Working in supply chain over the past 25 years, I’ve witnessed the evolution of EDI – and a revolution in the way organizations transact with their trading partners.
From the day the American National Standards (ANSI) created the Accredited Standards Committee (ASC – X12) to regulate EDI in 1979 to over 200,00 organizations utilizing EDI to automate their supply chains today, business to business commerce and retail e-commerce is set to hit $12 trillion worldwide by 2020 (Frost & Sullivan).
But the confluence of EDI adoption and cloud-based software has led many organizations to outsource many roles and responsibilities historically assigned to EDI managers to third-party EDI providers.
This shift has led many across the supply chain spectrum to wonder:
“Is The Role of EDI Manager Dead?”
In some ways, yes. Say goodbye to the days when EDI is simply seen as a “cost of doing business”, and welcome the new wave of proactive, supply chain automation. In other words, the role of EDI manager hasn’t died, it’s evolved – for the better. But to compete, you need to be ready.
I believe this role will evolve from EDI manager to “Director of Collaboration” Your responsibilities to reduce cost and increase revenue are under a magnifying glass as automation is considered. It’s time to ensure you’re prepped and prepared for this evolution.
From discussions with supply chain professionals over the past two decades, I’ve noticed the following skill sets to be especially critical to survive in today’s uber-competitive marketplace:
Three Key Skills Every EDI Leader Should Have
1. Data Analysis and Insights
EDI standardization continues to grow because organizations are continually looking to guarantee or getting as close as reasonably possible, to a predictable outcome across their supply chain. EDI managers (or shall I say, Directors of Collaboration) will succeed in the future by analyzing and considering options.
As an EDI practitioner, you have access to a tremendous amount of data that flows through your systems. You need to harness and analyze that data for the benefit your organization. Your value to the organization will be to provide insights relating to data that is flowing through the supply chain systems and deliver recommendations based on your data analysis.
2. Decision Making and Presentation of New Technologies and Processes
Empower yourself and those around you to make better business decisions around your supply chain. Be aware of your organization’s internal capabilities and systems and processes that drive your organization’s success. Identifying the deficiencies within the supply chain system and make recommendations where EDI data sets will be helpful to automate those systems.
For example, let’s say your organizations runs a warehouse that does not have an automated process in place for receiving goods. You may suggest the use of an EDI Advance Ship Notice (ASN) as a solution. Or you might recommend to automate inventory updates to your customer’s ecommerce platforms insuring that you don’t miss a sale.
3. Analytics and Exception Management
Moving forward, you’ll need to align with your organization’s compliance team to become aware of opportunities to drive additional value within your business leveraging EDI related data.
For example, if your fulfillment operation is struggling with maintaining on time delivery performance to your customers, you may suggest systems or a process to become more proactive than reactive.
On the supply side, it will be your job to know and ensure that you comply with customer-driven business rules, and avoid the dreaded chargebacks that come with business rule violations.
If you work for a buying organization, you’ll need to ensure compliance and standardization across your supplier community, and scorecard suppliers based on past data.
EDI Practitioners Must Extend Beyond Mundane EDI
EDI practitioners of the future will need to extend beyond the monotony of managing the day to day EDI operations. Automation will decrease some responsibilities, but you’ll need to continue to work with suppliers and customers along with providing value to management by knowing what’s working in the supply chain and what’s not.
In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek at what your EDI dashboard will look like in your new role as “Director of Collaboration”.