EDI transmission plays a crucial role in your business, so when switching EDI providers, preparation is key in preventing disruptions and controlling any risks ahead. This blog post outlines five critical steps before changing providers, so you’re ready for when it’s time to flip the switch.
How to choose the right EDI service provider
The best EDI service providers can offer you experience and reliability. Your chosen EDI platform should cater to the specific needs of your industry and improve your operational efficiency.
While some EDI options on the market have a higher price tag than others, the number and type of features they offer vary. For example, some EDI solutions are cloud-based, allowing users to connect to the system anywhere with an internet connection. You should consider how the potential solutions offered by an EDI service will help you process payments, view product availability, help reduce operational costs, and form a direct connection with trading partners and subsidiary companies.
Usually, a company will switch EDI providers due to the following reasons:
- Slow speeds of service and SLA
- The price is not cost-effective
- Bad support service
- Persistent system failures
- Technologically weak solutions
- Inability to access product updates
- The system fails to meet the internal requirements for integration
- The contract terms of the current electronic billing services have become disadvantageous for the company
Where to start and how to prepare to change EDI provider
You can prepare to change EDI providers by making a list of necessities. You should consider how electronic data interchange works within your organization and think of ways you expect a new EDI solution to improve it.
For example, you may wish your EDI service to help you eliminate manual data entry operations. Likewise, you can also consider adding drop ship capabilities, improving inventory visibility, and streamlining the way you claim payments.
Another thing to remember is how fast you wish changes to happen. Some operational issues are more pressing than others, so you may want them solved immediately. On the other hand, some improvements may be better implemented in the future, as they may be easier to achieve once operational efficiency increases. You should consider where you expect your business to be in the future and plan accordingly.
If you have clear goals, it will be easier to compare and contrast EDI solutions to see which fits you best. EDI systems have varied levels of functionality, scalability, and reliability. Likewise, some EDI services offer additional add-ons that can be useful to augment a business’s capabilities.
Potential EDI providers may request essential information to estimate the amount of work required and the cost of the service. It is crucial to outline the EDI standard, the number of trading partners, and the transaction types, among other data.
Information that can be gathered to simplify the process includes:
- The EDI standard (ANSI X12, for example)
- The number of trading partners
- If possible, the name of each trading partner
- The type of documents per trading partner
- The direction of documents (either incoming or outgoing)
- The communication protocols
- The integration interface to the internal system
- The type of deployments, such as on-premise or cloud-based services
EDI software vendors can use this information to analyze business processes and offer the most profitable EDI integration options. For example, healthcare providers must transfer medical claims to insurance providers. Due to this, the product design must be able to accommodate electronic claims submissions.
Changing EDI providers means potentially having to change how business processes are handled. However, switching EDI providers requires less effort and administrative costs than setting up an EDI service from scratch.
In most cases, one can avoid disrupting existing transaction flows by performing the EDI migration process in stages. It is possible to perform testing to guarantee a smooth transition and switch one trading partner at a time. This means that a company can manage the transformation of EDI without interrupting supply chain operations.
How is the process of migrating to a new EDI provider?
There are two main factors to consider when migrating to a new EDI provider. The transition process consists of a formal and a technical part.
The formal aspect of EDI migration is usually managed in around 2 to 5 business days before the agreement is signed. On the other hand, the time it takes to finish the technical part will depend on the type of EDI integration option chosen by the client. Some options require much more technical work than others.
Available integration options include fully managed EDI services, on-premises EDI services, integration with business system services, and EDI web services. The latter can be handled much faster, allowing clients to start using the software a couple of hours after the initial deployment.
5 tips for transitioning to a new EDI provider
Before letting your new provider implement any changes, you should first assess where your business stands today. During this step, take the time to involve business stakeholders and look at your operations with a bird’s eye view to determine your goals. This way, you can communicate a clear focus to your new provider and ensure that they meet the unique needs of your business.
Consider asking your team the following questions:
- What were we doing before that we would like to replicate?
- What needed to be added to our previous EDI provider that we would like to have now?
If you deal with large volumes and complex B2B integrations, you might be looking for a provider with greater expertise that can deliver your data quicker. Additionally, if your team is constantly experiencing the pains of EDI errors and corrections, you might require deeper integration and support from your provider.
Whether you’re looking to decrease costs or help meet customer demand, dedicating time to establish what you would like to improve helps ensure your business relationships, employees, and customers don’t face difficulties down the road.
For a successful transition, talk to your new EDI provider about your goals, priorities, and ambitions so that they can adapt to your needs.
Organizational goals can include:
- Increasing efficiency through automation technologies
- Quicker onboarding of new trading partners to expand in different markets
- Improving supply chain relationships by exchanging more accurate data
- Eliminating manual data entry to keep staff engaged
From the start of your relationship with your new provider, you can establish trust and set expectations on deliverables, allowing you to synergize your efforts toward a common goal.
Another essential step when changing EDI providers is to share all required information about your business for a successful EDI migration. Establishing a comprehensive list of your trading partners, including details of EDI documents, standards, protocols, and your trading partners’ unique requirements, helps you avoid headaches and project delays.
Here is some of the information that you need to share with your new EDI provider:
- Internal stakeholder contacts
- Vendor number
- Direct-to-store vs. warehouse
- Tax Codes
- Store numbers
- Trading partner list
- Preferred method of communication
- EDI Document type
- If UCC 128 or MH-10 Labels are required
- EDI Trading Partner Contact
- Estimated # of monthly transactions
- ERP integration notes
- Business processes
- Validation rules
Want to contribute to moving the project forward? Consider introducing your new EDI provider to your list of trading partner EDI contacts, including the above information. In preparation for such an introduction, it’s helpful to have all this information compiled in an Excel Sheet. If you are curious about what this template would look like, here it is:
Additional Tip: Collaborating with your new provider on when to close the chapter with your previous provider helps avoid delays and overlaps!
After completing the preliminary steps, the implementation process can begin. Most EDI providers follow an implementation process for each EDI implementation. Here is Vantree’s 8-step approach:
During this process, we recommend that your project lead is CC’ed on all correspondence between your supply chain partners and your new EDI provider. This way, they are always in the loop of your progress and can intervene to fix or clarify any issues that might arise.
Based on the preliminary analysis of your business and the discussion you had with your new provider, you should establish milestones that fit your goals. Remember, each business has different priorities, which means no implementations are the same. For example, when you pair an EDI migration with an ERP implementation, companies often use their fiscal year-end as their Go-live date to include all new EDI data in their new fiscal year.
Testing is complete, which means it’s finally time for your Go-Live! As you move into production, any mistake here is very time-sensitive and can feel incredibly frustrating if not resolved quickly. Therefore, during this step, you and your new EDI provider need to conduct heavy monitoring of end-to-end data transmission to ensure the success of your implementation.
From then on, your new EDI provider should provide automated alerts and email notifications to ensure you have complete visibility of what is working and isn’t. You should also confirm you have access to reports on the statuses of your EDI transmissions for sent and received data from and to your supply chain partners through a web portal. Additionally, your new EDI provider should update you on any new trading partner requirements that might change and offer you ongoing expert EDI advice to improve your current processes.
Support for EDI migration projects is constant, so it’s essential always to know how to get in touch with your new EDI provider so they can resolve problems quickly. If you are curious about how Vantree handles requests, check out our blog about Vantree’s team-based support system.
Like any digital transformation, EDI migrations take time. Since EDI data is the lifeblood of your supply chain community, it’s important to prepare and not rush through this process but instead closely collaborate with your partners. Now that you know what to expect in an EDI provider switch, we hope this helps you in your journey. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
How much do ISVs cost?
ISV-certified software has a varied price range. The cost of acquiring an ISV software application depends on its intended purpose and the sophistication of its functionality.
Not all ISV software publishers offer software solutions of equal technical requirements and caliber. Some independent software providers offer entry-level, bare-bones ISV software, while other software companies create powerful apps that can drive a company’s digital transformation.
Revolutionize your electronic data interchange operations with Vantree. Counting on a fully cloud-based EDI service solution, Vantree empowers businesses to manage electronic transactions fast, reliably, and securely. Vantree’s Web EDI users enjoy a personalized workflow and real-time visibility on transactions. Thanks to its automation capabilities, the software is straightforward to use. The Web EDI platform can help increase efficiency while at the same time reducing labor costs.
Vantree uses a dedicated support system that assigns clients to solution agents. Customers can expect support from the same agents constantly without being obstructed by support tickets. With Vantree’s Web EDI, you can send or receive any document at a moment’s notice. This helps companies maintain the best business relationships with their trading partners.