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cogI've heard from quite a few of our readers on my article in February around the ROI of trading business transactions electronically. Many of you do have an understanding of the Value that EDI provides to your Supply Chain where others know that doing EDI makes sense but can't or don't have a formal method of knowing what the true ROI is to your organization. One theme that I did hear and was surprise about, is that even those who do have a ROI calculation may not know if they are indeed getting the ROI they have reported to upper management.

Many of the retailers and distributors I work with have shared the successes around getting their trading partners on to an EDI program, however I'm surprised again that they are not monitoring that their trading partner community is continually in compliance with the data flow. Many of the larger EDI shops like JC Penney, Wal-mart, Target etc are indeed monitoring the quality of the EDI data being sent, and reporting issues through the 824 or 864 transactions. But very few these or other retailers/distributors are checking to make sure that the suppliers are actually sending the transactions in the first place. Not that you can't trust the supplier base but I have noticed that there are suppliers that will go through the exercise of setting up an EDI partnership, then intentionally or unintentionally not send data, or discontinue sending the expected transactions.

Are you monitoring your suppliers' dataflow. Or are some of your supplier "pulling the wool over your eyes"? If your company is one that does not have a method of ensuring that you're getting everything you expect from your suppliers, I'd recommend one or some portion of the options below –

  • At the lowest denominator, perhaps you should conduct a periodic review of data that flows through your translator. Look in your EDI translator software by partner to see if they are sending the required EDI transactions. If you have a PO, ASN and Invoice program, at a minimum there should be one of each per PO.
  • Ask your EDI provider to provide a report of transactions by partner so you can determine if there are some partners that are not meeting the data requirements.
  • Meet with your internal business stakeholders, many of them can tell you if any one supplier is not providing data needed. This is one area that truly surprised me. The warehouse, for example, would not share with the EDI dept that they are not getting ASN's from a supplier.
  • Implement a database where minimal data attributes like PO #, Vendor # and perhaps SKU can be loaded, then build out reporting tools.
  • Hire a service provider to report transaction statistics. There are quite a few SaaS providers that can accept EDI data and provide tools that can be used to monitor the data.

For many that have a large number for suppliers set up and minimal resources, you may want to narrow down the suppliers you'll audit if you're going to do so manually (pick your battles).

As indicated at the beginning of this article getting data is one thing but the quality of the data is another. So make sure you also have a mechanism to report and/or notify issues to internal users, or to your trading partners. Your success and ultimately your ROI is only as good as the data you're getting, so let's make sure you know what or if you are getting the data and the quality needed.

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