by CData Arc Marketing | December 28, 2018

EDI Issues: How to Solve the Most Common EDI Integration Challenges

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Organizations across the supply chain depend on electronic data interchange (EDI) to transfer business documents between trading partners quickly, efficiently, and securely. There are a lot of moving parts to an EDI integration. File transfer, translation, building and parsing EDI documents, and then finally integrating these documents with back-end applications, like customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), and accounting systems. EDI also depends on complex, hierarchical data to create documents for complicated shipping arrangements, including coordinating the shipping of parts for orders that need to arrive at the same time. With such a jigsaw of interconnected processes, issues can crop up. In this article, we will discuss the common challenges you may encounter during EDI integration projects and how to address them.

7 Common EDI issues and how to troubleshoot them

EDI significantly enhances business operations by streamlining communications, but it also presents specific challenges. Recognizing and resolving these issues is essential for maintaining efficient EDI systems. By addressing these pain points, organizations can ensure smoother EDI integrations, minimize disruptions, and enhance overall reliability and efficiency in their business processes. Here are some common problems and practical solutions to troubleshoot EDI issues effectively.

Brittle EDI integrations

Sometimes, custom EDI integrations are built for a specific process and, for one reason or another, may sidestep standards. If these integrations are highly dependent on each other, alterations in the code can make the integrations brittle. Applications become difficult to navigate, and updates cause a domino effect of issues. When one part of the system changes, it can break other parts, leading to unplanned downtime and high maintenance costs. What's more, the lack of standardization makes troubleshooting more complex and time-consuming. As a result, businesses may face disruptions in their operations and increased costs.

The solution is relatively simple: standardized code or API-driven microservices provide testable, reusable components to make your integration less brittle and more reliable. Standardized code ensures consistency, making it easier to update and maintain integrations. API-driven microservices break down large, complex systems into smaller, manageable components that can be developed, tested, and deployed independently. This modular approach improves reliability and makes it easier to scale and adapt to changing business needs.

Bad data leading to EDI errors

Bad data in EDI integration is a common challenge. Inaccurate or incomplete data can lead to failed transactions, causing delays and disruptions in business operations. For example, incorrect product codes or missing shipment details can result in rejected orders or delivery errors. This can lead to significant operational inefficiencies, frustrated partners, and lost revenue. Bad data can also complicate compliance efforts, as errors must be corrected to meet regulatory standards, adding another layer of difficulty.

Implementing data validation processes can mitigate these issues, helping businesses prevent errors from propagating through their systems, maintain accurate records, and improve overall efficiency. CData Arc offers robust data validation tools that can identify and correct errors before data is transmitted, ensuring smooth and error-free EDI transactions. Performing regular audits and data quality checks can help identify recurring issues and improve data governance practices, further enhancing the reliability of EDI processes. By taking steps to remove bad data, companies can maintain trust with their partners, reduce the stress of managing EDI errors, and focus on growing their business.

Limited EDI transaction capabilities

Snags are common in any EDI integration effort, and organizations often need to set up custom responses, such as routing a file to multiple destinations or resubmitting a message after a certain time if the transmission fails. Rigid platforms can make designing these responses difficult and limit an organization’s ability to respond quickly and efficiently to integration challenges. Teams may be forced to implement workarounds that can be time-consuming and error-prone, hindering the ability to optimize workflows and adapt to new requirements or unexpected issues.

A flexible platform supports customizations and enables on-the-fly adjustments to handle issues as they come up. Flexible platforms like CData Arc allow users to adjust their integrations to meet specific business needs, ensuring that EDI processes remain adaptable and efficient. Minimize disruptions, maintain smooth operations, and keep your business running smoothly, even in the face of unexpected EDI challenges.

Lack of internal expertise

EDI integration service providers and value-added networks (VANs) offer many conveniences. However, companies may not be able to deal with even minor issues because there is no internal ownership of the process. If a problem, like an incorrect value for a field, crops up, a ticket must be opened with the provider to fix it. In the meantime, orders may not get processed in time, which can lead to chargebacks that eat away at profit margins.

Companies should develop in-house expertise, even when using a third-party provider for EDI integration and processing. When internal teams understand the process, they can troubleshoot issues and make quick adjustments without opening tickets for every error, ensuring smoother, more efficient operations. By investing in training and developing employees’ EDI skills, organizations can reduce dependency on external vendors and increase agility and resilience.

Manual EDI processing

When EDI processes lack full integration, employees need to step in to handle workflows. For example, Web EDI users must log into a portal, personally confirm purchase orders from trading partners, and then manually enter the shipping and fulfillment information. Manual data entry slows down processes and increases the chance of human error, which can lead to incorrect shipping information, misplaced orders, and further complications that disrupt the supply chain.

A fully integrated EDI system automates these processes, allowing for seamless data transfer between systems without manual intervention. Automation enhances accuracy and efficiency, ensuring that orders are processed swiftly and correctly. It enables real-time tracking and updates, providing greater visibility into the order fulfillment process. By reducing the reliance on manual steps, companies can significantly cut down on processing times, minimize errors, and improve customer satisfaction.

Potential security issues

EDI systems handle sensitive business data, making them prime targets for security breaches. Unauthorized access, data interception, and tampering during transmission disrupt operations, expose confidential information, and erode confidence, any of which can be difficult to recover from.

Implementing strong encryption protocols and secure authentication mechanisms protects EDI data from falling into the wrong hands. CData Arc provides comprehensive security features, including encrypted communications and secure user authentication, to safeguard your EDI transactions against potential security threats. Continuous monitoring and regular security audits and updates help your organization stay vigilant and further bolster data protection.

Multiple applications and EDI integration solutions

Different teams within an organization often use a variety of different applications, like CRM (customer relationship management), accounting, ERP (enterprise resource planning), warehousing, and databases, with each team building custom, isolated integrations for their processes. EDI processes also include file transfers, message translation, and backend integration, which are often handled by different solutions. This complicates training and creates a steep learning curve for developers to become familiar with all these different applications. Troubleshooting is also made more difficult because teams have to wade through multiple avenues to locate the source of the problem.

Adopting a single integration solution for all your applications and integration processes eases the learning curve, reduces the time needed to create a new integration, ensures that the process is reusable and repeatable, and simplifies troubleshooting.

Solve your EDI issues and simplify integrations with CData Arc

Addressing EDI integration challenges requires the right tools. CData Arc simplifies the process by streamlining the development, execution, and governance of integration flows across trading partner organizations. With CData Arc, your organization can access robust EDI integration capabilities without the need for coding or development tools, thanks to its process-driven design. The platform also includes pre-packaged integrations and API management, making it easier to implement and manage EDI solutions effectively.

  • Standardized integration using ports and APIs: CData Arc EDI messaging ports can translate, map, and change file formats from your enterprise applicators to various EDI messaging standards. Drummond-certified ports perform secure file transfers from one trading partner to another. An API port is available to create APIs to kick off message flows for process-based orchestration. Additional ports are available to process or generate documents based on pre-defined templates.
  • Simple integrations: Many simple integrations can be completed without programming using our intuitive designer. Once the port is configured, CData Arc automates the process of inputting, transporting, and outputting the message. All these capabilities are available in a single, end-to-end solution. Having a single application to manage all integrations eliminates coding for each piece of the process, eliminating multiple points in the case of failure.
  • Visibility: CData Arc provides a common workflow canvas that maps all processes that function across the entire application. Our end-to-end workflows provide visibility into all integrations in one place so users can see how each integration impacts each process. Our solution also provides comprehensive monitoring of EDI-based document flows through audit logs and a logging dashboard, so you know what's happening with your POs, invoices, and other documents every step of the way.
  • Agility: CData Arc provides a wide range of flexible deployment options to meet customer requirements. The included RSBScript cross-platform configuration language allows users to extend CData Arc with flexibility.

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