by CData Arc Marketing | December 28, 2018

Solving the Most Common Challenges of EDI Integration

Businesses across the supply chain commonly use electronic data exchange (EDI) to transfer business documents in a timely manner.

Whenever you embark on an EDI integration, you'll encounter many moving parts. You'll need to perform file transfer and translation, build and parse EDI documents, and then integrate these documents with back-end applications, such as CRM, ERP or accounting systems. EDI also depends on complex, hierarchical data to create shipping documents for complicated shipping arrangements, such as orders that require multiple parts to arrive at the same time.

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With such a labyrinthine of end-to-end processes, much can go wrong. Here are common challenges we've encountered during EDI integration projects and how to address them.

1) Brittle Integrations

Organizations may build integrations that are not standardized. If these custom integrations are highly dependent on each other to support a specific process, and are not well tested, the code can become brittle. Applications become difficult to migrate, do not react well to updates and changes, and are costly to modify. Using standard code or API driven microservices gives you testable, reusable components that make your integration less brittle and more reliable.

2) Limited Capabilities

Often during an integration, unanticipated issues arise. For example, you might want to incorporate a post-processing event that routes a file to multiple destinations or resubmits a message after 50 minutes if it initially fails to transmit. Having a flexible platform that supports customizations and enables you make adjustments on-the-fly to handle issues specific to your business processes is critical. Look for an agile platform that allows you to customize your integrations.

3) Lack of Internal Expertise

One of the biggest problems we've encountered with integrations is when a company has no ownership of the integration project and, instead, relies completely on a service provider for the integration process. If a problem arises, such as an incorrect value for a field, the company must open a ticket and wait for someone to fix it. In the meantime, the company may have purchase orders piling up, which can lead to chargebacks that eat away at profit margins when orders are not processed within the contracted time. Addressing this challenge requires you to have in-house expertise so you can understand the process, troubleshoot and make adjustments.

4) Manual Processing

When EDI processes are not fully integrated, manual processes can drive some related workflows. For example, when companies use Web EDI with their trading partner, they log into a Web portal and see all the purchase orders their partner has sent. They may click to acknowledge a particular order and then manually fill out a form to enter shipping/fulfillment information. This manual step leaves open the possibility for errors. A fully integrated end-to-end process where people don't have to enter information manually through the web speeds data entry and saves costs from potential chargebacks.

5) Multiple Applications and Multiple Integration Solutions

Different teams in an organization use different applications: CRM, Accounting, ERP/Warehousing, databases for storing information from these applications and more. Each team may build custom, isolated integrations for their own processes. In addition, the EDI process incorporates a file transfer portion to send and receive files to and from business partners, a translation process that formats and parses messages, and an integration process to push data into and out of the back-end application. Companies may use different solutions for each of these EDI integration processes.

However, organizations that use different solutions for application integration and for each of these EDI integration processes can have a steep learning curve as developers learn multiple applications. Troubleshooting can also be difficult as they hunt in different solutions for the source of a problem. Having a single integration solution for all your applications and integration processes speeds the learning curve, reduces the time needed to create a new integration, ensures that the process is reusable and repeatable, and simplifies troubleshooting.

Simplifying EDI Integration with CData Arc

Addressing all these issues requires the right tools. CData Arc simplifies your EDI integration by streamlining the development, execution and governance of integration flows across trading partner organizations. With CData Arc, your organizations can benefit from EDI integration capabilities, eliminate the need for coding or development tools because the solution is process driven, and can take advantage of pre-packaged integrations and API management.

Some of the key CData Arc capabilities that simplify EDI integration include:

  • 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 transfer to send files from one trading partner to another. An API Port is available to create APIs that kick off message flows for process-based orchestration. Ports are even 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 to integrate different pieces of the process and means there's just one point 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 platform in a highly flexible manner.

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Learn more about how CData Arc can enable you to overcome common EDI integration challenges.