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Role of Managed EDI Services in Exchanging Business Transactions

Managed EDI services companies are third-party EDI services companies that have built their own cloud-based EDI software and are offering them to companies like yours (manufacturing, retail/food, fashion, logistics, automotive and financial institutions) at a price. They handle some of the responsibilities like providing their software, managing map updates, communication with your trading partners, support etc. Your company will still be involved in the EDI implementation and managing them.

As you start supplying to big box companies or other stores, you will be asked to comply with their EDI requirements. These EDI requirements are based on the universal EDI standards that have been created to maintain uniformity in electronic business transactions across the world. No matter wherever you are in the world you should be able to trade with any company as long as they are ready to accept your product and you can comply with their requirements. This is where the role of managed EDI services come in. These companies came into existence because there was a need of EDI expertise in the market. Not every small to medium sized business will have EDI expertise in-house. Therefore, these managed EDI services found a need to provide a platform and EDI expertise to businesses who needed them. With the advent of cloud technologies, there was a market for EDI also to make a shift from on premise solutions to cloud. Managed EDI services fit perfectly in that mold.

As you have a trading partner in place for your business, they will ask you to be in EDI compliance with their requirements. This is the time when usually companies will start shopping around for managed EDI services to help them with EDI setup, communication and implementation. However, keep in mind not every managed EDI service will fit your mold of becoming the right partner.

Below are the questions you should ask to make sure you are choosing the right EDI partner for your EDI needs:

Questions to Ask Managed EDI Services When Shopping or Evaluating for One

  1. Could you give us the demo of your EDI platform and walk us through your EDI setup and implementation process for a Trading Partner X?
  1. How long does it take to get your clients on your internal project schedule for EDI Onboarding?
  1. Who handles the new Trading Partner testing?
  1. Does the Testing include integration with my ERP when I have one?
  1. Is there an added charge for Integration with my ERP?
  1. How long does it typically take to go from testing to live with a trading partner?
  1. How long does it take for a map to be corrected once we are live?
  1. Do you host the EDI platform or is it on AWS or Azure?
  1. Do I need EDI knowledge on staff?
  1. Can I make EDI Map changes or does the provider only one that can do that?
  1. What is the customer service SLAs (Service Level Agreements)?
  1. Does Customer service work from emails and live phone calls?
  2. Issue response times
  3. Issue Resolution times
  4. Escalation of Support Case Guideline
  5. Platform Up Time. Any guarantee on Up Time?
  6. Support Hours and Time Zone
  7. Do you use a Generic Email Address for Support or do you assign one specific to my company?
  8. Does support have a direct phone number?
  9. How many people on your support team
  10. Do you use a ticketing system and generic email responses?
  1. Costs
  1. One-Time Fee Break down to get on EDI Platform
  2. One-Time Fee to Add Trading Partner to account
  3. Is Testing and Implementation included
  4. Monthly Fee break down
  5. Per Document Fee and how many are included in my plan
  6. Are there any extra costs?
  1. Please indicate what is not included in costs?
  1. Integration when an ERP/WMS/TMS
  2. Daily Error Tracking
  3. Phone calls and Meetings with prospective EDI Trading Partners
  1. How do you get notified of Unacknowledged EDI documents, Communication Failures, Rejected/Errored 997s, 824 Issues, 864s received?
  1. When does my contract renew?
  1. Does my contract extend every time I add a new Trading partner or make any changes to my subscription?
  1. Who pays for chargebacks if the issue is EDI platform or EDI mapping related?
  1. Ask for references of their clients to talk to that have similar or same trading partners that they are working with.

Managed EDI service companies usually develop and maintain their own software and therefore, it is easier for businesses to outsource their EDI software and operations to these companies. However, it is important to keep in mind that not all managed EDI services are created equal with broad capabilities, can handle large volumes of data and transactions and provide ERP integration capabilities.

Ideally, managed EDI services should take care of all your EDI operations from setting up the software, training, trading partner communication, proactive daily monitoring to avoid any errors and chargebacks but not all of them have been seen to provide fully managed services which actually means platform plus service.

EDI Support’s Recommendation:

Ask the right questions mentioned above to determine which company is the right partner for you instead of relying on the references provided by external consultants or your trading partners when shopping around for managed EDI services. You should know the pros and cons of working with every managed EDI service before you make a decision to work with one. Do not depend only on certain factors such as pricing and the services they say they are providing. Do an internal scout of what you need (EDI expertise, resources, software) first and then determine the right EDI partner based on overall information you are given.

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Educate yourself and follow these steps to stay within your EDI budget and still trade with your trading partners effectively.
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