Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Supply Chain EDI

supply-chainToday you may be leveraging EDI with your customers, but did you know it can also be used to trade with suppliers, 3rd party warehouse, carriers, etc.? Beyond customers, supplier EDI is the 2nd most requested automation for Vantage Point.  Automation of the procedure-to-pay process such as PO, PO Acknowledgments, ASNS, invoices, and payment remittance can streamline your processes as well as improve communication, accuracy with key suppliers. 

When most small and medium sized companies talk about implementing EDI with suppliers, the first reaction often sounds like, “No one’s forcing us to do that so why would we want to?” The simplest answer is: it saves money, which goes straight to the bottom line, and is the same reason large enterprises mandate their suppliers to do EDI. If you think about EDI as a requirement, something your company must implement if you want to do business with larger organizations, consider the monolithic, error-prone way data gets into your ERP solution – typically via keyboard.

Of course you may be doing business with smaller organizations that may not have EDI capabilities. Did you know that they can be EDI-enabled at a low cost to them and zero cost to you? They can provide you with all of the information needed to integrate common business transactions into your system without data entry personnel on your end. At the same time you can improve communication between you and your suppliers by receiving detailed order confirmations and shipment notifications so you know when goods have left their facility and in transit to yours.

Not only can your company improve the accuracy and speed of communication with suppliers, but many companies are leveraging EDI outside of any requirements because it affords them the opportunity to push their own supply chain costs back downstream. By passing these costs along to their suppliers, they reap the benefits on their bottom lines.

Like these companies, you can minimize error-related costs by opting to transact electronically with suppliers, carriers and/or public warehouses, eliminating 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. When the goods arrive, a single barcode scan can receive the entire shipment, including serial number and lot number registration – fully-automated integration with no manual intervention.

ASNs are one example, but combined with purchase orders and invoice documents, you can see a measurable cost savings across your supply chain. And while the common belief is that you need to be forced into EDI, EDI is gaining momentum in becoming a non-mandated technology option that delivers significant ROI, both on the customer and supplier side. One investment in the right EDI technology can satisfy your customers’ requirements and open the door of opportunity for you to implement more accurate and cost-saving processes.

Learn more about EDI and ERP integration through our white papers and technical briefs. Looking for a product demo? We’re happy to help.

 

 

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Manufacturing, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

Direct of Van Based EDI

Which is best for your company?

As a professional who has helped over 1,000 companies during my career implement EDI with Dynamics as their back office, I often get asked “What method of EDI communication is best for MY company?” Since there are only two main methods of communications; an EDI Value added network (VAN) provider or Direct EDI, my response is typically the same. 20 years ago VAN’s were the only choice; however, most major trading partners support direct communications. Fortunately, the decision for most companies can be straightforward and should be based entirely on business requirements, such as volume of documents, IT support, and services being provided by your EDI provider.

Differentiating Direct vs VAN

Direct EDI, such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or standards such as AS2, establishes a secure line between two business partners. With minimal software and an internet connection, companies can now connect to their trading partner base with no per document fees. Certain industries or partners may require or highly suggest this form of communication such as Wal-Mart, Lowes, Cardinal Health, etc. because it is closer to real time communications, and avoids costly per document fees for both parties.  

An EDI VAN is a secure outsourced network where EDI documents can be exchanged between business partners. Your company is provided with a ‘mailbox’ from which EDI documents are sent and received, similar to traditional paper based mail (snail mail). The “value added” part of the mailbox are often services like mail notifications, inspect, authentication, and validating the message.  Messages are tracked and recorded for auditing purposes, as well as other services available through VANs, such as backup and recovery, mapping, compliance, and more.

Learn more about how simple EDI can be with the right partner. Download our white paper.

Deciding Which Method is Best for Your Company

A Direct EDI connection may be best if:

  • You are trading a higher volume of EDI documents, frequently (typically more than 500 per month)
  • Your trading partners have varying requirements, particularly with communications protocols (AS2, FTPS, SFTPS, etc.).
  • You have an internal IT resources to setup and maintain the direct connections OR your EDI provider offers assistance in this setup and support. 

A VAN may be better if:

  • Your business partners do not support a direct EDI communications and/or you anticipate having a lower count of trading partners.
  • You are trading a low volume of EDI documents (typically less than 500 documents per month).
  • You want to outsource communications.
  • You have limited IT resources.

When selecting the option which would make the most sense for you, there are a few questions you need to ask:

1)      Does my trading partner support direct EDI?

2)      What type of EDI traffic do I anticipate?

3)      What IT resources will be required?

4)      What support/assistance will my EDI provider give me related to communications?

One of the biggest factors in communication choice, in addition to what options your partners support, is your anticipated volume. You want to keep in mind that certain transactions will equal other transactions. So if you receive in 100 POs per month, and now need to send out PO Acknowledgments, shipment notifications, Invoices—those 100 POs often result in 400+ documents per month, when you factor in at least a one to one relationship (and don’t forget about resends, or partial shipments!). There may also be supporting transactions such as PO changes, Inventory Levels, payment remittance advises that need to be counted as well. 

Monthly Cost of VANs

 

                   ****Cost Per Document *****

**Doc Count**

0.25

0.50

0.75

1.00

100

 $        25.00

 $        50.00

 $        75.00

 $        100.00

500

 $     125.00

 $     250.00

 $     375.00

 $        500.00

1,000

 $     250.00

 $     500.00

 $     750.00

 $    1,000.00

5,000

 $  1,250.00

 $  2,500.00

 $  3,750.00

 $    5,000.00

10,000

 $  2,500.00

 $  5,000.00

 $  7,500.00

 $  10,000.00

NOTE--Does not include mailbox fee or other services.

You also want to factor in how your volume will change over time. For instance, do you expect to add new customers? Will you increase your volume of orders? Will you change your shipping patterns? For example, shipping to a distribution center tends to be low PO count but high product count, whereas ship to stores are middle volume, and ship to consumer is often many small orders.

The decision to go with a VAN provider vs (or in addition to) Direct EDI is an important discussion based on budget, resources, and trading partner requirements. When selecting an EDI provider, it’s important to make sure they can support multiple methods and choice in communication, beyond other areas that are critical (good technical support, deep knowledge of the ERP, integration of the documents you need to process, etc.).  

To learn more about which EDI solution is right for you, and how we can support your EDI efforts with EDI Made Simple®, read our white paper.

Executive Brief: EDI Made Simple: A New Approach

 

EDI Expert Insights, Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

EDI and ERP Integration Without Customization

EDI and ERP Integration: Three Keys to Automated Integration

Technology and business process automation are increasingly becoming strategic components of success for today’s digital economy. Whether you’re a manufacturer, distributor, retailer, 3PL or in the CPG, automotive or food industries, your competitiveness is often tied to two critical business applications responsible for managing your business, ERP and EDI. Successful implementations of these two key technologies can drive costs out of your supply chain execution and improve key metrics such as revenue per employee and cost per business transaction.

ERP systems handle finances, inventory, manufacturing and the business execution aspects of your operations. Your EDI system handles electronic interactions (transactions) with your supply chain (trading partners) including customers, suppliers, logistics organizations, banks and more.

With regard to handling the supply chain, ERP creates, receives, and manages these business transactions, while EDI transforms and communicates these transactions and instructions to and from your supply chain partners. ERP and EDI must be connected to achieve the maximum efficiencies of each. With a tightly integrated supply chain, integrated EDI will reduce labor costs and expensive errors as well.

Clearly these two systems should be connected, but the truth is that most companies are connected poorly or not connected at all. The principal challenge in integration is that while the information these systems handle (products, prices, delivery, etc.) is the same, the ERP context and format of the data used varies greatly amongst ERP systems (partners) and is very different from the data in your ERP system. This means the data must be cross-referenced, validated and formatted precisely to create accurate business transactions in your ERP system and in the ERP systems of your partners. 

The transaction integration gap is often solved by modifying the ERP to manage the transactions received and sent by EDI.  Common ERP based approaches include staging tables, and complex data “scrubbing” and formatting which can result in expensive ERP modifications that are invasive and inhibit updates to the ERP. These customizations are rarely well automated and require frequent manual intervention.

Integration Without Customization

There are three main criteria for achieving automated integration between your EDI and ERP systems without ERP customizations. 

  1. A strong understanding of the ERP system and the best practice approach to integration.
  2. Utilization of a processing platform that is flexible and combines knowledge of the data in the ERP platform so data is sent accurately to the ERP and follows the end user’s business requirements.
  3. Reduced user involvement with strong error trapping with alerts and automated error resolution wherever possible.

Integration without customization is possible. Read to learn more.

The Old Way

Historically, connecting EDI to ERP systems required the export of the information from a translator that would reformat data received from partners into a common format that could be imported into the ERP system.  The next step would be for the ERP system to do all of the “heavy lifting” – i.e. all of the error handling, data scrubbing and “cross-referencing” before attempting to create a proper transaction.  Outbound transactions require even more effort from the ERP system by expecting the ERP system to understand all of the partner and transactional relationships, and even provide information that is extraneous to the ERP (“turnaround data” usually received on the inbound transaction) back to the translator.  This unpredictable “turnaround” data usually has no native storage area in the ERP system and requires customization for storage so that it can be passed back to the translator at the correct moment.  Since the demands and needs of current and future partners are nearly impossible to anticipate, ongoing customizations are the norm for most ERP platforms. 

Organizations that undertake ERP customization projects for EDI integrations frequently report the same problems which include: 

  • Over budget ERP implementations.
  • Difficult and expensive ERP upgrades.
  • High ongoing cost of maintenance.
  • Transactions “falling through the cracks” due to the decoupled nature of Translators and ERP transactions.  This is caused by multiple points of failure in the solution and lack of transaction lifecycle audits.
  • Unplanned disruption of ERP production environments to meet external mandates from partners.

 The Solution

Full integration requires a strong and well architected connection between the EDI and the ERP data so that the business rules and validations can be performed at the time the transaction is processed. A system that understands the unique EDI and ERP processing requirements can stand between the two processes; the ERP data and the EDI trading partners. That system must be specifically attuned to the way the ERP ‘thinks’ so that it can pass information between the systems without undue burden on the ERP.  Additionally the EDI processing platform has to understand the relationships between partners and the ERP transactions to avoid customizations.  “Turnaround” data has to be stored in a manner that is flexible and accessible to the outbound transactions.

Taking full advantage of the opportunities of advanced supply chain automation requires experts who understand both the ERP and EDI. Many EDI shops don’t have experts in the ERP system that must reliably connect the EDI data nor the correct platform to make it work without ERP customizations. To be an expert in EDI to ERP integration, there must be a deep understanding of the implementation, maintenance and lifecycle development of the ERP so that transactions are handled correctly every time.

Many EDI service providers offer EDI compliance, but very few make the commitment to coupling those capabilities with expert ERP integration that avoids ERP customizations.  Only those organizations can support such end-to-end integration in the long-term.

To download this article in an easy to read pdf, download our white paper here.

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

Manufacturing, Dynamics NAV EDI Customers, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics User Groups, Supply Chain EDI

NAVUG As a member of NAVUG, Data Masons was pleased to present to the NAVUG community on EDI integration.


Recorded Webinar: Vantage Point EDI Solution for Dynamics NAV

Data Masons offers exceptional EDI and Dynamics NAV integration, without the need to customize Dynamics NAV. This unique approach to EDI allows our customers a robust integration tool and the freedom to upgrade to the latest versions of NAV, all without the expense and complexity of modifying the ERP.

In this recording by NAVUG, Data Masons' Senior EDI Specialist, Glenn McPeak, takes Dynamics NAV customers through a brief presentation and product demonstration of the Vantage Point EDI solution. Take a moment to watch this robust tool in action, or contact us to schedule a 1:1 product demonstration and discuss how Data Masons can help with your Dynamics NAV and EDI integration needs.

 

Supply Chain EDI, EDI Articles

ec-bp_image1We like to share revelant, best practices on EDI with our followers. Please enjoy this article from ec-bp.

Accuracy and Consistency. In any business, it’s rare to find anything that’s “always true.” But to say you can vastly improve accuracy and consistency by using EDI (electronic data interchange) instead of paper for your order processing comes very close to being, well, a fact. And an obvious, almost direct benefit to improvements in these areas can be seen in the bottom line. 


Read the full article on the ec-bp EDI Best Practices Blog

EDI Expert Insights, Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Dynamics AX EDI Customers, Vendor EDI, Supply Chain EDI

Glenn_McPeak

By Glenn McPeak, EDI and ERP Expert

When most small and medium sized companies talk about implementing EDI with suppliers, the first reaction is “No one is forcing us to do that so why would we want to?” The simple answer is the same reason large enterprises mandate their suppliers to do EDI: it saves money, which goes straight to the bottom line. If you think about EDI as a requirement, something your company must implement if you want to do business with larger organizations, consider the monolithic, error-prone way data gets into your ERP solution – typically via keyboard.

Of course you may be doing business with smaller organizations that may not have EDI capabilities. Did you know that they can be EDI-enabled at a low cost to them and zero cost to you? They can provide you will all of the information needed to integrate common business transactions into your system without data entry personnel on your end. At the same time you can improve communication between you and your suppliers by receiving detailed order confirmations and shipment notifications so you know when goods have left their facility and in transit to yours.

Not only can your company improve the accuracy and speed of communication with suppliers, but look at what some other companies are doing, such as USA Discounters and Swisher. They are leveraging EDI outside of any requirements because it affords them the opportunity to push their own supply chain costs back downstream. By passing these costs along to their suppliers, they reap the benefits on their bottom lines.

Like these companies, you can minimize error-related costs by opting to transact electronically with suppliers, carriers and/or public warehouses, eliminating 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. When the goods arrive, a single barcode scan can receive the entire shipment, including serial number and lot number registration – fully-automated integration with no manual intervention.

ASNs are one example, but combined with purchase orders and invoice documents, you can see a measurable cost savings across your supply chain. And while the common belief is that you need to be forced into EDI, EDI is gaining momentum in becoming a non-mandated technology option that delivers significant ROI, both on the customer and supplier side. One investment in the right EDI technology can satisfy your customers’ requirements and open the door of opportunity for you to implement more accurate and cost-saving processes.

Data Masons makes EDI Simple for companies of all sizes. Learn more in our brief:

Download the "EDI Made Simple -  A New Approach to EDI" Brief

Dynamics GP EDI, Advanced Ship Notice (ASN), Third-party Logistics, Dynamics ERP Integration, Convergence 2013, Supply Chain EDI

SimplicityTranslating raw data formats to meet EDI requirements is a common function provided by EDI solution providers, but how they deliver this function varies from one vendor to another. And while you may not look at how this function is implemented as a critical component when selecting an EDI provider, it should be.

Some EDI providers rely on legacy translators such as Gentran® to manage data reformatting and mapping of EDI data. As the customer, you may think this is a good option as it sounds simple enough, but it’s actually a challenge-filled proposition for your business. By employing a separate solution to handle translation apart from integration, you’ve introduced a separate point of failure and divided responsibility for true end-to-end EDI processing which inhibits your ability to manage EDI efficiently and cost-effectively.

Once you’ve doubled the number of technology vendors supporting EDI, now you have the additional challenge of who owns what when issues arise. Instead of managing the issue with a single vendor, you have the added complication of working with two, which can delay resolution and put the accurate and timely execution of EDI at risk.

Since most translators do little more than reformat data, they invariably require extra procedures and ERP programming to make EDI work, requiring more risk, resources, and costs, to handle EDI mapping, setup and integration. In the world of EDI, partner onboarding delays can cost your company sales opportunities plus the fines associated with chargebacks. In some cases, poor EDI implementations can jeopardize trading partner relationships.

And then there’s the issues that arise when you have to design changes to your ERP that requires a host of unknowns, invasive changes that compromise upgrades, service pack installations, etc. Does it make sense to modify your most critical business application to overcome the inherent limitations of an EDI translator?

What’s the alternative to using an EDI solution with a 3rd-party translator? It’s an all-in-one EDI solution that offers all of the EDI functionality, seamless ERP integration, end-to-end automation, with a single technology solution. Coupled with Services from EDI experts that are also experts in your ERP platform – you have a recipe for an amazing ROI and simplification of your business activities. The right technology and service provider reduces risk, speeds partner onboarding, and enables you to focus on what you do best – manage your business.

When it comes time to streamline your business by optimizing EDI, choose a provider that can manage your EDI end-to-end. Use this helpful scorecard to help you evaluate integrated EDI solutions.

One example of Data Masons’ innovative technology is to provide data transmitted to you by your partners without forcing the ERP system to store and return what is extraneous data to your ERP system back to the translator. All of the inbound data is stored and available to Vantage Point EDI’s advanced mapping system to provide the needed information to the partner.

Dynamics AX EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Supply Chain EDI

Vantage Point EDI enhances the company’s supply chain solutions for clients in the food & beverage and consumer products industries

Data Masons Software, LLC., a leading provider of Integrated EDI and XML solutions for Microsoft Dynamics customers, and Next Generation Logistics, Inc., a leading provider of managed freight services, TMS software, and supply chain consulting services, today announced a strategic technology partnership. Next Generation Logistics selected Data Masons’ Vantage Point EDI solution to complement the capabilities of its FreightMaster TMS® and Dynamics TMS® Software. With this partnership Next Generation Logistics can extend their support of its customers’ strategic visions by providing innovative EDI solutions that streamline and automate EDI document processing with transportation partners.

“We’re excited that our partnership with a trusted EDI provider like Data Masons will increase our customers’ competitive advantage by providing them with additional domain expertise and industry-focused technology solutions. When selecting an EDI partner, Data Masons’ technology strategy aligned with our own focus on offering a low total cost of ownership, leveraging existing infrastructure and delivering robust solutions. While our TMS software provides a complete enterprise transportation management planning and execution platform, Vantage Point EDI will allow customers’ to quickly and easily integrate EDI data with Microsoft Dynamics and automate key EDI processes, without complexity and unnecessary ERP customizations... Read Complete Press Release

Remote Warehouse Integration, Advanced Ship Notice (ASN), Third-party Logistics, Supply Chain EDI

From EDI Expert, Glenn McPeak:

The automation of the transaction flow in the world of EDI is unclear for companies that want to automate the exchange of business documents between themselves (OEM for this discussion) and a sub-contract manufacturer, or those companies that are the subcontracting partner for others. Issues such as materials ownership, stocking, arrival notification, production scheduling, ERP system integration and the costing of the goods and service are not always well understood by EDI and ERP systems.

Often times the service provided is just one step in a manufacturing sequence that’s driven by a step in a shop order, as opposed to a purchase order or similar document. Some component materials may be provided by the sub-contractor, while others are owned by the buyer of the product and service. Lack of communication and integration of business systems between the contractor and OEM often result in scheduling conflicts, stock shortages and other supply chain execution problems.

Handling these situations in a manual environment has its challenges and high overhead given the exchange of emails, phone calls, etc. that require manual re-entry into ERP systems. Automating this critical flow via EDI or another electronic document exchange can be confusing since there are some ambiguous documents that might be used, but have their pitfalls and shortcomings as well.

One potentially obvious flow is the Purchase Order, Advance Ship Notice and Invoice process since it’s probably the most common document set in the world of EDI and is widely supported by many systems. Yet this “set” of documents doesn’t make sense in the context of the business transactions at hand – the contract manufacturing of a product that may not even exist within the ERP system since it could be an intermediate step in creation of the “real” item that is tracked in inventory. In fact, the purchase order represents the service of the contracted process and that is the financial value reflected in the purchasing system and invoice. Additionally the PO, ASN and Invoice flow does not provide visibility of flow of materials to the contractor that they don’t purchase, nor the communication of inventory deviations of customer-owned products.

There are other document sets that can also be considered, but for the sake of brevity let’s consider the set that provides the most comprehensive and cohesive documents referred to in the world of ANSI X.12 EDI – the 94X Series. These documents specifically are:

  • 940 – Warehouse Shipping Order – instruction to the contractor
  • 943 – Warehouse Shipping Order
  • 944 – Warehouse Stock Transfer Receipt Advice
  • 945 – Warehouse Shipping Advice
  • 947 – Warehouse Inventory Adjustment Advice

This transaction set is designed for Third-Party Logistic Providers (3PL’s), but has all of the necessary characteristics to meet the needs of the OEM / Contractor Relationship. The possible use of these documents is described below.

  • The 940 can be used to communicate the initiation of a production process and can communicate where to ship the goods to continue the process and can emanate from the shop order or purchase order.
  • The 945 communicates the shipment of the sub-contracted materials back to the OEM and can be used to update the shop order and possibly satisfy the Purchase Order, if desired or needed.
  • The 943 alerts the contractor that inbound goods, purchased by the OEM are to arrive so that planning put away and validation of the goods can be done.
  • The 944 can be used by the contractor to communicate the actual receipt of the goods so that those raw materials purchase orders can be “received” and inventory updated accordingly.
  • The 947 can be used to communicate the gain/loss of material due to miscues or unavoidable shrinkage.

While the use of the 94X document automation of the OEM to Contract Manufacturer is not the only possible document set to utilize in this process, it does have all of the characteristics needed to handle this information flow very effectively.

Dynamics AX EDI, Automotive Supply Chain EDI, Dynamics GP EDI, Dynamics NAV EDI, Dynamics ERP Integration, Supply Chain EDI

With Microsoft continuing to develop industry specific solutions, such as those for the automotive manufacturing industry, more frequently Dynamics-based organizations are relying on vertically-specialized Dynamics ISVs to complement their ERP investments. For automotive suppliers, they need to implement more flexible, powerful and responsive production systems to stay ahead of the competition. Understanding this requirement, Microsoft Dynamics’ automotive manufacturing software solutions deliver the key capabilities to automotive manufacturers, but an ISV with automotive supply chain expertise can deliver the extra nudge needed to surpass the competition. >>Read Full Post