EDI Scheduling: Common Scheduling Pitfalls/Solutions
EDI Scheduling plays a major role in EDI implementations, unless an organization is starting jobs using an adhoc method. Very frequently a lot of EDI jobs error out in their first few weeks of production because enough thought does not go into the scheduling process.
The consequences of the following pitfalls are hours wasted for un-necessary troubleshooting and most importantly the cost of business-to-business transaction delay. Also, in the retail EDI industry this could be a major root cause of chargebacks that end up costing thousands of dollars to due to a scheduling oversight that could have been prevented.
- Cut-off times – are not taken into consideration. For example, banks have specific cut-off times by the time an EDI transaction should be received. If not received by the cut-off time, the bank may keep the transaction in the queue for as much as 24 hours. The cut-off times should be agreed upon in each trading-partner relationship.
- Time zones – Sometimes when trading partners agree on a certain job schedule, they make a careless mistake of not taking the time zone into consideration. For example, an 820 Remittance Advice/Payment Order transaction set must arrive by 2:00 PM eastern time in order for the payment order to process. Also, this is sometimes missed in operational manuals and run-books. Time-zones should be clearly agreed upon with trading partners before going into production.
- Weekends/Holidays – Most companies do their server and networking equipment maintenance on weekends. Since the EDI infrastructure is very much dependent on the network and server being up, jobs will fail if the FTP server or AS2 is down because of network/server maintenance downtime.
- Dependency jobs – Usually B2B Transactions are dependent on some internal application job completing first. For example, a retailer must complete its replenishment job before Purchase Orders can be transmitted to the suppliers. Some organizations make the mistake of not creating an actual dependency on these job completions and instead chose to schedule the EDI job several hours out after the estimated completion time.
- File Arrival/Time-Stamp Dependency – Very frequently jobs simply die because there is no file available for processing. Files are a powerful way to serve as a dependency for a job or a job-step to start/continue. For example, an outbound EDI translation job should not kick-off until the application file is in the directory and ready for processing. In addition to a file actually being available, it is a good idea to put a check in to place to make sure that the file has not been modified for more than a certain time period like 1 minute.
- File Clean-Up to Prevent Duplicates – This is an oversight that happens too often. A script is written, a job is put into production, but archiving or renaming the file after processing has been completed is overlooked. The next time the job runs it picks up that same file and transmits over and the trading partner receives duplicate transactions. Hopefully the trading partner has duplicate-check processing in place.
- Lack of deadlines – Some schedulers often have a deadline feature. For example, if a job starts and does not complete in an X amount of time then alert should be transmitted or the job should exit. A deadline should be set for all jobs in the scheduler if possible.
- Year-End-Processing – Accounting usually asks for a freeze period for incoming and outgoing transactions for year-end processing. Careful planning for suspending jobs and reaching out to trading partners to give them heads up can prevent a lot of unnecessary troubleshooting.
Lack of end-to-end testing in the scheduler – Very often scheduling issues come up during the first production run. Usually EDI transaction testing occurs in an adhoc method and the scheduler is only turned on for production. One of the last milestones during testing should be turning on the scheduler and letting the process run end-to-end using an automated scheduled method vs adhoc.
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