Companies use an EDI solutions to fulfill customer or vendor mandates or to manage a growing supply chain. EDI Solutions can include stand-alone software or an integrated system sending data to the company's ERP, accounting, warehousing or supply chain management systems, and typically involve a combination of software and services. Many EDI solution vendors rely heavily on consulting services due to the technical nature of EDI products and services. The challenge for most customers searching for an EDI solution is often the process of deciding which EDI solution is best suited for them, given the similarity in features and benefits in the marketplace.
Choosing the Right EDI Solution
Once your company has decided to acquire an EDI solution, the "from whom" to buy it will become a prominent issue. Regardless of the EDI solution needed, several factors should be weighed.
Whichever EDI solution you end up selecting, it should support all standards in use by your organization and by your trading partners. At a bare minimum, your EDI solutions should support the X12 and EDIFACT standards and all associated subsets of each. It should also support multiple versions of each standard, since not all trading partners will be using the latest standard version.
Ease of Deployment
One key aspect of selecting your EDI solutions should focus on what is often referred to as "trading partner mapping." During this process, you will need to customize your EDI solution with the optional segments and elements that each trading partner customizes per transaction set. There are also "kits" available that have already been set-up to be compliant with the segments and elements that supported trading partners require.
Upgrading your EDI Solution
An additional aspect of selecting EDI solutions involve change. How adaptable to the changing standards is the EDI solution you are about to select? As the X12 and EDIFACT bodies update their standards, your vendor should be able to supply you with updated kits and updated components to bring your EDI solution up to par. Making sure that these updates are easily deployed should be a key aspect of your selection criteria.
As you identify potential EDI solutions providers don't forget to consider support. Look for companies that can provide knowledgeable support professionals who can help you with installation of your EDI solutions as well as use and troubleshooting after the sale. It's always a good idea to ask for references from your EDI solutions vendor.