Supply Chain VisibilityGetting started with EDI may not seem to be the easiest venture a business could undertake. But regardless of the level of difficulty, it’s a necessity for a growing number of trading partners who want to transact business together. Take these steps to ease the ongoing efforts necessary to use EDI and to turn it into a performance enhancement for your operations.

Include your trading partners
Once your EDI operations are functioning consistently there’s little reason to do business with your trading partners in any other way than electronically. Make certain your VAN connection is available to all your partners and provide information they need in order to get on board with your business. While it may not be reasonable to connect electronically with 100% of your partners, getting as close to full participation can lower your error rates and lighten the load from manual processing. Contact your VAN to help with the recruiting and onboarding process.

Integrate your operations
Your operations depend on the software you use to process orders and manage inventory. Product cycles continue to become shorter and links between finances and order delivery are critical to having a synchronized and accurate process. Making manual or even batch oriented updates between your EDI and ERP systems slows your ability to act and react in a timely manner to changing conditions within your supply chain.

Connect the data you receive from your EDI VAN directly to your ERP by integrating the two systems. Process integration is essential to achieving supply chain visibility, and increased visibility allows for efficient management of orders and products. What’s more, visibility allows for proactive management of problems before they impact operations.

Expand your documents
There are many more documents available for supply chain management beyond the purchase order and functional acknowledgment. Each document type and version was created to address specific circumstances and needs. Consult with your VAN representative to determine what documents you can add to your repertoire that will enhance your ability to communicate efficiently with your trading partners. In some cases the added EDI transactions are simple and require little effort to implement. However other documents may be more complex and require more configuration to match your specific needs. If you don’t have a substantial in-house EDI team your VAN provider can help you determine which transaction types can help best and how they need to be configured.

Make the most of the efforts you’ve already expended and move to the next level of supply chain visibility and control.
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