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.
- Cannot support web services or API’s
Many translators have limited or no support for web services connections, which is best practice for integrating data to and from Dynamics 365.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.