses on the five transaction scenarios.

Transactions

At a high level, warehouses are simple operations. Goods arrive, goods are moved around inside the warehouse, and goods are shipped. In the “real world,” things get a little more complicated, as goods can be damaged, stolen, expired, and have other issues that require inventory adjustments. Man_in_warehouse-1

Another factor (for a future blog), is the value-added services 3PLs provide to repack items into different forms and partner numbers. This “conversion” of inventory is similar to production environments where components are removed from inventory and new inventory is created with no physical receipt or shipment process. However, today we’re focused on the basic 3PL process for the simple distribution of finished goods.

To understand the basic premise of the X12 document’s intent as it relates to warehousing, imagine we’re commencing a new relationship. We’ve sent the item catalog information to the warehouse, so they know the item numbers and characteristics of the items they’ll be housing. The first step in the process is to ship goods to the warehouse. In a best practice scenario, we’ll send the warehouse a notice of in-transit goods so they can plan the receiving and storage activities. In the X12 standard, the document that fits this scenario is the 943 Warehouse Stock Transfer Shipment Advice. The data in this document can have many sources, such as a planned inter-warehouse shipment, purchase order, or ship notice from a related party. Regardless, it lets the warehouse know that goods are coming with a high level of detail.

When the goods arrive, the warehouse should inspect and possibly count the goods to make sure that what was scheduled to arrive did. If the goods are coming from a vendor, it’s essential to validate invoices and payments. The document that fits this purpose in the X12 standard is the 944 Warehouse Stock Transfer Receipt Advice.

The next logical transaction in the 3PL relationship is the X12 standard’s 940 Warehouse Shipping Order, which gives the 3PL the details to integrate into their internal systems for accurate fulfillment of the shipment. 

We want to know the goods were shipped and have details on freight carrier information, freight costs, lot numbers, serial numbers, and other crucial details for accounting and inventory control purposes.

The last common transaction in the 3PL process interaction is the Inventory Adjustment Process.  Because there’s always the possibility of inventory loss through errors and obsolescence, we’ll need a means for the warehouse to communicate what’s being disposed of and why. This scenario is covered nicely in the X12 standard by the 947 Warehouse Inventory Adjustment Advice.

Achieving a finely tuned 3PL process flow can deliver significant benefits to a business that distributes goods through outsourced warehousing. The discussion today is supported by the X12 EDI standard, but that’s not a prerequisite of a successful endeavor. Other formats, such as CSVs, XML, EDIFACT, JSON, and others can also do the job – but they require careful evaluation and implementation, as they are not supported by a highly evolved standard such as the X12 standard. 

We hope you find this information useful in understanding a simplified approach to 3PL project implementation. Again, you can find part 1 here and part 2 here. If you have questions, please contact us at techblog@datamasons.com or www.datamasons.com. And be sure to subscribe to our blog so you don't miss our next post!

Many of our customers have overcome challenges and found success with our EDI solution, which can take the headache out of 3PL and other business processes. Read our white paper to learn more.

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EDI, Amazon

Amazon Seller Central (Fulfillment by Amazon) can present challenges to companies with an existing EDI capable infrastructure by mandating the use of Web Services and XML data formats. Data Masons offers a simple and effective solution for those organizations that want a fast and cost effective way to integrate Amazon Seller Central into their existing EDI system. shutterstock_1152348296_packagesonporch

Data Masons now provides an EDI solution for Seller Central that manages the communications and translation of all messages to and from any EDI standard message such as X12 and EDIFACT. Setup can usually be accomplished in a day and has a low setup cost and modest ongoing fees. 

Amazon Seller Central offers companies a way to quickly enter new markets and outsource product distribution. Data Masons can quickly connect Seller Central into your ERP platform without any special changes to existing systems and infrastructure! Contact us to learn more, whether you’re an existing Data Masons customer, or considering us for your EDI needs.

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Welcome back to our series about third-party logistics management via electronic messaging/EDI! Last week we explained that outsourcing distribution to 3PLs is popular with companies that are expanding into new markets or want to focus on their core strengths and let the logistics experts manage the physical storage and distribution of their goods.

We also discussed that in 3PL automation projects, interactions can be generalized into two master file exchanges and five transaction scenarios. This week, we delve deeper into the master file exchanges.

Master Files

Master file exchanges enable synchronization of critical data between the 3PL’s warehouse management system (WMS) and their customer’s ERP system

Product Catalog (Sent to the 3PL by the 3PL customer)

The third-party logistics service provider and its WMS system need information about the products they’ll be warehousing and distributing, including part numbers, descriptions, special handling information, barcodes, and other elements that allow the 3PL to plan capacity for, store, and ship products safely. Because most businesses have an ongoing process of adding new products and updating or discontinuing others, the 3PL and their customer must consistently exchange information to stay updated.shutterstock_788905441_warehouseman

The X12 standard for this document is the 832 Price/Sales Catalog or the 888 Item Maintenance. (Author’s note: The 832 is used predominantly in 3PL scenarios, but there’s a strong argument that the 888 is the better fit.)

Inventory Status (Sent by the 3PL to the 3PL customer)

Soon after the initial product receipts and shipments occur between the customer and 3PL, the inevitable question is, “Is our inventory accurate and in sync?” Periodic transmission of an inventory status document is a best practice for most 3PLs – although that sometimes makes it difficult to reconcile discrepancies, whether they be timing related or more serious shrinkage or theft issues. The document for this interaction is the 846 Inventory Inquiry/Advice.

Please come back next time for the final blog in our series about third-party logistics management via electronic message/EDI – we’ll be discussing the five 3PL transaction scenarios.

Read part 3

To read more about integrating EDI messaging for logistics, download our data sheet.

Download the Data Sheet

And if you have questions, please contact us at techblog@datamasons.com.

Third-party Logistics, EDI

Welcome to our three-part series of blogs about third-party logistics management via electronic messaging/EDI. We receive many questions about 3PL from our readers, and we’re excited to share our knowledge of integrating EDI with this business practice.

Outsourcing distribution to 3PLs, also known as public warehouses or logistics service providers, is increasingly popular for companies that are expanding into new markets or simply want to focus on their core strengths by allowing logistics experts to manage the physical storage and distribution of their goods.

To make outsourced logistics seamless and cost-effective, advanced organizations implement electronic communications. Data Masons has worked on over one hundred of these projects with stakeholders who have various levels of capabilities and approach standards. We’ve learned that these projects have consistent patterns that are useful to understand when approaching this type of project.shutterstock_396462703_warehouse

In our experience with 3PL automation projects, interactions can be generalized into two master file exchanges and five transaction sets (also known as documents). The authors of the X12 EDI Standard clearly understood how to manage interactions with a 3PL – the documents most commonly used by 3PLs are very well-conceived and documented in the X12 EDI standard frequently used by 3PLs.

The second part of our series will continue next week, discussing master file exchanges.

Read part 2
Read part 3

Data Masons has helped many companies integrate EDI messaging with 3PL. To learn more about how to streamline your warehousing, download our data sheet.

Download the Data Sheet

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

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 365, EDI for Dynamics 365, Dynamics 365 For Operations, Certified for Microsoft Dynamics, CfMD, Certified EDI for AppSource

EDI and eCommerce Platform Has Met Microsoft’s Highest Standard for Partner-Developed Software Solutions AppSource:

Data Masons Software, LLC., the leading provider of integrated EDI and XML solutions for Microsoft Dynamics customers announced today that Vantage Point EDI, the first EDI and eCommerce platform listed on AppSource, is now also Certified for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations. Certified for Dynamics 365 indicates the solution has met Microsoft Corp.’s highest standard for partner-developed software. By successfully meeting all certification requirements, Vantage Point EDI now carries the distinct Certified for Microsoft Dynamics logo.

The Vantage Point EDI and eCommerce platform delivers an all-in-one solution to EDI for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations without customizations. The platform is available for immediate deployment in one of three possible environments, 1) in the Data Masons’ public cloud, 2) private cloud and 3) on-premise. The flexibility to deploy their EDI in a manner that best suits an organization’s business needs is a great benefit. Coupled with Data Masons’ huge library of existing connections and compliance maps, Data Masons can help Microsoft Dynamics customers quickly turn EDI into a competitive advantage through reduced overhead costs and rapid partner onboarding. 

“The certification of Vantage Point EDI highlights our continued commitment to the Microsoft Dynamics platform which we believe to be the premier cloud ERP solution available. Vantage Point EDI enables Dynamics 365 for Operations’ customers to meet the significant challenges of integrating their entire supply chain activities into Dynamics 365 without invasive ERP customizations,” states Glenn McPeak, Principal. 

Solutions that are Certified for Microsoft Dynamics are those that have demonstrated the highest level of development quality and compliance to best practices with Dynamics 365 for Operations. Additionally, customer evidence of successful implementations of the solution is also required and indicates the certified solution works well in real world environments. These solutions can be found on Microsoft’s AppSource, an online marketplace by Microsoft Corporation for enterprises to find and use SaaS solutions from trusted solution providers those that are Gold Certified with a validated solution.

About Microsoft Dynamics
Microsoft Dynamics is a line of financial, customer-relationship and supply-chain management solutions that helps businesses work more effectively. Delivered through a network of channel partners providing specialized services, these integrated, adaptable business management solutions work with familiar Microsoft software to streamline processes across an entire business.

About Data Masons
Data Masons specializes in EDI Made Simple® for Microsoft Dynamics and Macola customers by offering advanced, turnkey EDI & XML solutions. Certified for Microsoft Dynamics, Vantage Point EDI provides an end-to-end EDI processing platform with seamless integration and predictable ownership costs for cloud or on-premise environments - all without expensive and disruptive ERP platform customization. Data Masons' compliance services, product flexibility, extensive EDI and ERP integration knowledge, and partner-driven experience have made Vantage Point EDI the winning choice for high-performance business document integration at more than 1,500 customers.

Microsoft Dynamics Community, Dynamics ERP Integration, Dynamics 365, EDI for Dynamics 365, Microsoft Appsource, Dynamics 365 For Operations

Data Masons' Vantage Point EDI Solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations is the First Dedicated EDI and eCommerce Integration Solution to be listed on Microsoft AppSource

Data Masons Software, LLC., the leading provider of Integrated EDI and XML solutions for Microsoft Dynamics customers, announces the availability of its Vantage Point EDI for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations solution in Microsoft AppSource, an online marketplace by Microsoft Corporation for enterprises to find and use SaaS solutions from the company and its partners. Data Masons delivers the first dedicated EDI solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365 to be certified on Microsoft AppSource.

“For the past 17 years Data Masons has dedicated our development efforts on supporting the EDI and eCommerce integration needs of companies that utilize the Microsoft Dynamics AX, GP and NAV ERP platforms. Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations is a breakthrough cloud-based ERP platform and we are proud to deliver our next generation EDI processing platform for Dynamics 365. Our long-standing alignment with Microsoft’s go-to market strategy means we have the solution set and expertise to support Dynamics 365 around the clock and around the globe. AppSource is the marketplace for Dynamics 365 and being the first dedicated EDI solution available will certainly help drive new opportunities for our valued partners.  Additionally, we will enable companies running Dynamics AX using customizations to handle EDI inside AX to shed those customizations and accelerate their migration to Dynamics 365 for Operations” stated Glenn McPeak, Principal, Data Masons Software.

The Vantage Point EDI Platform delivers an all-in-one approach to EDI for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations without customizations. Available for deployment in the Data Masons’ public cloud, private cloud and on-premise, our customers have the flexibility to deploy their EDI in a manner that best suits their business needs. Combined with Data Masons’ huge library of existing connections and compliance maps, the company helps Microsoft Dynamics customers worldwide quickly turn EDI into a competitive advantage.

Data Masons offers education on EDI for Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Operations in an Executive Brief, "Dynamics 365 - A Radical Change for AX: Critical Information for Companies Upgrading AX to Dynamics 365 for Operations." In this brief, Data Masons shares the vastly improved integration options that have been introduced in Dynamics 365 and compares them to the legacy technologies that were deprecated from the Dynamics AX era.

About Data Masons

Since 1996, Data Masons has specialized in EDI Made Simple®, offering advanced, turnkey EDI & XML solutions for Microsoft Dynamics 365, AX, GP and NAV. Data Masons' Vantage Point EDI solution provides a complete EDI processing platform that enables users to become more competitive through tight EDI integration and ongoing compliance - all without the need for expensive and disruptive ERP platform customization. Data Masons' compliance services, product flexibility, extensive EDI and ERP integration knowledge and partner-driven experience have made Vantage Point EDI the winning choice for high-performance business document integration at more than 1,500 customers across North America. Additional information about Data Masons and its solutions is available at http://www.datamasons.com and follow the EDI conversation at #EDImadeSimple.