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Switching EDI Providers? Did you Know this?

Do you have your project management covered when migrating from one EDI solution to the other?

Let’s take a scenario where you are migrating from one EDI solution to the other with a managed service. What does this mean? Ideally, a managed service should handle everything from mapping, end-to-end setups, trading partner communication, and continuous monitoring (we will discuss this in detail below). Sometimes, you will find the cost of an EDI solution offered by a managed EDI service is way less when compared to others that offer complete EDI project management services along with software migration.

Let’s talk in detail about everything an EDI project management plan involves during a software migration: Planning, Migration and Maintenance.

  1. Planning

The most important step of the planning phase is to put everything on shared documents with the teams and maintain a repository of all the documents from the existing system as well as the new system that you are migrating to.

It is important to document about all trading partners’ details, their EDI requirements, transaction types, custom codes, planning documents, migration deliverables etc.

  1. Internal EDI evaluation:

This step is considered a part of the planning. There are a variety of EDI solutions available in the marketplace. You have to evaluate your internal structure and resources to understand which solution will work best for your business. Answer questions like what are the gaps in your current solution that you would like filled with the new solution and projected future needs your business requires, what kind of skill set you have in your team, how much responsibility you want to take up, will a fully managed EDI provider work or you are looking for an EDI solution only and want to take care of the entire EDI operations yourself.

  1. Choosing the Right EDI Provider:

Once you have answered the above questions, you will start looking for affordable EDI solutions that will work for your business. Have an open conversation about what they bring to the table and what are your expectations in terms of accountability, customer support, EDI project management (EDI mapping, end-to-end setups, EDI communication, EDI monitoring and query resolution). Do not get carried away by the pricing they give you. Evaluate all options best suited for your business and then decide which one you want to go with.

  1. Define roles and responsibilities for internal and external staff and train them:

Once you have signed a contract with an EDI provider or managed service, lay out scope, project timelines, approach, exception handling strategy, go-live dates, error monitoring support etc., assign roles and responsibilities and train the staff on the new EDI solution.

  1. Phased Approach:

Employ a phased approach to migrating your trading partners to your new EDI solution. Divide the trading partners into cohorts or groups based on the number of transactions and complexity in partnership because any setbacks can be corrected easily with the first few groups. This would help streamline your next upcoming phases. This also creates a seamless operation workflow between you, your trading partners and internal staff who will get enough time to get trained on the new platform. Note that it is important to keep your trading partners informed about the migration so that they are able to share with you their new testing protocols that you have to go through again if need be.

  1. Migration Phase

The Migration phase of an EDI project will encompass, building templates, maps, endpoints, schemas and conduct implementation sprints to create, test and deploy the new EDI solution. One of the important aspects of migration is to establish a test and production schedule and advancement strategy. As a best practice, you should also consider shortening the migration time to automate processes that are repetitive, labor-intensive and time-consuming.

  1. Maintenance Phase

This is the phase where close monitoring is required to make sure there are no hiccups with any of the trading partner connections and integrations. Your EDI provider or consulting company needs to make sure the inbound and outbound documents are flowing correctly and there are no chargebacks. Make sure they respond to new trading partner requirements, track unmet needs, anticipate future requirements and triggering events.

Important take away:

Do not get carried away by lower or higher prices. Evaluate what works best for your internal infrastructure and resources and also how much responsibility you want to carry on your shoulder. It depends on how hands on or off you want to be when it comes to your EDI migration and implementation. Your EDI service provider needs to be transparent on what you are getting for the price you are paying. If they are not, it is a sign that you need to look further. It is important to check all the above boxes by asking questions upfront and then take your decision and sign the contract. You need to fully confident that the EDI provider you choose has a good experience in making your migration process seamless.

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