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.

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. Subscribe to be notified when the next post goes live!

Read part 3

Subscribe to the Data Masons Blog

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 – please join us and subscribe so you don't miss out!

Read part 2
Read part 3

Subscribe to the Data Masons Blog

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.

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Dynamics AX, Dynamics 365, EDI for Dynamics 365

If your company is considering an upgrade from Dynamics AX to Dynamics 365 and currently has external business integrations, understanding the new integration framework will be critical to your planning and success. While looking forward to the benefits that the feature-rich Dynamics 365 platform promises to deliver, the integration technologies that have been added and deprecated warrant an overall evaluation of your integration strategy.

In this white paper, we’ll discuss what these changes mean to your organization and what opportunities they open the door to for EDI integration with Dynamics 365. Specifically, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of the most widely-used approaches to EDI, such as Value Added Networks (VAN), the use of in-house development resources and contracting outsourced specialists.

As an alternative to these EDI approaches, we’ll discuss an integration option that does not modify the ERP, complementing the performance and functionality offered by the Dynamics 365 for Operations Platform.

Download the "Dynamics 365 -   A Radical Change for AX" Brief

For more information on EDI for Dynamics 365, Watch the Recorded Webinar, "A Radical Transformation for Microsoft Dynamics AX."

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Dynamics 365

change-948018_180.jpgDon't let the unveiling of Microsoft's messaging and go-to market strategies around Dynamics 365 Enterprise distract from the fact that this is really a very exciting time for the Microsoft Dynamics community.  From 1999 when it was known as Damgaard Axapta, we've watched the ERP evolve, with Microsoft continually building on its functional enhancements, UI and technology to the point that it became one of the fastest growing on-premise ERP solutions.

Today it stands among the most functional cloud-ready ERP solutions available. AX 7 (the ERP component of Dynamics 365 Enterprise) is undoubtedly the most ambitious transformation made to AX by Microsoft and arguably one of the most remarkable in the history of ERP development.

We're extremely excited to see the new integration framework in AX as it brings with it increased integration potential. To fully grasp the opportunities this transformation in integration offers, it's useful to understand AX Data Entities, the multiple types of entities and each of their purposes before undertaking an integration project...

For More Information, Read the Article, "Integration for Microsoft Dynamics AX 7: Improvement or Disappointment?"

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Exact Software Integration, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration

WMS.jpgAs ERP releases rollout more frequently, and more organizations edge closer to an upgrade project, they are evaluating the integration of disparate best of breed WMS solutions to their ERP platforms. While the integration of these critical technologies was once mainly driven by economic and project requirements, today the most common reason is simple – the WMS system is working well, but the company’s ERP platform needs to be replaced or upgraded.

In those cases, integration poses a major challenge and a project risk, especially when no native integration exists and it must be architected. While the optimal WMS to ERP integration is seamless real-time communication, in many cases it’s not a viable option due to technology limitations or simply because it’s not worth the expense of building a real-time interface.

Data Masons has a large degree of success integrating WMS platforms to ERP systems, such as to Microsoft Dynamics or Exact Macola, by utilizing the same approach we use for public warehouse (third-party logistics or 3PL’s). This integration model is mature and relatively standardized in the 3PL industry. These process flows, including the EDI X.12 document description, are as follows:

  • Warehouse Shipping Order - Used to enable the depositor (ERP system) to advise a warehouse (WMS System) to make a shipment, confirm a shipment, or modify or cancel a previously transmitted shipping order, make a shipment, confirm a shipment, or modify or cancel a previously transmitted shipping order.
  • Warehouse Stock Transfer Shipment Advice - Used by the warehouse to advise the depositor that shipment was made. Also used to reconcile order quantities with shipment quantities.
  • Warehouse Stock Transfer Shipment Advice - Used by a depositor or an agent of the depositor to advise the recipient that a transfer shipment has been made. Also provides a receiving location with detailed information concerning product being shipped to that location.
  • Warehouse Stock Transfer Receipt Advice - Used by a receiving location to advise a depositor or an agent of the depositor that a transfer shipment has been received. Also provides the depositor or the depositor's agent with detailed information concerning product that has been received.
  • Warehouse Inventory Adjustment Advice - Used to inform a warehouse/depositor of a quantity or status change to inventory records. Also provides detailed information concerning the internal adjustments which occur between a warehouse and a depositor.
  • Inventory Product Synchronization (Item Maintenance) – Pushed by the ERP to the WMS that includes item dimensions and weights, which is essential for WMS and Transportation Management System (TMS) functionality).
  • Inventory Inquiry – This document is commonly used to communicate inventory status and quantity information from a seller to a customer. This information can be used to compare and reconcile inventory levels between the ERP and WMS systems.

Integrating WMS systems is a little different than 3PL’s as far as process flow and information needs go, but it’s possible to reduce the challenges utilizing existing integration patterns and specifications that are tried and proven in the world of EDI. The format of the data itself is secondary to the concept – flat files, XML files and virtually any data format can deliver the same result – X.12 EDI flows simply provide an established template that has considered virtually all data requirements.

Understanding this concept will allow organizations to integrate disparate WMS and ERP systems utilizing existing EDI design models, which is a proven way to reduce design time, project risk and cost when integrating EDI to WMS solutions without native integration.

Read how our customers are successfully integrating EDI
with their ERP and WMS systems
.