The seafood was fresh and tasty, but the conversation was even better.
Marlow and I talked about his last contribution to the ec-bp.org newsletter about multiple IDs and customers' requirements for documentation. It was interesting that shortly after his last column bemoaning the plight of smaller suppliers trying to comply with the increasingly complex requirements for doing business, that I was talking with one of my clients who is stuck in exactly that situation.
One of their larger customers is Anna's Linens. The company expects its suppliers to create a set of EDI documents and shipping instructions based not on the order, but on information contained in an Excel document. The spreadsheet lists the products and shipping destinations along with the DCs. This might not be so bad, except that the requirement is that the invoices, ASN, and shipments don't match each other in any logical sense except what is listed in the spreadsheet.
All this wouldn't be so terrible if there were some way to automate this process by describing the documentation and shipping within the purchase order(s). As it is, there is no automation, and because of the complexity of the distribution, is prone to mistakes. I would imagine that mistakes in these shipments are expensive... not just to Anna's, but also to my client by way of processing fines that (I would expect) would be imposed by the customer.
By the end of dinner Marlow and I had devised a methodology for handling these requirements. But as we reviewed the processing requirements and the possible, if not likely, permutations in the way different customers might implement similar schemes, we agreed that the best way to handle the mess is for the ordering companies to just stop doing it. They should rather simplify the orders and break them up into more manageable slices.
We also agreed that the meal was great, and the coconut pie was the best either of us had ever tasted. But, back on the road again for both of us this week.