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IT Operations/Support/Help Desk Challenges with EDI:

centralizeditCentralizing corporate IT departments into a centralized help-desk and operations support has been standard-operating-procedure for over the last decade. ITIL best practices and IT Controls and regulations such as SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley) have put this on an aggressive fast track.

The following is an extract from the EDI Fundamentals & Best Practices training course offered by The EDI Academy ( This small extract is just one element of the whole course and should not be considered as an EDI tutorial.
Operations Support/Help Desk are a centralized hub to troubleshoot or route incoming requests from functional areas. For example, accounts receivable (A/R) clerk may be having trouble with the accounting software during data entry. The A/R clerk will pick up the phone and call the IT Support line. Level one support may help the A/R clerk directly and if that does not work will route to level two support or level three which may be for example COBOL developer, PeopleSoft analyst or the SAP developer that will deal with the issue. Once the issue has resolution the IT Operations/Help Desk team will close the issue.

While this has worked pretty smoothly with most IT applications it has been a real challenge for many EDI departments.

Common IT Operations Support Center Challenges:

  • EDI is external facing: While most of the issues that the Operations Support/Help Desk deals with are internal issues, EDI issues often have to do with external trading partner data missing.
  • Access to the EDI Scheduler. Very often the EDI job scheduler is part of the EDI application and not part of the enterprise IT scheduler. This would require some role in the operations support center to get access to the EDI application.
  • EDI is a niche when compared to other commodity IT services like EMAIL, ERP system and etc, even when dealing with basic EDI issues like the PO Number missing in the BEG-03 segment would require someone in operations to get EDI Fundamentals training. With multiple working shifts in the operations department and sometimes high turn-over, this becomes a difficult to always keep the support team up to date.
  • EDI is extremely time sensitive. While other IT issues like EMAIL being down are important, an EDI file delay can cause a company tens of thousands of dollars in EDI chargebacks. Therefore the bottle neck between the help desk and the EDI department can be too big.

So what happens if the EDI department is forced to give up the EDI help desk production support and job monitoring to a centralized help desk/operations team?

  • The good: In a highly regulated controlled corporate IT environment with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) in place, having a centralized operations support center approach can benefit the EDI team. The benefit is that the EDI team would not have to file exceptions and simply refer to the SOP (Standard-Operating-Procedure). The trade-off to the challenges mentioned above is that now EDI does not have to spend as much effort on its internal “customized” controls and will spend less time in audits.
  • The bad: The operations support team becomes a simple answering service and a bottle neck between a functional area in the company like Accounts Receivable and the EDI team.
  • Good/Balanced Approach: The EDI team should be able to leverage operations support / help-desk help by providing internal training and crystal clear instructions on the steps and workflow when issues come up. Building internal relationships and having immediate access from the help-desk to the EDI department helps as well. One organization embraced this by creating crystal clear instructions with a workflow and providing Instant Message buddy lists of the EDI team to the help desk. Another company simply embedded one of their junior team members EDI into the operations help-desk team.



EDI Academy 2011: Find out more

To learn more and sign up for a seminar, see the organization’s Training Academy course schedule page; or find out more about the EDI Academy at


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