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Tricky Move: Changing Your EDI Provider

Interacting with trading partners on a daily basis is simple once you establish how your orders and other transactions move between companies. Changing that well-oiled track can be fraught with problems unless it's approached carefully and executed flawlessly.

Most suppliers have no reason to change their Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) provider. In fact, for most companies, changing their EDI service is a task left till the provider is about to go out of business or has failed to deliver contracted services. The initial effort involved in setting up service, testing transactions, modifying document translators, and making sure communications are in place is traumatic enough that even thinking about and, for some companies, that additional cost may be reason enough to consider finding a new provider.

Switching EDI providers can be much less a challenge than setting up the initial connection. This is because under most circumstances the transition can be done in stages without disrupting existing transaction flows. Without the pressures involved in getting up and running quickly in order to transact business with trading partners, the transition can be made at a much more leisurely pace, switching one trading partner at a time, and only after adequate testing has been completed.

In a practical sense, much depends on the trading partners' capabilities. Many trading partners are able to monitor more than one EDI mailbox for any particular supplier. If this is the case, changing the delivery ID will route those new transactions to the new mailbox while the old mailbox can remain in service until all the transactions still in progress complete their life cycles. Both trading partners can operate the old and new mailboxes until the partner changing providers is ready to terminate its contract with its original provider and close the old mailbox.

Some trading partners are unable to manage multiple mailboxes for a single supplier, or their own EDI supplier may not offer the ability to quickly and easily change its mailbox routing function. The company attempting to change its provider may find that their trading partner is reluctant to make the change and suggests other alternatives. Whether it's advisable to accept the suggestion or push ahead with the plan is something that needs to be evaluated with each trading partner.

The other common methodology for changing providers is to make a single change of the supplier's ID at the Value-Added Network (VAN) EDI Provider. This is a one-step method and avoids some complications that can arise when the change is done in the more granular fashion that requires testing and validating each trading partner connection at the time of transition. With the one-step method, there is generally no need to re-validate the connection. In fact, there is no need to even notify the trading partners of the change since nothing will change for them. Transactions will come and go as normal but will be using a new EDI mailbox. The old EDI mailbox will be abandoned immediately at the time the switch is made.

This kind of change may leave some transactions orphaned in the old mailbox when it is terminated. Depending on transaction volumes between trading partners, this may or may not be a problem. This one-shot method requires monitoring and checking of all the outstanding transactions in order to be certain none are left behind. If any are determined to be missing, they need to be reinitiated.

There are additional details that need to be considered and well planned with both the new EDI service provider and trading partners. But these kinds of changes are a matter of routine with most EDI service providers, and they understand the complexities of such a change. Even so, taking responsibility for the changeover and verifying each step and each transaction is prudent.

Have you switched EDI providers? Let us know what you learned in our comments section.

26 comments on “Tricky Move: Changing Your EDI Provider

  1. Nemos
    July 30, 2013

    Very nice blog spot and very specific subject but it is not clear the reason behind the move of changing EDI provider. Why should I want to change the EDI provider ? 

  2. Scott Koegler
    July 30, 2013

    @Nemos – Reasons could include change of internal ERP system, new trading partner with different requirements, replacing aging internal systems, or just a bid to save money.

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    July 30, 2013

    THanks Scott. Do you think that there are ways to save a relationship with an EDI provider before moving? Or are things kind of set in stone and moving is the best way to go?

  4. ahdand
    July 31, 2013

    @Hailey: I don't think there is anything wrong if you want to change your EDI supplier. Its our choice and mainly it happens due to low level of service or the price factor. So the supplier should understand that its because of their fault the customers are moving.     

  5. Susan Fourtané
    July 31, 2013

    Nemos, 

    You shouldn't, if you are happy with your EDI provider. 

    -Susan 

  6. Ashu001
    July 31, 2013

    Nemos,

    Never,ever neglect the Power and force of Money.

    If there is Money to be made here,I am 100% sure there will companies willing and able enough to take the risk to move to a new EDI System.

  7. Himanshugupta
    July 31, 2013

    If you change the EDI provider too often then you might not be evaluating the full potential or not giving enough time for your provider to attend your queries. Going to new provider also means extra effort to understand the culture, working philosophy, TOT of problems, employee training etc. But if you have stuck to a provider for enough long period then you can develop some personal relations and squeez more out due to that relationship.

  8. Ashu001
    July 31, 2013

    Hailey,

    I believe its always best to Negotiate with your Existing Provider first before taking the Drastic Step to move elsewhere.

    Does'nt seem right to ditch a Relationship which has worked so well for so long straightaway.

    You never know,You maybe even able to match the Existing Offer(from a Competitor) if you negotiate well.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  9. Ashu001
    July 31, 2013

    Susan,

    This is just my personal observation(and I could very well be wrong here) but Life rarely is that simple and easy to Manage.

    Am I right/wrong here?

    Especially when Big Sums of Money are involved-Things become complicated very,very quickly.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  10. Ashu001
    July 31, 2013

    HImanshu,

    I tend to agree with your Point of View here.

    But as I had pointed out to Susan earlier,This is easier said than done,Especially when large sums of Money are involved.

    That's when things get very,very complicated.

    I am sure you must have yourself seen and experienced many,many vendors influence Consumers through Cash and Kind Awards to get them to buy just from them.

    Is that Ethical Behavior?

    Not really,but that's how the real world usually operated.

     

  11. Daniel
    July 31, 2013

    “If you change the EDI provider too often then you might not be evaluating the full potential or not giving enough time for your provider to attend your queries. Going to new provider also means extra effort to understand the culture, working philosophy,”

    Himanshu, it's not fully true. Within a certain time frame they are not able to cater our requirement, then its better to change it. But before we making the next step make sure that the new person is able to cater our requirement within a specified time frame.

  12. Daniel
    July 31, 2013

    “THanks Scott. Do you think that there are ways to save a relationship with an EDI provider before moving? Or are things kind of set in stone and moving is the best way to go?”

    Hailey, the answer is very much. First make sure about what's their new requirement and is it possible to address it. Secondly, can we offer a superior service than my competitor.

  13. Daniel
    July 31, 2013

    “You shouldn't, if you are happy with your EDI provider”

    Susan, if competitor is providing a better service then we may tempt for that

  14. Daniel
    July 31, 2013

    “Most suppliers have no reason to change their Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) provider. In fact, for most companies, changing their EDI service is a task left till the provider is about to go out of business or has failed to deliver contracted services”

    Scott aaprt from that I had seen in some other instances also they had changed their EDI. But we cannot say that's due to failure of service, but may be for better service.

  15. Scott Koegler
    August 1, 2013

    I've found that changing EDI providers is similar to buying a new refrig. There are only certain (major) events that set a change in place – change of business, new relationship, broken unit, or significantly different technology.

  16. Susan Fourtané
    August 1, 2013

    Jacob, 

    Yes, but what I mean is that if you are happy with your EDI provider, if you are getting good service, and good customer service, too, you could well stay as you are instead of changing.

    You change provider only if you are not happy, or there is something better, and more competitive. However, even then, there are many things that could consider at the time of making the decision. 

    -Susan 

  17. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    August 2, 2013

    @Ashish, I agree that it is less expensive and much more beneficial to maintain and improve an existing relationship. However, the organization needs to be ready to consider that their needs may have grown beyond or in a different direction than the capabilities of the provider. It's a delicate balance. It's always worth exploring, but you also have to be willing to look for a better fit if that's what is best for the business.

  18. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    August 2, 2013

    @Scott, that makes sense to me. Usually it's a pain point in most situations that allows for change. I think that looking around to see what the newest options are is a useful excercise once in a while, even if you end up staying with an existing provider. At least then you know that it is still  a good fit.

  19. FLYINGSCOT
    August 2, 2013

    I have found it very difficult to determine who the best EDI providers are.  The thought of change is also daunting as you never know what will come out of the woodwork after the change.

  20. Scott Koegler
    August 2, 2013

    I agree. It's difficult to know what company can do the best for you. But that's not unlike any other purchase decision. Unfortunately you may not understand the true answer until after you've made the decision. 

    One factor that can help is to use one of the SaaS providers rather than software. That way you don't end up with a big investment in software and hardware and can terminate the month to month arrangement if necessary. 

    Still not an ideal situation because there's plenty of work that goes into these transitions, but at least it removes the investment/loss part of the equation.

  21. Daniel
    August 5, 2013

    “You change provider only if you are not happy, or there is something better, and more competitive. However, even then, there are many things that could consider at the time of making the decision. “

    Susan, logically speaking you are right. But would you think that, in industry things are happening s in similar way, NO. in most of the times, it's all governed by personal emotions.

  22. Daniel
    August 5, 2013

    “I've found that changing EDI providers is similar to buying a new refrig. There are only certain (major) events that set a change in place – change of business, new relationship, broken unit, or significantly different technology.”

    Skoegler, only interacting persons are changing, rest is same. Same business but with different peoples.

  23. Susan Fourtané
    August 6, 2013

    Jacob, 

    It's quite scary what you say. If a company is entirely governed by personal emotionals there can be a high risk of ineficiency in all what they do, and the results being chaotic. 

    Maybe those companies governed by emotions should try to learn about emotional intelligence, and working with emotional intelligence. There are good books on the topic written by Daniel Goleman. 

    Personal emotions, and business are not compatible for a successful business deal of any kind. You need logic, critical thinking, and common sense to be able to make good decisions in business. Otherwise, it's a fail. 

    -Susan 

  24. Daniel
    August 8, 2013

    “Personal emotions, and business are not compatible for a successful business deal of any kind. You need logic, critical thinking, and common sense to be able to make good decisions in business. Otherwise, it's a fail. “

    You are absolutely right Susan, but personal relations and emotions are always there in doing business. How many people are giving 100% weightage to business goals and merits of the customer, while making the decession?

  25. Susan Fourtané
    August 8, 2013

    Jacob, 

    You certainly can't leave your emotions run freely if you are managing a company. Working with emotional intelligence means managing those emotions, and feelings so they can express properly, and effectively.

    That would make to a better decision making, and better work interactions. It's all about managing skills, and learning to work with emotional intelligence is one of them. 

    -Susan 

  26. Daniel
    August 14, 2013

    “You certainly can't leave your emotions run freely if you are managing a company. Working with emotional intelligence means managing those emotions, and feelings so they can express properly, and effectively.”

    You are right Susan, but once in a while, most of the peoples get biased to it.

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