Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Time for a Yearly Checkup

checkupOnly a couple weeks ago,  as I was looking at my calendar to schedule yet another meeting I realized that it was December! While I have looked at that same calendar a thousand times throughout the year, it never really sank in until that moment how fast 2012 has gone. Being heads down in project after project at work, while balancing getting the kids to every soccer practice and dance lesson on time at home, it becomes very easy to fall into a day to day routine of simply getting the next task done.

 

The danger in staying in this routine is that we can quickly become stagnant in both the personal and professional realms, and becoming stagnant in any situation will eventually lead to obsolescence. A professional mentor once told me “If you’re not moving forward, you are moving backward”, which I have learned through my own experience to be very true. It is for this reason that I take this time of year to take a subjective look at both personal and professional realities to truly evaluate where I am and what needs to be done in order to get where I want to go.

By way of a “eureka” moment several years after I started this practice, I realized the same strategy could and should be used to drive goals for the EDI department as well.  It is very easy to get stuck in the routine of thinking of EDI as consisting of 4010 850, 855, 856, and 810 documents,  so stepping back from your current operations now and again could give you a fresh perspective. In this evaluation nothing is off limits, including growth potential and expertise of personnel, hardware, software, program delivery (i.e. in house or outsourced), and even as a manager your goals and strategy.

First, I always start at what we are doing well and what progress we have made for the year as far as driving efficiencies in the business.  Identifying current strengths by committing them to a document allows you transfer them from and make them a bit more concrete, allowing you to leverage those strengths in future growth. Along with strengths, where are our weakness? An honest, subjective look can produce, mountains of opportunities that get looked over in the hustle and bustle of daily operations.

Second, I like to evaluate the current transactions that we are supporting. Talk to the other department heads in the building and educate them on enhancements other documents can bring to the table. For example, do you run a B2C website? Maybe requiring an 846 inventory document from your vendors may help manage stock outs. Are the folks in product planning having a difficult time meeting demand due to incomplete forecast data? Maybe a good solution would be to bring on the 830 planning document for ordering, or 852 for point of sale data.

Lastly, identify the gaps. For instance if you are in production with a trading partner on the 850 PO, but they only send 40% via EDI and the others are faxed, then it is time to have a conversation to find out why this is occurring. They may have branches that don’t know they can send EDI, or there may be issues in processing that they haven’t communicated to you, but rather just found a work around. Another example is to make sure that the organization has the technical infrastructure to support the customer base. Adding XML or AS2 communications to the tool belt may go a long way in the marketplace.

Growth, be it personal or professional is never simple and easy. Periodically conducting a sanity check on yourself can prove to be invaluable in meeting your goals. Just as it wouldn’t be advisable to drive across country without glancing at the GPS now and again, not doing these self checks could route you to a direction you didn’t want to go.

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