EDI Integration Guides: Pilot Trading Partner and Community Roll-Out Techniques
EDI integration guides were already discussed in EDI Academy earlier posts, e.g. EDI Cost Analysis, EDI Planning or EDI For Small Business. Today’s post describes EDI integration guides regarding pilot trading partner testing and community roll-out techniques.
One of the best ways to assure success is to test your EDI implementation with a select group of pilot trading partners prior to full implementation according to EDI integration guides. This helps identify any problems, minimize disasters, and assure that everything works perfectly before a widespread rollout.
Pilot trading partners should be used for each additional transaction that a company adds to its system. Also, pilot trading partners should be used if the company is planning on changing its communication method (e.g. converting from VAN to AS2). The pilot trading partners should be sophisticated and experienced enough to handle the EDI integration guides and implementation requirements. They should also be willing to work with you and be flexible enough to help out through the whole process.
Once the pilots have been successfully implemented, the next point of EDI integration guides is to roll-out EDI to the rest of the trading partner community. There are various techniques available to make this process as smooth and as efficient as possible.
If you are a supplier who doesn’t have much leverage with your trading partners, it will be more complicated. You can start off by contacting all your EDI capable customers and telling them you want to implement EDI. For your non-EDI capable customers you can contact them and explain to them all the benefits that EDI has to offer, and perhaps negotiate better margins and payment terms (if it makes business sense).
If you are on the customer side, and if you have leverage with your trading partners, it makes it much easier to roll out new EDI initiatives. The best method of handling this is to establish a relationship with an EDI service provider that caters to small-medium size enterprises. Also, the roll-out initiative should be addressed from a business function manager to the supplier community. For example, if you are rolling out EDI Invoices and Payment / Remittance Advice transactions, a letter form the Vice President of Finance addressed to the trading partner community will be helpful. If you are rolling out EDI Purchase Orders, a letter from the VP of Merchandising addressed to suppliers will help set the tone better than a letter from the EDI Coordinator.