10 September 2012

Trend Alert: Dynamics GP Users Changing Course in How They Manage EDI Requirements

This is a guest post by EDI Expert Glenn McPeak
I’ve been keeping my eye on it and given the uptick of questions I’ve been receiving and discussions I’m having, I’m now going to call it a “trend” - the Microsoft GP user community is changing the way they want to manage EDI. Until now, it seemed that companies were selecting one of numerous options to meet their EDI mandates, but after hearing a lot about what EDI is not doing for their company, I’m seeing a shift in what they are looking for when it comes to Dynamics GP EDI, especially now that we’re on the cusp of the Microsoft Dynamics GP 2013 release.  With pending future upgrades in consideration, companies are also thinking about how they can best manage EDI now, while also setting themselves up for a potential upgrade down the road, cost-effectively killing two birds with one stone.

From the discussions I’m having out in the community, I understand that GP customers are discovering more and more about what EDI should be delivering to their business. What was once acceptable is no longer the case, as technology has changed to support evolving business needs and Microsoft’s development strategies.

Here are the latest trends in what GP users are looking for when it comes to EDI:    

#1 – End to end automation
Pushing a button to integrate a transaction used to be great as it saved time over manual entry.  But now users are asking, “Why do I have to push a button and who is going to do it at 2am?” They want automation of key EDI process that gives them the flexibility and security they’re looking for. 

#2 – Manage EDI by exception
GP users don’t want to deal with every transaction, only the issues that need attention. Managing by exception lets the transactions without discrepancies continue without interruption and eliminates unnecessary manual touch points.

#3 – Leverage standard Microsoft integration framework
Writing directly to tables and bypassing business logic is not best practice. By leveraging integration tools such as Microsoft’s e-Connect, users can avoid custom routines that populate data and bypass standard business logic.

#4 – Deeper and broader integrations
Users need more advanced logic, such as touching specific values in a sales order or handling advanced three-way matching logic.  They also need broader document integrations so they can get new documents integrated quickly and easily to avoid jeopardizing trading partners relationships.   

#5 – Avoid transaction fees
EDI data is a lot like email – would you pay to send an email? Right, then why pay for transactions when you don’t need to, especially when your trading partners support direct connect?  

#6 – Audit the transactions Too many companies complain about the lack of tools available that can identify issues before they become problems. They wonder why they can’t find out that an invoice was not transmitted and/or received by a partner before it is overdue. They would rather receive an email alerting them when a document has failed.

#7 – Guaranteed support turn-around times: In the world of EDI where delays and errors can result in unnecessary and costly expense, organizations don’t have the flexibility of waiting for support responses.

Responding to these trends is an innovative EDI technology model that GP users are rapidly adopting. Users are looking to an EDI solution that is based on leveraging the native integration framework of the GP platform while providing all of the EDI transaction functionality outside the application¸ an alternative to other EDI technologies that provide similar functionality inside the application. With this approach, companies can:

1.     Implement a single, plug-and-play, truly integrated solution that doesn’t utilize 3rd party translator tools;  

2.     Leverage a fully-automated EDI solution with predictable ownership costs; and

3.     Benefit from a non-embedded design and XML data storage within SQL that avoids ERP requirements and customizations, simplifying daily use and providing flexibility when managing ERP update/upgrade projects

[Glenn McPeak, Jon Rivers and the rest of the folks at Data Masons do a great job at being the go to EDI experts for the GP community. They are also sponsoring the upcoming GP Technical Airlift this week in Fargo, N.D. If you're going, make sure to say Hi and bring your EDI questions. - Mark]