Are you looking to implement EDI software in your business? Are you feeling a bit lost?
There are a number of different types of EDI software and it is important that you choose one that matches up with the specific needs of your business. You need to get acquainted with the available features of EDI software so that you can work out exactly how it can boost your business’ performance.
So, before you check the references and reviews of specific products, read this guide on the top seven things you need to consider before choosing a particular software.
1. Data Transaction Volume
EDI (or Electronic Data Interchange) software is all about moving files and other data objects quickly between different computers. But there is a large range of data volume that may wish to move.
Working out your transaction volume is important because you need to ensure that a) your software is strong enough to cope with the volume and b) that you don’t buy (more expensive) software that is over and above what you need.
Do an honest examination of your current and projected data transfer needs. Scalability is essential.
2. In-House or Managed Services EDI
The next big thing you need to consider is whether you will be managing your EDI transfers yourself or whether you will be outsourcing it to a dedicated service provider.
While you may think your company is small enough to manage its own EDI, this may not always be sound logic. In the first place, there is a cost in training or finding someone with the necessary IT skills to do your EDI transfers.
A further point to consider is that, if you only have one or two EDI specialists in your business, you become dependent upon them. This is an issue if that person decides to leave the company or needs to take time off.
3. Integration Opportunity
EDI software integration can be done in a number of different ways. You may wish to only do an ad hoc integration with limited synthesis between the software and your actual operations.
On the other hand, you can integrate your EDI software into your workflow itself. One advantage of this is that it can provide opportunities for you to streamline your processes, enhancing data exchange from the start to the end of your workflow.
EDI software is often viewed as something to fix an issue. But many people forget that it can actually be used as a development opportunity. Proper integration will improve efficiency and overall performance.
4. Support Services
You should also be looking at the team behind the software itself to make sure it is going to continue to meet your needs. In particular, you need to be sure that the EDI software you choose will be able to support all of the standards and formats that you will require.
The primary standards are supplied by ANSI X12, Tradacoms, and EDIFACT. However, you may also require other formats in order to better serve your clients and customers. For example, it is common for data to be exported in forms like XML, CSV, or JSON.
Bear in mind, too, that you may gain new clients whose systems are different from your current clients. Once again, choosing EDI software shouldn’t be about finding a quick fix. Rather, it should be about choosing a product that is going to help your business grow over time.
Scalability is important, particularly if you are going to be integrating your EDI software directly into your workflow. The software not only needs to match your current data transfer demands but also your projected transfer demands.
If you integrate your software into your actual processes and then the software reaches its limit, it is going to put any expansion on hold. Worse, it may disrupt the expectations of your customers and clients, which could send your business backwards.
6. Feature Compatibility
Not all companies are the same and each needs EDI software that meets specific demands. For example, you may be looking to improve your supply chain management, or you may be looking to improve the transfer of client data in a service industry.
Either way, you need to make sure that the software you choose is fit to purpose. Look at the specific ways you want to improve your supply chain or services management and map those onto the offered features of the product you are considering.
Also, remember that the perceived value of features you won’t use is only imaginary.
7. Implementation Time and Cost
Now that you’ve worked out exactly how to choose features that work for your business, you need to see which EDI software will quickly and cost-effectively integrate with your work.
This is not so straightforward as choosing a cheap and fast option. Some software options will be faster or cheaper to install because their integration is much more superficial, or because their features are limited.
You need a fast turnaround on your investment, but make sure you take the time to integrate properly.
You need to strike the same balance with the cost. Don’t go for the cheaper option just to save a few pounds.
EDI software is not just a necessary cost. It’s an investment opportunity.
EDI Software Should Be Unique to Your Business
There are so many benefits of EDI software, but you will only ever get value out of them if they are relevant to your business model. Get down into the nuts and bolts of your business and your prospective EDI software and see exactly how the two will work together.
To guide you in this examination, you should ask yourself not how EDI software can fix a problem, but rather how EDI software can improve your business performance overall. Once you’ve answered that question, you’ll be ready to make an informed choice.
So, what are you waiting for? Increase your business’ efficiency and performance today!
If you have any questions about how EDI software will work for your particular business, don’t hesitate to get in touch.