long roadEDI solutions have become abundant in the past several years as EDI has secured its position more as a needed functionality within organizations.  This is not just for large organizations either.  It is trending in the SMB world, as well.

One large decision one must make is to determine whether to keep the EDI solution in-house or to outsource the technology.  In today's economy, outsourcing can be more cost-effective.  It can save the organization expense, especially in the people and systems resource areas.  It can speed the overall process execution.   It can bring additional product expertise and knowledge.  Financial consideration is a important component of the EDI decision, but not the only component for consideration.

If thinking about an outsource model you have to be prepared to ask and answer hard questions.  How does outsourcing (aka utilizing a third party) really fit in within your organization?  What are your expectations?  Have you really thought this through?  "Are we there yet?"

After observing organizations who have had varying degrees of success and failure, this decision is just as important as the financial decision.  If your organization has not thought deeply enough - well, that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow may actually be filled with pyrite.  So an important question should be asked. Is this outsourcing creating an extension of your organization or just a "third party" environment?

To think about this in the detail warranted, how much potential risk are you placing in the third party's control that can negatively impact your processes and relationships?  This may be viewed as pessimistic, but it is reality and best to address proactively....leave no stone unturned!  If you think about it, outsourcing data for your organization's internal use is a world away from outsourcing efforts that affect your operations, customer and supplier processes.  And if you have the outsourced company in a situation to speak to your external business partners, do they represent your organization's interest in a manner your colleagues would interact with those same business partners?  Lastly, if they are feeding data back in to your system, what security do you have in place the data will always be correct, securely delivered, and without any bugs?

Are we there yet?  No, not quite yet.  We still have some roads left to travel.....hills, bumps, and occasional stops to refill.  But it will be worth the journey......
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