Finding process efficiency in business is no longer on the wish list, but a mandatory responsibility of management. Even with the great gains that we as an EDI department give to the organization, the mandate to find more cost effective methods in operations has not passed us by. This in turn has lead many EDI teams to utilize third parties to handle some portions of their daily function. In my previous post, I began to discuss outsourcing the mapping function of EDI, and will wrap up with seven strategies that I have found to be useful when managing a third party mapping team.
1. Do not categorize changes as hard or easy. While the change may have been an easy fix in a prior environment, not fully understanding what the change entails on the other end is a sure way to fall below expectations. My advice would be to generate thorough SLA’s so proper expectations can be set.
2. Make sure there is a standardized process for requesting map development. By working with the third party to develop a mutually agreed framework will ensure there are little to no variations in the request, which will result in clear requests.
3. Never make assumptions on business rules or needed logic. Although a business rule may be obvious to you, remember that the mapper will not have this knowledge. When submitting a request on your standard form as described above, make sure you specify everything. Leave no stone unturned or possibility unexplored.
4. Develop an escalation process. Make sure that there is a pre-determined escalation path for emergency changes and share with all involved.
5. Since most of the communication will initiate via email, it is important to be able to get someone on the phone so a discussion can occur if communication via email is proving to be unproductive.
6. Communicate clear, realistic time frame expectations from the SLA to your trading partner. Over committing to project delivery dates is a sure recipe for damaged business relationships.
7. Create processes to monitor your third party mapping team’s performance and hold them to the SLA.
SaaS and Cloud solutions have benefits in cost, system maintenance, and server uptimes, but also require the ability to have a clear and open communication pipeline when it comes to creating or modifying data translation maps. Ignoring this will most assuredly result in projects missing timelines, coming in over budget, and generally causing everyone involved many sleepless nights of frustration. The bottom line is planning and communication are critical in realizing the ROI a third party team can provide.