Electronic Data Interchange has been around for quite some time – especially in industries like retail or manufacturing. By enabling fast and efficient data exchange between business parties, EDI helps companies save time and money. However, as those corporations grow and expand, they often find their old EDI systems to be less and less sufficient. They start to notice they need something better suited to the challenges of a fast-paced business world. Where should they look for help? While finding the best EDI solution can be time-consuming and costly, this article will offer some tips to speed up the selection process.
What is an EDI Provider?
EDI services provider is a third-party company that provides, supports, and manages EDI solutions for businesses. These solutions are delivered by services and/or software designed specifically to:
- Exchange documents between business partners
- Process the documents
- Manage received and sent data
- Make the communication between two business parties more efficient
EDI providers may also offer additional resources, such as document mapping, data enrichment, compliance with e-Invoicing, e-Reporting requirements, business multi-document validation, and reporting. Sometimes those amenities may include data-related services like data backup or recovery. EDI solution providers can specialize in aiding dedicated market segments or they can create software for many different types of businesses. Regardless of their range of activity, they all enable organizations to exchange business information in a standardized and structured format to improve operational efficiency and accuracy of data.
7 Things to Look for in an EDI Provider
Finding the right EDI provider is an important task that requires in-depth analysis of the way data exchange processes are currently carried out at your company. It’s good to start from the basics, such as:
- What is your current EDI solution/system?
- What are your needs?
- What are your weak points?
What could be automatized in order to make your work more efficient?
These are important questions to ask before looking for a new solution. The answers will help you define what could the best EDI services provider mean in your company’s unique context.
But of course, that’s only one approach.
The second is to look at the potential provider and what they have to offer. To be able to deliver fast and secure transmission of data from all around the globe, your new EDI provider needs to integrate certain solutions, characteristics, and services.
What are they? Here are some of the most important criteria to take under consideration:
1. Cloud EDI Solution
Cloud-based solutions are flexible, mobile, easily available, secure, and sustainable. They help run operations more smoothly and therefore save costs as well as human labor. It is clear, then, that the best EDI provider should offer cloud infrastructure that relies on modern technologies such as AI/ML and can be used anywhere, anytime.
2. The global presence of EDI services provider
Another important factor to consider when choosing an EDI service provider is their global reach. This is of critical importance, because modern documentation is being exchanged with everyone, everywhere.
A global presence with a local approach means:
- Broader reach, greater visibility, enhanced simplification, and independence from systems;
- Better support for regional law regulation (particularly important in the exchange of e-invoices);
- Access to a skilled staff that can help you with the local language and understanding regional differences.
3. Compliance with legal requirements for document exchange
When choosing an EDI solution provider, you need to find out if their rules comply with legal regulations for data exchange in your region. This legal compliance needs to be maintained throughout the project and beyond. What does it mean? Your provider’s solution must be flexible enough to be adjusted to whatever regulations will be put in place in the future. It’s also important to check if the provider offers continuous compliance with legal requirements – not in the form of modules that require constant upgrades. Lastly, given the fact that in many countries data exchange is a legal requirement, it is worth making sure that your provider has experience in that area and is able to exchange documents with the government platform.
4. Integration with your architecture
Companies with subsidiaries all over the world have to face different regulations and therefore need to use different tools, software, and local systems. That’s why your new EDI solution provider should be able to integrate them all into one platform with as little interference as possible.
Your provider should be able to align your business with the correct channels, ERP, business systems, and EDI. Choosing the right provider means having a reliable partner by your side to ensure proper integrations and future ERP system upgrades that strengthen your architecture without compromising your system.
5. Flexibility, industry experience, and ability to exchange all document formats
Choosing the right EDI outsourcing services should also be contingent upon the provider’s flexibility and previous experience in the industry. That’s because vast experience usually entails:
- A deeper understanding of your business processes
- A better grasp of standards and regulations in your trade
- More efficient problem-solving methods
- Greater possibility of existing cooperation with your partners which makes for faster and easier integration of document exchange.
As far as flexibility goes, it’s extremely important to check whether your new EDI provider supports all of the document formats and standards your business partners use. That’s especially important if your partners operate in different parts of the world and may work with different formats. (For example – the EDIFACT format is popular in Europe, while the X12 format is primarily used in the USA). Your new provider needs to have the necessary skills and experience in that area to be able to handle the high variability in transmitted documents.
6. Involvement of the provider in the migration and maintenance phase of EDI
When choosing a supplier, it’s good to assess how much of the initial work will be carried out by your own IT resources vs. by the supplier.
- Who will manage the communication – you or the supplier?
- Who will take care of the onboarding process?
- Who will be responsible for the migration of the data?
In most cases, it will be helpful to use the potential of your EDI provider and outsource those tasks to minimize the workload of your team, so it’s important to choose a supplier who can manage that well.
Another thing to consider is whether your potential EDI services provider has strong coverage in establishing relationships with your partners, as it will make the onboarding process much easier.
What’s more, you need to remember that the provider shouldn’t be responsible just for maintaining your EDI platform. You can also rely on them to follow the evolution of legislation related to electronic exchanges. Your EDI provider should be able to advise you on technical issues and dealings with your trading partners.
7. Technical flexibility and security
The best EDI solution is one that can be adapted to match the technical needs of your trading partners. Some of them will only want the web-based EDI option, while others will be interested in the total EDI integration. Both of those solutions have their strong sides and will fit different businesses based on their size and technological maturity. Your EDI provider should be able to integrate with your existing business systems, such as your ERP or accounting software. This will help streamline your EDI processes and avoid any disruptions to your operations. Make sure that the EDI provider has experience with integrating with the specific systems you use
When choosing the provider, it is important that they offer all of these possibilities:
- EDI exchanges
- API document exchanges
- E-mail document exchanges
- Web-portal document exchange
Interoperability document exchange. This way, you’ll be able to satisfy both the partners who require strong EDI integration and those who lack adequate IT resources and therefore need an easier alternative, like the EDI web portal.
What’s more, your EDI service provider should supply them with the necessary technical support, regardless of the chosen option – preferably in the same language your trading partners speak. This will minimize the risk of misunderstandings and ensure efficient communication.
Finally, one of the most important things to consider when choosing a new EDI solution provider is the security of data exchange. With EDI, you will be sharing sensitive data with your trading partners, including financial data, customer information, and product details. It is critical that your EDI provider has robust security measures in place to protect this data. Look for an EDI provider that uses encryption to secure your data in transit and at rest, and has strict access controls to ensure that only authorized users can access your data. They should also have proper data backup and disaster recovery procedures in place in case of a data breach or system failure. Accreditations and certifications should be accessible to your organization to ensure compliance at all times.
Why Should You Choose Comarch as Your New EDI Provider?
Overall, choosing the right EDI provider is critical to the success of your business. By considering the factors mentioned above, you can find an EDI provider that meets your specific needs, helps you streamline your operations, and ensures the security of your data.
Everything the best EDI provider should encompass – from cloud-based solutions to vast global reach and years-long industry experience – can be found in Comarch EDI. As one of the top IT enterprises in the world, with clients like Metro, Danone, Unilever, BIC, Carrefour, Hamelin Group, La Redoute, MAN Truck & Bus SE, Strabag, or Agfa, Comarch offers cutting-edge technology that helps with the automation of various processes in business operations.
Comarch EDI’s key features include:
- Data Management
- Optimization of the supply chain management
- Data exchanging
- Different types of EDI implementation (web, API, PDFor integrated)
- EDI Managed Services (like onboarding)
- Transparent pricing
Together, those services provide a comprehensive approach to data exchange and document management, thus greatly optimizing otherwise long and costly supply chain processes. Comarch’s EDI solution minimizes the risk of errors in data and ineffective communication between business partners and suppliers, as well as customers and logistics operators. What are some other advantages that Comarch’s solution can offer?
Based on technologies like AI/ML , Comarch EDI software gives you:
- reduced amount of administrative work;
- lower costs of data management;
- better relationships with business partners.
With its broad scope of EDI-managed services, Comarch’s EDI Platform ensures optimal data transmission and high-quality information required by users. Every step of the process – from document creation through monitoring up to archiving – is performed at a high standard of security. This holistic and exhaustive outlook can be very beneficial and adapted to many distinct systems – regardless of your client’s IT maturity. In the event of any technical issues, Comarch’s multilingual Service Desk is also ready to provide customers with continuous support who can help you with any issues that arise, and provide training and support to ensure that you are using the system effectively. Additionally, Comarch offers transparent pricing, with no hidden fees or charges, and that can help you save money through automation and process optimization.
Comarch EDI is a comprehensive solution for all businesses looking to optimize the way their data exchange is handled. Thanks to the use of innovative technologies, this EDI platform can help you save time and money, as well as strengthen your business relations.
Find out more about Comarch’s EDI software and its benefits.