How to Implement Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

How to Implement Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Use Automation to Improve Speed and Accuracy

Electronic data interchange (EDI) has revolutionized how supply chain partners communicate by automating the exchange of essential order documents. However, implementing EDI is far from a seamless process. And establishing EDI connections between businesses can be particularly challenging. 

What is EDI and How is it Used?

EDI is a standard that makes it possible to move data – in the form of orders, invoices, and advanced shipping notices – seamlessly between different systems. It eliminates the need for manual data format translation and data entry. It eliminates data entry errors and establishes smooth, efficient, and accurate information exchange.

EDI connects every player in your business ecosystem, ensuring everyone is in sync. From the moment an order is placed until final delivery EDI keeps the communication lines clear and the data flowing smoothly. This connectedness means better inventory management, faster order processing, and a supply chain that's agile and responsive to market demands.

With EDI, you're not just speeding up transactions but also slashing costs, reducing errors, and improving relationships with your business partners. Companies that embrace EDI can see dramatic improvements in operational efficiency, with quicker turnaround times and significantly reduced processing costs.


A Typical EDI Implementation Process

At this point EDI is an established standard form of business automation, and there are accepted practices for its implementation:

Assess your needs

Start by identifying your business needs and key transactions to be EDI-enabled. Which documents do you exchange most frequently? Identifying these will help tailor your EDI solution.

Choose your champions

Assemble a team from IT, operations, and any other relevant department with the assignment of steering the EDI implementation smoothly.

Find the right partner

Partner with an EDI provider that aligns with your goals, and don't forget to loop in your IT team early on. Not all EDI providers are created equal. Look for one that offers robust technology and understands your industry's unique challenges.

Wade, don’t dive

Test the waters with a pilot program to iron out any kinks before a full-scale rollout. Pick a segment of your operations that can provide quick, insightful feedback.

Train your people

Your EDI system is only as good as the people using it. Invest in comprehensive training for your team to ensure they’re comfortable and confident.

Go live

With testing complete and your team ready, it's time to launch. Monitor closely, be ready to tweak, and celebrate the wins, no matter how small.


What makes EDI onboarding so difficult?

EDI established a standard electronic format for trading partners’ business documents. It has substantially accelerated the speed of doing business, reduced the cost of partner communication, and slashed content and transaction errors.

Unfortunately, setting up an EDI-based trading partnership is not a paint-by-numbers process, which makes EDI onboarding a time-consuming and expensive chore for most organizations. Since it’s not unusual for an enterprise to bring on 100 – 500 new vendors each year, that costly and time-consuming chore represents a significant business impediment.

EDI onboarding often involves multiple parties, including retailers, manufacturers, wholesale distributors, vendors, EDI software providers, and others. It’s common for all these players to use disparate and inconsistent terminology. Different business practices and requirements typically frustrate EDI mapping efforts when two businesses come together. Partners may have different or even conflicting security or privacy constraints. Onboarding success can be tricky to measure.

What do EDI challenges cost your business?

Many of the benefits of EDI are delayed or lost if you struggle to accommodate your potential trading partner’s quirks and requirements right from the beginning. An inefficient onboarding process takes precious time away from more high-value activities and increases time and labor costs.

These costs can be disastrous for retailers that frequently bring on new partners. If you botch the onboarding process with a partner, the downstream consequences are errors, delays, costly manual interventions, lost revenue, incomplete or inaccurate supply chain visibility, and damaged partner relationships.

Rivet Automates EDI Onboarding

Rivet is a business process automation solution that combines technology and professional services to automate previously manual and ad hoc business processes. It is a single platform that replaces email, spreadsheets, task management software, and the other technologies and manual processes you and your EDI partners use today.

  • Rivet gives you a made-to-measure automated solution to your EDI partner challenges by standardizing the configuration, testing, validation, and approval procedures required to connect to a partner via EDI:
  • Automatic Data Collection. Rivet automatically collects partner data required for onboarding, removing the need for time-consuming manual effort. 
  • Pre-Built Workflows.  With hundreds of blueprints and endless customizations, Rivet drives your onboarding plan from partner data gathering through provisioning and testing, including deadline tracking and follow-up. 
  • Automated Alerts. Rivet automatically alerts appropriate personnel of erroneous, incomplete, or late tasks and features customizable dashboards that give you visibility into the status of processes, risk exposure, and the need for action.   
  • Intelligent Resourcing.  Rivet has deep industry expertise built right in. When the process could be better, Rivet presents you and your vendors with industry-specific tasks, data, supporting documentation, follow-up actions, and alerts to improve productivity.

The result is a machine-driven experience supporting the online completion, tracking, and verification of all onboarding documents, signatures, and approvals. Rivet increases process efficiency, which leaves you time to focus on higher-value activities. Its dashboards offer real-time status updates on EDI, and much more. 

Why Automate EDI Onboarding with Rivet?

Rivet delivers significant labor savings through automation, typically two or more FTEs. It also dramatically reduces costly and time-consuming data errors. Eliminating mistakes and delays in the onboarding process results in shorter time-to-revenue. Smooth EDI onboarding builds strong partner relationships and helps to define your brand.  

Ready to learn more about quickly gaining the full benefits of EDI? Let’s talk. Rivet reflects the Traverse Systems team’s combined 200 years of supply chain experience. If you’ve got a problem, there’s a good chance we’ve seen it - and have solved it - before.

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