Exact Software Integration, Dynamics ERP Integration, EDI, ERP

There are compelling reasons why worldwide EDI transaction volume continues to grow. EDI can lower costs, improve accuracy, increase efficiency, improve fulfillment times, etc. However, it is virtually impossible to recognize any of these benefits if EDI transactions are not integrated with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. If a company is receiving 1000’s of orders per day electronically, but must key them into their fulfilment system manually, it is unlikely there will be a material benefit to sending and receiving transactions via EDI.

While EDI integration to an ERP is critical, surprisingly, most leading ERP packages do not provide “out of the box” support for EDI. EDI support or integration is typically provided by third parties, or ISV solutions. These third-party solutions have features that make them unique but fundamentally they come in only one of two flavors: embedded or stand-alone. An embedded solution is one in which the ISV has modified the source code, screens, business logic, and database objects of the ERP application to support EDI. A non- embedded or stand-alone solution is one that does not require modifications to the source code or the database objects of the ERP application. The concept is simple, and the differences may seem obvious, however, the ramifications of choosing one approach vs. the other can be significant.


Stand-Alone is Less Strain on Your ERP

The Data Masons EDI solution is a stand-alone application. All transaction processing, cross reference checking, mapping, error handling, exception reporting, etc. is managed outside of the ERP. The Data Masons application communicates directly with the ERP application in real time via the ERP’s native integration layer protocols (oData, Data Endpoints, Integration Ports, etc.). This is the ERP companies’ recommended approach, because it removes the resource intensive processing of transactions from the ERP. It also allows the EDI solution to remain decoupled from ERP. This insulates the stand-alone EDI application from any disruptive changes to ERP introduced by customizations or upgrades and conversely protects the ERP application by not requiring code changes or customizations to support EDI integration.shutterstock_84146302_headachecomputer

There is a vast amount of processing and business logic involved in integrating EDI transactions into an ERP system. In addition to reporting, notifications, exception handling, and transaction processing, it is akin to essentially connecting the ERP system of one company to another. Item numbers, ship to locations, customer codes, discount codes, freight providers, etc. all need to be translated or mapped from one system to another. EDI standards facilitate this integration to an extent, but EDI has grown far beyond the traditional ANSI X12 or EDIFACT standards. EDI encompasses ecommerce: cXML, XML, Flat File, X12, EDIFACT, Punch Outs, API’s via https, Amazon Web Services, Blockchain, Web Shopping Carts, etc. Embedding all the functionality required to support ecommerce into to an existing ERP system radically alters the underlying system. It requires significant invasive code changes and customizations to the ERP code base, business logic, and database objects.

Don't get caught in an integration nightmare. Download our paper, 3 Keys to Integration Without Customization, to learn more about avoiding ERP customizations.

Could Embedded EDI Still be Worth It?

ERP customizations are not uncommon, however. Anyone who has implemented an ERP system has experienced the dilemma between altering the ERP to fit a business process vs altering the business process to fit the ERP. In the short term it is tempting to modify the ERP application, especially if it is something minor such as adding a new field or simply changing a label.

However, long term, even simple changes to ERP source code can have long lasting and painful consequences. For this reason, conventional wisdom and ERP vendors caution against significant customizations to ERP. Each change to ERP source code adds to the complexity and cost of supporting and maintaining the system. Customized ERP systems can be a nightmare to upgrade because all customizations must be re-introduced or migrated into the new code base and then all changes must be tested again. This reengineering and regression testing process is at the very least expensive and time consuming and at its worst can be cost prohibitive. It is not uncommon for customers with heavily customized ERP systems to remain on outdated versions indefinitely. This inability to upgrade is a problem for not only the customer but also the ERP vendor.

Embedded EDI is a problem for the customer in that they are not able to take advantage of critical fixes or enhancements that are introduced by the ERP vendor. They are in effect receiving zero return for the support and maintenance fees they are paying for their system if they are not upgrading regularly. It is a problem for the ERP vendor in that they must continue to support outdated systems and technology. They are required to spread their resources across multiple supported versions.


Listen to Your ERP Provider

Not surprisingly ERP vendors have taken steps recently to mitigate this problem, particularly within the SaaS ERP solutions. Customers are being strongly discouraged from making any changes to core code, but more importantly customers will no longer be able to remain on a version indefinitely. Microsoft, for example, has implemented a policy of "One version, with all customers on the latest available version". With this policy effective as of January 31, 2019, all users were required to update to a specific version. Going forward there will be twice per year (April and October) mandatory upgrades for all customers using the Microsoft flagship D365 suite of ERP.

Microsoft will disable potentially disruptive new features by default and intends to make the releases backwards compatible to minimize impact to customizations. However, the impact to customers with an embedded EDI solution or a heavily customized ERP will most likely be extensive twice annual regression testing, followed by more code changes and updates to take advantage of new functionality. This will most likely make an embedded EDI solution very difficult and expensive to maintain and why Data Masons promotes the stand-alone approach.

To learn more about how our stand-alone EDI approach can save you time, money, and headaches, read our white paper on EDI and ERP integration without customizations.

Download the "Integration Without Customization:  3 Keys to Automated Integration" Brief

Highlighted Customers, Manufacturing, Exact Software Integration, Exact Software EDI Customers, Supply Chain EDI

Macola Customer, Tolco, Fuels Growth With EDI:

Tolco Corporation, a Macola customer and family-owned molded plastics business has prided themselves on serving small companies for more than 50 years. With growth on their mind, they knew they had to foster new relationships with larger trading partners but they’d have to bring on a Macola EDI integration expert in order to do that — a scary undertaking considering they knew nothing about EDI.

They enlisted the help of Data Masons’ and their EDI solution, Vantage Point, who guided the once gun-shy Tolco, through the process with relative ease. In the four years since, Tolco has experienced so much growth from new business with large trading partners that they are building a new, expanded warehouse space.

James Reising, Tolco’s Data Information Manager, shares “The experience has been great. It’s been well worth the effort that we put into it. It has paid us back many, many times over.”

Watch this video for the full story.

Exact Software Integration, Exact Software EDI Customers

good2grow thumbnail (1).pngA family owned and operated company based in Atlanta, GA, good2grow lives, sleeps and dreams healthy kids drinks, making them America's leading experts in the children's beverage category. But for a company committed to building lasting customer relationships, good2grow's lack of EDI integration had them spending far more time managing order entry and invoicing processes than they were nurturing customer relationships.

Changing their business model from utilizing an in-house warehousing environment to a 3PL, the company's lack of an integrated EDI solution challenged their ability to grow the business as needed. With an abundance of manual data entry requirements to support EDI, resources were being taken away from higher priorities which resulted in huge inefficiencies.             

Today the company has achieved record-breaking 99% efficiency with customer order processing & operates nearly 100% green with a majority of its processes running through EDI. 

Read the case study to learn how good2grow successfully transitioned from an in-house warehousing model to a 3PL, automated the integration of major customers, and increased human capital efficiency with Vantage Point EDI for Macola from Data Masons.  

Read the good2grow Case Study



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

Implementing EDI is no small feat, no matter how stellar the solution, integration or solution partner is (but that certainly helps). That 's why we're extremely excited to see our customers achieving such success with EDI and their Microsoft Dynamics or Macola ERP platforms! We encourage you to take a look at all the different ways our Vantage Point customers are leveraging EDI to automate their supply chain, increase process efficiencies and drive significant cost savings for their businesses.

Whether you're considering an EDI implementation or currently using an EDI solution, we hope by reading these case studies you'll be inspired to achieve more ROI with your EDI investment.

Industry: Manufacturing

Business: Textile - Mitchell Fabrics - Endpoints: Dynamics NAV

Business: Display - Marco Company - Endpoints: Macola

Business: Coasters - Thirstystone - Endpoints: Dynamics GP

Business: Furniture - CorLiving - Endpoints: Macola

Industry: Distribution

Business: Distributor of Castrol Lubricants - Wakefield Canada - Endpoints: Dynamics AX

Industry: Fresh Produce/Food/Beverage

Business: Beverage - good2grow - Endpoints: Macola

Industry: Apparel & Footwear

Business: Apparel - Diane vonFurstenberg - Endpoints: Dynamics AX

Business: Apparel - Topson Downs - Endpoints: Dynamics AX

Thank you to those customers who have shared their stories so that other organizations considering EDI options can learn from your challenges and successes. Is your company included in this list? If not, let us know if you’d like to be added!

I want to be on this list next year!


Exact Software Integration, Exact Software EDI Customers

good-2-grow-logo.pngFamily owned and operated, good2grow®, has always lived, slept and dreamed healthy kids drinks. However as they quickly became America's leading experts in the children's beverage category, they found that the lack of an integrated EDI solution challenged their ability to grow the business as they desired. For a company who is committed to building lasting customer relationships with its trading partner and broker networks, they were spending far more time managing order entry and invoicing processes than they were nurturing customer relationships.

When looking for an EDI solution to integrate with their Exact Macola ERP, Patrick Fredrich, good2grow’s Vice President of IT, stated that the two most important features they were looking for were flexibility and scalability. The company needed an EDI solution that was flexible enough to align with both the company’s and the customers’ evolving business requirements and one that could easily scale as the business expanded. Automated integration of major customers, such as Walmart and Home Depot, was also key as the company wanted to fully-maximize its transactional efficiency with its high volume customers.

The company selected Vantage Point EDI from Data Masons and according to Nick Hutchens, IT Manager at good2grow, the company quickly saw its return on investment. With automation and scheduled task capabilities, the company has achieved record-breaking 99% efficiency with customer order processing and operates nearly 100% green with a majority of its processes running through EDI. Since implementing EDI, the company has also been able to:

  • Remain self-reliant on the company’s in house development team thanks to a comprehensive library of out of the box trading partner maps;
  • Increase human capital efficiency, enabling staff to switch from order takers to customer relationship builders;
  • Successfully transition from an in-house warehousing model to a 3PL environment; and
  • Decrease the time required to onboard new partners and brokers.


Watch these short videos to hear first-hand about good2grow’s experience and how it's leveraging EDI to grow its business faster. 


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.

If integrating your ERP with WMS is causing you anxiety, read our white paper to learn how we've helped other companies create seamless integration.

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. Many of them have overcome challenges and found success with our EDI solution, which can take the headache out of integrating WMS systems and assist with other business processes. Read our white paper to learn more.

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Exact Software Integration

exact_macola_evolve_2016.jpgAs more Exact Macola customers embark on the upgrade journey, hearing from customers who have upgraded and the partners that have supported them has become an integral part of Exact Macola Evolve’s focus. We’re particularly excited to hear Wastequip, a Data Masons Exact EDI customer, share their story of a successful and seamless upgrade to Exact Macola 10.

Complementing Wastequip’s lessons learned from prior upgrades, we’ll educate attendees on how our Exact EDI solutions can further simplify Exact 10 upgrades and deliver all of the business and operational benefits of a fully-integrated supply chain. If you're attending the event and would be interested in meeting with the Data Masons team, please email us with your request. For Exact EDI customers, Molly Kelly, Director of Services, will be on hand at Booth #26 in the Solution Center. Stop by to meet Molly and talk with her about your Exact EDI experience.

Read the Complete Press Release 

Exact Software Integration, Exact Software EDI Customers

exact_macola_evolve_2016Exact Macola is dedicating Exact Macola Evolve 2016 to helping customers become masters of their Exact Macola solutions and to motivate them to find their fierce ambition. Well, we found ours - unparalleled customer service and industry leading EDI solutions. We can't wait to share how our EDI Made Simple strategy can help customers find their fierce, whether it's productivity, operational efficiency or bigger bottomlines that get them there.

With the focus on Exact Macola 10, the agenda is sprinkled with customer success stories, including Exact Macola EDI customer Wastequip. We're looking forward to hearing from Paul Thomas and Jim Widner on how Wastequip prepared for a successful and seamless upgrade to Exact Macola 10. They have an impressive story to share about how they upgraded eight Exact Macola ES instances (with hundreds of users) over a single weekend with normal business activity commencing on Monday morning with almost no user disruptions. Join us at the Wastequip session on Wednesday, April 20th at 2:30PM

EDI is often a major 3rd-party consideration when planning an ERP upgrade, as EDI disruptions and delays can often result in unnecessary costs and jeopardized trading partner relations. While at Exact Macola Evolve, we hope you take the opportunity to visit Data Masons so we can share how EDI for Exact Macola can simplify your upgrade and then continue to deliver operational and financial advantages to your business. Email or call us at 866-575-1631 to schedule a meeting with the fierce Data Masons team or visit us in the Evolve expo center.

Get inspired by other Exact Macola customers who have realized a significant impact from our EDI Made Simple stratgey. Read Exact Macola EDI customer success snapshots and case studies.

Read Customer Successes

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Exact Software Integration, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Vendor EDI, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

trucking_supplier_side_EDI_smWhen most SMBs think about implementing EDI with suppliers there is a common belief that you need to be forced into EDI by enterprise customers or other changes to business requirements.  However, EDI is gaining momentum in becoming a non-mandated technology, delivering significant ROI for both customers and suppliers.

Implementing EDI with suppliers will minimize error-related costs.  By opting to transact electronically with suppliers, carriers or public warehouses, SMBs can eliminate unnecessary labor and paperwork. Take for example ASN management and integration: vendors can send you an ASN at the time of shipment that is integrated into your purchasing, inventory and billing applications.

Large enterprises often mandate their suppliers to do EDI because it saves money, which goes straight to the bottom line.  The same can be said for SMBs and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Continue reading this article

Highlighted Customers, Exact Software Integration, Exact Software EDI Customers

Man_in_warehouseCorLiving began with a simple vision – to provide quality furniture products that are both practical and affordable. However, while their online business continued to grow and presented exciting new sales channel opportunities, CorLiving found that their manual processes were not able to handle the increase in transaction volume. The rise in orders resulted in delays in getting them entered, an increase in data entry errors and ultimately, customers not receiving orders on time.

Dissatisfied customers was simply not an option. CorLiving realized that dealing with a very large volume of one and two piece orders was difficult, and costly, without an automated EDI system to help get all of the tedious details into their ERP system.

In this case study, CorLiving IT Manager Aaron Prior shares the company’s experience with manually managing online order processing and how the results could have jeopardized their growth had they not quickly identified the need for an automated EDI solution for Exact Macola. Prior explains how Data Masons’ Vantage Point EDI solution eliminated the need for manual data entry and streamlined data entry orders with the push of a button. Most of all, with a fully-integrated EDI option in place, CorLiving was able to increase their customer satisfaction level and omni-channel experience

Read the full case study to learn how CorLiving is:  

  • Seamlessly processing over 1000 orders daily with automated EDI;
  • Entering and processing all orders by 10am; and
  • Supporting their increasing transaction volume with a scalable EDI solution.


EDI Expert Insights, Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Exact Software Integration, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, EDI Articles

Buy-Build-1Choosing an EDI software solution for your company is a serious undertaking. The right choice results in a smooth and painless process with strong positive ROI. The wrong choice can have detrimental effects for years with poor ROI and ongoing operational and support issues. One key question we often hear is “Should we build it or buy it?”.

 Commercial solutions (the buy option), are usually the best option for almost all software decisions assuming the solution can meet the business requirements. Commercial solutions are typically the most cost-effective choice since you are spreading the cost of development and ongoing maintenance over a larger population of companies. Unfortunately, they don’t always appear lower cost as many costs of custom solutions are not factored into the cost analysis.

Custom solutions (the build option) are ideally perfectly focused solutions with little or no “bloatware” to add confusion and operational overhead. There is a percentage of businesses that can benefit from custom EDI solutions, but it is extremely low as the future business requirements have to be clearly understood and relatively simplistic. In today’s business economy, with the emergence of omni-channel selling, increasing sophisticated supply chain activities and increasing expectations of business partners that want to eliminate human activities from business transaction processes – predictable and simplistic are not the norm.

Understanding the real risks of a custom solution is critical to making the right decision. Download the brief to decide which is right for your company.

 Get the "Choosing an EDI Solution: Build or Buy?" Executive Brief

Highlighted Customers, Exact Software Integration, Exact Software EDI Customers

grocery_store_displayWhen The Marco Group’s EDI solution reached 13 years of age, the company knew it would be unable to survive the terrible teens with such an outdated system. "Band-aids" and patches had supported the company throughout the years, but at age 13, the system had stopped working and The Marco Group saw its accounts receivables back up into the millions.

The Marco Company is a family-owned business that specializes in providing merchandising solutions for the retail industry including a variety of fixtures, display carts, trays, baskets, backroom organizers and refrigerators. As the company expanded, so did the sheer volume of EDI transactions that were necessary to process customer delivery requirements, something the company’s Gentran EDI technology could not support.

In this case study, Marco Company CIO Bob Durden explains the business and financial drivers behind the decision to seek a newer, better EDI solution.  Durden shares how the company’s previous EDI solution handicapped the organization financially, and handicapped its customer delivery commitments and communication through EDI.  By switching to Vantage Point EDI, The Marco Company eliminated these handicaps with an EDI solution that can automate supply chain processes and scale to support future expansions.

Read the full case study to learn how The Marco Group:  

  • Received a $2.5 Million deposit on the first transaction using Vantage Point EDI;
  • Adopted a scalable solution that can support expanding transaction volumes; and
  • Eliminated manual processes to automate its entire supply chain.

Read the press release here.