As I went to my barn to gather the tools needed for the landscaping project, a flash of inspiration came to me in the form of a question. “Why use the bucket to move the dirt I wanted, when I have a wheel barrow?” . It may seem a bit elementary, but my second thought was” How does this apply to business and supply chain optimization?” While one tool may get the job done, it may not be the best tool for the job.
Within the EDI transaction sets, I refer to the standard 850, 810, 855, and 856 as the “Core Four” because invariably these are the transactions used to start an EDI program, and are the likely setups when beginning an EDI relationship. In the majority of the relationships, these sets will also suffice as the relationship between vendor and customer moves more toward a mutual partnership, drop shipping directly from manufacturer to end user may prove the most efficient means of getting goods from point A to point B. In this case, will the typical 855 scenario be enough to support the order? What happens if there is a change in order or item status after the order is received? Since the end user likely purchased the product from the customer side of the relationship and not directly from the manufacturer, how does the customer obtain and relay status information to their customer or end user?
The best solution to those questions that I have seen in practice is implementing the 870 (Order Status Report) into your EDI tool belt. In practice, the 870 will allow communication at every stage of the order fulfillment process, and can be sent as often as needed to update the customer so if the end user makes an inquiry, accurate information can be shared. Where a typical 855 relays information that the order was received and will ship on time, the 870 allows the manufacturer to enhance that information stream by not only acknowledging receipt, but informing when the order is being picked at the warehouse, when the order has shipped, and if there are any changes to line item details at any point of the order fulfillment process. Bottom line is that adding the 870 transaction set only enhances the supply chain capabilities to your customers and vendors, which in turn will set your company apart from competition in the global market.