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EDI Solutions: Myths and Realities

To help counter some of the confusion and misinformation swirling around the topic of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), we’ll be publishing a series of educational blogposts throughout the year. These posts will range from introductory pieces for folks who are researching EDI solutions, to productivity tips and product updates for current Lanham EDI users. We’ll hear from customers and talk with Lanham EDI product developers—all focused on dispelling myths and shedding light on EDI realities.

Why should you listen to us? Lanham EDI has been offering customers maximum visibility, efficiency, and control for two decades. We have more EDI NAV users than anyone else, and offer more trading partner maps and documents than any other NAV EDI provider, spanning both the incoming and outbound sides of EDI.

We’ll kick the series off by discussing a few key points to consider if you are currently shopping for an EDI solution.

Five factors to consider before you buy EDI

In today’s marketplace, large retailers and other trading partners require business transactions, including fulfillment, to be conducted via EDI, which means suppliers have no choice about EDI compliance. If they don’t “speak” EDI – there is no sales order.

However these “commercial conversations” involve more than just exchanging data. They include packaging, labeling, and shipping requirements as well, and if any of these elements are incorrect or not properly supported, suppliers will be hit with hefty chargebacks!

When you have to make an EDI decision, here are five key factors to consider:

#1 – Embedded vs. External EDI

An embedded system such as Lanham EDI, which is built directly inside Microsoft® DynamicsTM NAV and uses NAV’s standard user interface, offers seamless mapping of EDI transactions within the business system. It’s all right there inside your business system in a familiar format, available for look-up or reporting. Efficiency is maximized. Users start their day with sales orders and end it with invoices, everything in its place — within NAV. No switching back and forth between computer screens or worrying about locating documents.

External EDI translation systems by their very nature exist outside the business system, leaving the final EDI connection into the business system database to programmers, or even worse – to manual entry. When external EDI system users consider a NAV upgrade, they have to plan for new EDI interface software and test connections to the upgraded system. Lanham EDI keeps pace with NAV in its new versions and runs natively inside each NAV release. Often you can also implement a new version of Lanham EDI without even having to upgrade NAV.

#2 – Privacy Concerns

In today’s era of hacking and privacy concerns, EDI offers many benefits since the data doesn’t have to be routed through a human handling process. If you decide on an external EDI system you’ll need to consider how comfortable you are handing over your data to be managed by a third party on an external system, essentially limiting the amount of control and access you’ll have to your own data.

#3 – Ease of Implementation and Management

How easy will it be to get started and manage your EDI? Spoiler alert:  Lanham EDI can be implemented any way you want:   Do your mapping in-house, outsource some of it, or outsource all of it (while it is still running inside your business system), and you still maintain control of your data.

#4 – The VAN Factor

With Lanham EDI, you can communicate with trading partners either directly or through a VAN. We recommend going direct whenever possible to eliminate EDI VAN fees, but if you need a VAN, you can choose one, with Lanham’s low-cost VAN being one of the available options. The Lanham VAN never locks you in with a multi-year contract.

#5 – Is Shipping Embedded, or an After-thought?

Don’t forget that the real scope of EDI extends beyond the data exchange.

Lanham’s E-Ship solution is another option. It provides embedded access to package carrier manifests from UPS, FedEx, USPS and LTL — all built inside the NAV business system. It can be used to complement EDI by automatically building the ASN without any outside, expensive, risky interfaces. When UCC-128 or GS1-128 labels are needed, they can be printed at the same time the boxes are being sealed, or carrier labels are printed. And the ASN can be sent as soon as the shipment is posted — no rekeying or costly copy and paste errors. It’s as easy as 1) Select an order to ship; 2) Physically pick the product; 3) Scan it as you pack it; 4) Close the package, print labels and packing slips for each package; and 5) It’s out the door.    

These are just a few of the key points to keep in mind when exploring EDI options. We’ll dive a bit deeper in future posts and provide additional food for thought on your EDI journey. If you have questions, or would like to learn more about Lanham EDI, or schedule a demo, drop us a line at education@lanhamassoc.com. We’d be happy to provide more information and put you in touch with a Lanham Reselling Partner who can arrange a demo.

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