In an earlier blog post I outlined the 10 things you should know when looking at EDI, E-Commerce solutions. In the next series of blog articles I will explore these in more depth. So lets start at the top.
1. Your trading partner’s recommended solution is not the best bet in most cases. A trading partner will push a preferred solution because it serves their purposes not yours. In 20 years this has not changed. The selected supplier will push hard because it is an easy way to enlarge market share – the pressure sale around meeting a trading partners deadline.
Why is this an issue?
Your trading partner’s objective is getting their supplier base transmitting electronically. Why? It saves them money! They don’t care how the data is entered at your end, they just care that they get a compliant electronic feed. So they partner with company X to promote their e-commerce program and get you compliant.
So what is the issue?
Well put simply no one has your interest at heart. Your trading partner wants to get you live and the compliance partner wants to make some money making you compliant and hopefully convince you to be a client using your trading partner’s requirements as the stick to force you to buy their solution.
The stupidity of this approach is that it gives everyone in the industry a bad name. The high pressure sales guy or gal who preys on the supplier’s ignorance and coerces them into buying his or her solution, the trading partner for forcing a paid compliance testing program and ultimately the industry itself for allowing these games to go on.
There is a better way. The more forward thinking partners (Walmart and Home Depot come to mind) allow you to self-test using a web portal, either that they have developed or they have outsourced from a third party. There is no cost involved to the supplier. The days when EDI syntax was the issue are few and far between; today it’s all in the data. The real testing of data doesn’t start until you are live and in production anyway! So why go through compliance testing? Well old habits die-hard and because EDI departments are not funded properly at most major corporations. Even though they are critical elements in the supply chain, it’s easy to outsource the testing to a third party, because it’s supposedly cheaper and that’s where the problems arise.
So to the buyer ask yourself these simple questions.
1. Is the solution right for me or am I being pressured to buy something I don’t need even though I may have to test with this solution provider, Can I use my existing system?
2. If I am adding more than one partner to an existing solution is it time to look at integration, if I am not already integrated, rather than just adding to what I have?
3. Am I adding another web solution into the mix of what I already have? Does it make sense?
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