EDI implementation from Initiation to Go-Live

For those considering (or already started) implementing EDI here are some friendly advices.

"EDI is not something you (should) do overnight"

"Your Business should adapt to e-Business"

Your B2B or ERP solution provider will say "we will relieve you from all concerns"

Read one of my other posts (in Dutch) about this relieve "Wij nemen u alle technische en functionele uitdagingen ( lees: problemen) uit handen en zorgen dat het goed komt"

The approach that works and embeds EDI into daily business practice

In a typical Order-to-Cash (O2C) process there are 4 business documents exchanged:
- Purchase Order
- Purchase Order Acknowledgement
- Advanced Ship Notice
- Invoice

Additionally master data can be exchanged / synchronized between trading partners on a regular basis containing:
- Product information
- Price data
- Product characteristics e.g. weights
- Address locations

[Want to know more about master data, read "Supply Chain collaboration - the battle for data".]

The best scenario for implementing EDI business documents with partners consists of a phased-based approach. The overall goal of this approach is to realize a complete and smooth exchange of all agreed business documents and data.

During each phase in the implementation scenario one business document is fully implemented. The implementation phases will overlap to ensure a continuous implementation process.

Phase 0: contains master data alignment
• product information (GTIN – UPC)
• geographic locations (GLN – UPC)
• price data
• product characteristics

Phase 1: implementation of order & order response

Phase 2: contains implementation of shipping notification

Phase 3: contains implementation of invoice

Requirements analysis & agreement phase

Before starting the implementation phases there is a requirements analysis and agreements phase during which following activities are performed:

Collaboratively:
1. Gather and analyze the EDI requirements (documents, data and process steps)
2. Agree upon the business documents, the data exchanged and alignment of process steps
3. Agree upon the communication protocol used
4. Agree upon the implementation scenario

Internally:
5. Estimate the impact on a technical level (registration and processing of data)
6. Estimate the impact on a business level (working instructions for order entry, invoicing and shipment)

The joint deliverables of this phase are:
- EDI Trading Partner Data Sheet
- EDI Message Specifications
- Agreed communication protocol
- Agreed list of business documents, data exchanged and process steps
- Agreed implementation scenario

The internal deliverables of this phase are:
- Technical impact: overview of issues and resolutions
- Business impact: enhanced working instructions

Implementation phases

For each agreed business document the implementation will go through 3 stages:
- Setup & test
- Parallel processing
- Consolidate

To be successful the implementation of EDI need to be managed on a day-to-day basis and requires availability of several specialists: EDI Message expert, ERP integration and process experts and B2B Service Provider.

Setup & Test Stage

Technical activities:
- Setup the connection with the EDI environment of the customer
- Implement transformation mappings at B2B Service Provider
- Test the connectivity with EDI environment of the customer
- Verify the syntax and semantics of the EDI message(s) exchanged

Business activities:
- Validate the document created in ERP and check the working instructions
- Agree upon procedures for handling and monitoring the exchange of the business document

Deliverable(s):
- B2B message mapping delivery
- EDI connection both test and production
- Agreed upon internal working instructions and external procedures

Parallel stage

During the parallel phase both business partners will check the completeness and correctness of the EDI-message for a period of 1 month.

EDI documents are leading during this phase. Non-EDI documents are exchanged until both business partners are completely satisfied that the EDI system is performing well.

Consolidate Stage

During the consolidate stage it is important to gather all issues reported and measures taken and come to an agreement with the customer about the way forward.

Organize a User Acceptance Meeting (UAM) with representatives of the customer and the internal organization. During this meeting finalize the list of issues reported and decide whether or not / when the message can go into operation. After the GO/NO Go decision start with the setup of the operational environment (master data, EDI connectivity, working instructions, …)

As a last step before going live inform the organization formally when the EDI message will be taken into operation and what is expected of all people involved.

Deliverables are:
- User Acceptance Document
- Updated issue and resolution list
- Working EDI and ERP environment
- Adapted working instructions

Operation phase

Activities to be performed are:
- Monitor communications to ensure EDI documents continue to flow
- Respond to inquiries from business partners as issues arise
- Report on business partner activity
- Make updates to translation maps and/or communication protocols as new documents are added

Deliverables are:
- Updated issue- and priority list
- Performance overview report
Number of messages received / sent
Number of issues reported and solved
Number of changes requested and performed

My focus areas are business processes, business information systems (ERP, CRM, BPM, ...) and integration of business processes and systems over the boundaries of companies AND not to forget Open Source business applications.

If you have an opinion about the implementation or use of EDI then do not hesitate to react. If you agree with the fundamentals then share it with others.

Tags: e-Business, e-Invoicing, e-Procurement, e-Commerce, EDI

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