EDI transmission plays a crucial role in your business, which is why when switching EDI providers, preparation is key in preventing disruptions and controlling any risks ahead. This blog post outlines five critical steps you should take before changing providers so you’re ready for when it’s time to flip the switch.
- Conduct a gap analysis
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 entire business.
Consider asking your team the following questions:
- What were we doing before that we would like to replicate?
- What was missing from 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, then 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.
- Collaborate and communicate your vision as early as you can
For a successful transition, talk to your new EDI provider about your goals, priorities, and ambitions so they can adapt to your needs.
Organization 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
- Eliminate manual data entry to keep staff engaged
By doing so 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.
- Engage in transparent and organized communication
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 useful 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!
- Strategize and execute carefully
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 provide clarity on any issues that might come up.
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.
- Go-live time
Testing is complete, which means it’s finally time for your Go-Live! As you are moving into production, any mistake here is very time-sensitive and if not resolved quickly, can feel extremely frustrating. 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 that point on, your new EDI provider should provide automated alerts and email notifications to ensure you have complete visibility of what is working and what 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, which is why it’s important to always 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 is 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.