EDI Service Bureau as an outsourcing method
1. EDI translation and mapping. Trading partners will only deal with you in EDI format. When files are inbound to your company, the Service Bureau translates and maps the EDI data into a format that your business application understands. When files are outbound from your company, the Service Bureau maps and translates the data from your business application into the EDI format that trading partners will accept.
2. Any-to-any format conversion. While EDI is the primary data format used in tradingrelationships, the Service Bureau can convert any format into any other format. Trading partners send data in EDI format, and the EDI Service Bureau will convert it to a format of your choice. Once you enlist a Service Bureau, you can use it for both EDI and non-EDI activity alike. If you accept orders from a web storefront, for example, the Service Bureau will convert the XML transaction produced by the web storefront into a format that your business application will accept.
3. Any data transport method. There are a number of different protocols available (such as FTP/S, HTTP/S, AS2, etc.) to transport files to and from your trading partners. When dealing with trading partners, the Service Bureau will use the protocol designated by the trading partner. When dealing with your company, the service provider will use a mutually-agreed-upon protocol.
4. Value Added Network (VAN). Many trading partners use a third party VAN to store files waiting to be picked up by the EDI Service Bureau on your behalf. Some Service Bureaus operate their own VAN, and will interconnect with your trading partners’ VANs. In either case, the Service Bureau will be able to transport files with all your trading partners, using the preferred VAN.
5. Integration. The service provider will facilitate integration with your business application by mapping, formatting and transporting files using a method of your choice. The responsibility for actually integrating the data with your business application can remain with your company, or it can be passed on to the service provider.
What will a Service Bureau do for you?
1. Manage your trading relationships. The Service Bureau will manage all aspects of data exchange with your trading partners. This includes setting up new trading partners, mapping and integrating new documents, changing maps, co-ordinating trading partners, testing, daily monitoring and troubleshooting problems.
2. Allow you to do business in the same manner as you do today. Two of the reasons for outsourcing EDI Service Bureau are to pass complexities on to the service provider, and to allow you to focus on core business activities. The disruptions to your business caused by EDI should be minimal, and allow you to do business in the same manner as you do today.
3. Scale to your volume of activity. The EDI Service Bureau will be able to scale to your volume of trading partner activity by offering variations such as File Transfer, Fax-to-EDI, and Web Forms.
4. Operate a technical infrastructure. You don’t have to worry about any aspect of the technology as the Service Bureau will acquire and maintain a hardware and software infrastructure to meet the needs of all their customers.
What is the value in using a Service Bureau?
1. Pay only for what you use. An EDI Service Bureau offers a subscription-based service where you pay based on transaction volume. Many will offer volume discounts as activity increases. Others will offer special pricing plans for seasonal customers or one-time use of their service.
2. No additional staff required. When using an EDI Service Bureau, there is no need to hire any additional staff to manage trading relationships. The result is significant savings compared to operating an in-house EDI system.
3. EDI becomes a positive experience. With a service provider acting on your behalf, EDI becomes less complex and frustrating. This creates a more positive environment and gives you more control over your EDI initiatives.