CIOs and Heads of IT for manufacturing and retail organizations need to ensure that business information flows smoothly between their organization and its partners and vendors. Frictionless data exchange is critical for efficient operations and strong supplier relationships. However, there’s no guarantee that your supply chain partners use the same information systems, transmission protocols, or data formats as you do, and this can create a lot of extra work and potential for error. You would have to reconcile differences and map data between your own system and each one of your partners individually. Every time you engage with a new vendor, you would have to repeat this exercise. That doesn’t sound like fun.
It pays to choose a partner communication tool that simplifies partner onboarding by offering intelligent data mapping tools that help you avoid noncompliance and expensive chargebacks. Some solutions offer complete automation, while others give you drag-and-drop controls for a more intuitive manual experience. Most solutions also include pre-built business rule templates and management tools that let you customize re-use entire sets of existing business rules instead of having to start from scratch for each partner. These tools will help you cut down on onboarding time. It’s also important to select a solution that goes beyond traditional, VAN-based EDI and allows organizations to communicate with all of their partners, whether or not a specific partner uses traditional EDI data formats and services.
After the new vendor has been added to your EDI system, there are still many opportunities to improve your data interchange operations. Perhaps the most significant improvement comes from integrating your EDI platform with internal business processes. By unifying your ERP and EDI systems, you’ll drastically reduce transfer times, because you’ll be able to send information to your partners from within your ERP system. You won’t have to worry about having information locked away in several different email accounts. There will be no need to manually copy ERP information into a separate EDI system. Whether you need to send POs, invoices, or shipping information, you’ll be able to transmit these documents with just a few clicks.
Integration with ERP systems offer several other advantages to EDI operations. ERP platforms offer a way to centrally manage all EDI activities. Their robust reporting capabilities allow real-time performance monitoring via visually engaging dashboards that can be customized to suit your specific needs. You will receive alerts as soon as specific thresholds are exceeded, which will help you catch transmission issues and exceptions much earlier, potentially preventing hours of rework and thousands of dollars in chargebacks. Since most modern ERP systems can be accessed from any type of device, you can keep track of EDI metrics from your laptop, tablet, or smartphone while you’re on the road.
Leading data interchange solutions are designed to scale to very high volumes, and can transmit thousands of items each day at peak efficiency. Since it is common for organizations to send orders, reports, and other information to their partners and vendors on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis, full-featured EDI solutions include job scheduling capabilities. This can reduce direct human involvement considerably, which leads to increased efficiency and data accuracy. Users can configure the scheduled transmission once and allow the EDI system to automatically keep partners informed at predefined intervals. Most solutions also include support for batch jobs, which improves user productivity by allowing them to send multiple items to one or more partners at the same time.
Taken as a whole, these benefits make it clear why a comprehensive data interchange solution is a must-have for manufacturing and retail companies that regularly communicate with multiple partners. As you partner network and transaction volume grow, an ERP-integrated digital solution will help your business scale up painlessly.
To learn more about how to leverage your existing technology infrastructure to improve supply chain communication, please contact Visionet Systems for a complimentary consultation session.