In the beginning, all went fairly well. My role was to install the software on their brand new server purchased specifically for this installation. No problem. The installation went fine. My next task was to train the IT staff on integration, creating maps, and dealing with the company's customers. To their credit, the staff understood the application. They caught on to the idea of mapping even though they had some initial confusion over the use of the term 'standard' and the need to make everything custom. And they were champs at integrating the EDI system with their ERP system. What they had difficulty with was the concept of creating everything from scratch for each of their customers. This was tough for them to swallow since they knew that their software vendor had already supplied systems to hundreds of other companies. And many, if not most of those companies were already connected with the same customers they wanted to connect with, but they couldn't get a copy of the maps that were already in use. To be honest, I've always had a hard time understanding why these things aren't simply collected, updated, and made available for free, but who am I? But my own understanding and gentle ways were not enough for two of the IT directors at my client's site. Even though they were close to completing their implementation, they were adamant that there had to be a better way to deal with these things. Part of their frustration came from the fact that their entire IT environment was based on reusable code. They believed that if they could use the same complex code multiple times and save the expense of redeveloping, there was no reason they couldn't reuse something as common as an EDI map. Out With the Old So it was more out of protest to the business practice that they decided to tear out the system we had spent the last three weeks putting together. They went back to the drawing board (actually they went to Google) and searched for EDI providers.
While they were doing their research, I took off for the mountains for a week. When I got back, they had decided to take what they lovingly termed "the no-brainer way out." They had initially found three or four EDI companies that required no hardware and no locally installed software. These constitute the current, growing wave of SaaS providers. After interviewing them all and determining that all of the companies subscribed to the 'reuse it all' software philosophy, they picked one. Again, I won't name names, but also again, you would certainly recognize this player. So, for the next week I essentially watched as the IT team set up their connection to the SaaS applications, installed the pre-built ERP connectors, selected the existing maps for their customers, and started moving transactions. Don't get me wrong... I helped out with plenty of advice and commentary. But to be honest, I'm thinking I need to hone my specialties a bit so as to be better equipped to help with these kinds of implementations. I also may need to learn how to work my way through a menu more efficiently since it looks like my engagements may be getting shorter as this kind of implementation catches on. One last comment ----
Don't forget that UConnect is close upon us (June 4-7) in Orlando. I went to the Gaylord Palms for a visit a few weeks ago, and I can tell you that if you enjoyed the other Gaylord venues, you'll love this one too. As an added treat, this year ec-bp.org will have its own booth. Scott Koegler has demanded that I be there, and I've promised to show up (at least for part of the time). And if you come by the booth, Scott promises to have a special souvenir for you. I'm not sure what he has up his sleeve, but I want one. See you in June! Cecil