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Effectively Managing an Outsourced Mapping Department

worldOver the years EDI has proven to be an integral part of the strategic vision of many companies. Gaining systems integration with our customers and vendors allows us to decide and act more quickly, with more accurate and reliable data to the fluid movements of the business environment.   This in and of itself can be a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

At the very core of this electronic relationship are the data translation maps that each party employs to use in the integration process. These maps allow each side to read the standard EDI into and out of their ERP systems without concern for what systems are on the other side of the relationship.  Put simply, the maps are the backbone of the entire process.

With the benefits of EDI being well documented, those of us having responsibility for that function of an organization realize that we cannot stand on our proverbial laurels, but continue to find efficiencies and ROI gains. The proliferation of cloud based applications and SaaS solutions has evolved and given us another tool to tap into economies of scale by outsourcing parts or all of our EDI function to a third party.  Increases in systems uptime, and internal costs of an EDI program can be greatly reduced, and are all great, but managing new trading partners or changes to existing partner EDI specifications can be a bit tricky in practice.

Oftentimes utilizing an outsourced mapping team means that you are communicating requirements to someone outside of your organization that does not have the specific experience with your ERP, data, and does not understand the nuances to the unique business processes specific to your company. Trusting an outsider with this task with such an important function of the EDI process can indeed be daunting, but fear not, with a few simple planning and communication techniques, outsourcing mapping can prove itself to be another gem of efficiency.

First and foremost the most important aspect in this paradigm is undoubtedly communication. While it may seem to be obvious, clear, concise communication is paramount to employing this model and cannot be overlooked.  I have seen 15 year veterans who have handled the mapping responsibilities in the past struggle mightily after transferring the responsibility to outsourced resources, but on the other hand relative newbies have no problems at all.   In most all cases, communication is at the root of success or failure.

Keep watching for my next blog post where I will present strategies I have found to be most effective managing an outsourced mapping team.
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