Simply filling orders is not enough to ensure retailers their customers are pleased with the products and services they receive from a company. In addition to fulfilling customer demands, retailers need to be concerned with the timeliness and accuracy of the orders they fill. Sales lost due to the shipment of incorrect or damaged products or even delayed delivery can lead to red ink coloring a bottom line. Certainly, that’s not an ideal situation.
In reviewing the business elements of a company that interfaces with EDI, I am certain the most difficult to understand is the “Supply Chain”. The most common mistake is thinking that “Supply Chain Management” (SCM) is just another name for “Logistics”.
In every EDI application, knowledge of the business needs and functions is of paramount importance. If you don't understand a "purchase order" or a "load tender" or a "health care claim or encounter" you'll never be able to map the ANSI or EDIFACT EDI data format for these transactions. In my experience, logistics is the toughest because of the many, many unrelated (by ownership) parties who need to be in the loop.
Businesses must put more effort into pre-planning for business interruption according to a survey by Zurich Insurance and the Business Continuity Institute (BCI). They are concerned about supply chain disruption and term it a "blind spot". We are concerned too. Zurich recommends mapping out your supply chain and quantifying each supplier by financial stability, geopolitical issues, et al. If you have a lot of global suppliers, this could be a tall order. I think Zurich is sitting in an "ivory tower" and not a "SCM Control Tower".
Logistics companies are generally highly distributed. It’s the nature of the business to be in multiple locations, even if some of those locations are mobile or even not directly part of the company. UTi Worldwide is an example of a company that has found a way to expand to 230 locations and still manage its business.