We often get companies come to us when they want to implement EDI. And one of the points of confusion is often around where EDI fits in with their business processes and software. They ask what comes first – is EDI the cart or the horse, the chicken or the egg?

As a general rule, we say EDI should support your business processes, not rule them. We suggest companies map out their process, whether it be existing or what they want them to be, then insert EDI at points that it can help. For example, if you want to scan inventory in when it arrives, you’ll probably choose to use an advanced shipping notice to get the data into your software ahead of time and have your suppliers attach scannable SSCC labels to their shipments. If your software conducts two-, three- or four-way matching, you’ll need to make sure you exchange the relevant messages that are used in those checks.

The other thing is, you don’t want to make your project bigger than Ben Hur – it’s ok to phase in different stages. Start with where it’s simple to bring EDI into the process. Then if there are other pain points down the track that can be resolved with EDI, then add them into the mix. A key reason for why projects can go awry is biting off more than one can chew.

Different industries, and even different businesses or different software all operate in their own ways. And there’s good reason for that. It’s important that you get your processes in a place that suit your business needs. EDI should ideally be used to bring in automation and to reduce your team’s workload.

Here at MessageXchange, our software can help with the EDI portion, but our powerful business process management layer can help fill gaps between EDI and your processes and software. MessageXchange is flexible enough, and smart enough, to cater to processes regardless of their complexity. For example, two-way matching can be conducted within MessageXchange itself by taking the EDI order and invoice and reconciling them against each other, then sending the result on. It can do the same with three-way matching by including the shipping notice too. It can even enhance the data in your message. For example, if you find it’s difficult for you or your suppliers to include a supplier number or GLN, MessageXchange can insert that into messages for you.

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