It’s a rare company that isn’t interested in cutting costs, or at least saving a few dollars. For EDI itself, minimizing costs is a key function. From initial integration to expansion of processes, extension to more trading partners, and scaling, which we’ll discuss in part 3. What you should aim for is the simplest and best system that maintains the lowest possible cost of ownership as much as possible, and you probably know that doesn’t always mean going with the solution with the lowest price tag.
One of the complexities of EDI is that it can have hidden costs, so to simplify that for you, let’s break down where those costs hide, so you know what questions to ask when evaluating a solution and determining a true cost for your business.
- Forced Upgrades or Retrofitting. Embedded solution providers can require undesirable version updates or custom code retrofitting to older versions. The result? Expensive “one-off” coding and risks to your production ERP system. Always make sure you understand how an EDI solution interacts with your ERP system, and what happens if one or the other needs an update.
- Ongoing Data Mapping. As new and existing partners introduce more documents, more data elements must be added and “mapped” to the translator. More customization means more delays in setting up new partners, plus a higher cost for upgrading to new versions. That’s why it’s important to know, what happens when your business expands and you attract new trading partners? Is your EDI solution going to make your life harder, or easier?
- Compliance Responsibility. Toolset solutions place the EDI compliance and functionality burden squarely on the ERP user, driving up costs for you in ways the EDI provider won’t even be able to estimate.
- Unclear Support. Meshing EDI tools such as translators together with custom code frequently blurs the line of support responsibility. This can create confusion at crucial times. Always make sure you understand what kind of support you’re paying for, what its limits are, and what happens if you need to go beyond those limits.
- Ongoing Costs. Once an EDI/XML document exchange and integration is built, the work has just begun. New initiatives such as additional EDI document sets and trading partner additions can trigger unwanted surprises and significant expenses for the developer and the ERP user. No matter what your business needs are when you purchase and implement an EDI solution, make sure you know what happens if your business grows or needs additional functionality, and what the costs will be.
Next time, we’ll discuss two final, important elements to a truly simple EDI solution: Adaptability and Scalability. If you would like to know more about how to tackle one of the most complex business processes, download our white paper, EDI Made Simple.