Choosing the right EDI System for your business
EDI Systems can be an integral part of your business operation. Making sure you choose the right one can make all the difference.
When your business is looking for an EDI System there are some important factors to consider. There’s a lot of information out there so let’s simplify this and highlight the main considerations you need to focus on to help you decide.
Is the company UK-based?
Does the company have a local, UK presence or is it based elsewhere? This can sometimes make a difference to the kind of service you will receive.
Does the company have a good public image?
What does the public face of the company look like? Does the website look engaging and reflect a culture focused on strong customer service? Are there any reviews? Have you heard anything positive or otherwise?
Is the EDI System cloud-based or traditional?
Not all EDI systems are made equal. When it comes to EDI, some companies are still providing a traditional, out-dated service which involves installing software on a specific computer. If your business opts for a Cloud-based solution, the software can be accessed from any computer connected to the internet, making it much easier to implement and available to multiple users at once. And storing your data in the cloud is usually a lot more secure than storing it on physical devices that can be lost, stolen or damaged.
What is included in the Service?
As well as providing the core EDI System, what else is included in the overall Service offering?
- Do you get a dedicated project manager to co-ordinate everything for you?
- Do they contact your trading partners to co-ordinate connections and testing?
- Is training on the system provided?
- Will they provide go-live support?
Many providers offer a ‘Managed Service’ but be sure to check the points above to see if they’re all covered.
Is the pricing transparent?
This is very important. Look closely to see how the price is broken down. Does anything appear to be ambiguous or hidden? What are you actually getting for your money? Always make sure you check the finer print.
These are some of the common things to look out for:
• Are there additional costs for more than one user licence?
• How many documents/transactions are you allowed to transact – is there a monthly limit?
• Is support fully included?
• Are there any EDI system re-installation fees?
• Are there any new trading partner development costs?
• Are there separate data transactional contract fees on top of the original agreement?
Does the EDI system fully integrate with your ERP/back-office systems?
Some providers may advertise that their EDI System does integration but on closer inspection you may find that they can’t truly connect to your in-house system? Ask them to find out. Will your transactional EDI data simply be converted to a different file format and then presented to your ERP? Or is it delivered directly into the heart of your ERP system without any intervention? This can be achieved by using APIs. APIs allow programs to communicate with each other in real-time – part of the ERPs application is left open so that other applications can safely and securely access data. Done this way, EDI document exchange becomes faster and more accurate.
Is the EDI System fully monitored and managed by a team of EDI experts?
The whole point of EDI is that it reduces unnecessary work and increases the time you get to spend on the money-making areas of your business. Ideally, you choose a service that, as well as offering a great EDI System, will also provide a fantastic customer support. This should include a team that manages your system and any needs you may have.
What sort of businesses is the EDI company already serving?
Would some of their existing clients speak to a prospective client as an endorsement?
Look on the company’s website to make sure they have a good track record, have a look to see who their customers are and if they have any case studies from reputable brands or businesses? Would you be able to speak to one of their current clients for an opinion?
What support levels are available?
Determine what the base-level Support Service is and if there are options available to upgrade to extra-hours or 24/7 support if necessary.
Is the service secure?
To make sure your transactions and operational processes are safe, have a look to see if the company’s systems have any relevant security certifications. Check to see where the data is hosted and what sort of standards are adhered to.
How an EDI System can benefit your business
One of the biggest advantages of using an EDI System is the speed of communication. Given how easily information can now be sent and received digitally, it’s surprising how many businesses are still using paper-based forms of exchange.
Using an EDI System enables the exchange of documents between businesses in a standardised format. This leads to a reduction in errors, increased efficiency and better relationships with business partners. All these factors combine to ensure a significant cost saving for your business, hence why choosing the right EDI System is an important decision.
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