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Problem: No Import Capability
What is the problem?
You or your trading partner may not be able to import documents, such as Purchase Orders. For example, the supplier has a computer system for handling their Orders and producing their Invoices, but the only way to enter Orders into many systems is still to key them in. Alternatively, the trading partners may have optional import modules, but the cost of implementing them is prohibitive considering the value of the business transactions.
What solutions are there to this problem?
There are two solutions, which should both be available at reasonable prices from your EDI service provider, alongside the ordinary electronic integrations.
In the example considered here, the customer in both cases keeps a clean and simple single data interface with their EDI service provider, who then provides a variety of options for the different suppliers to receive their Purchase Orders in whatever way works for them.
- The sending party sends documents via their EDI provider, who passes them on in human readable form (eg emailed PDF).
The documents are provided to the particular business partner in readable format using their preferred method, but without resorting to paper. For example the supplier might receive their Purchase Orders in an emailed PDF. In many situations the change of process from manual to automated can be transparent to the receiving party.
Pros: The sending party has a single stream for all outbound documents, and can outsource the entire service to their EDI service provider.
Cons: If the value of the business transactions, and the number of trading partners and document volumes, are all low, then the extra expense over manually producing and sending just a few documents may not seem worth the benefits.
- The sending party sends documents via their EDI provider, who makes them available on a secure web portal.
The constrained trading partner retrieves their documents (eg Purchase Orders) from a secure web portal, while the other party keeps a clean and simple single data interface with their EDI service provider. Such a web portal is now an affordable option for customers to provide to their suppliers. For smaller suppliers who need to trade with multiple customers it is harder to cost-justify their own portal, but it can nowadays even be affordable for them – and the suppliers can then benefit by having their Purchase Orders from many customers in one place.
Pros: The sending party has a single stream for all outbound documents, and can outsource the entire service to their EDI service provider. Works particularly well where there is a relatively low number of documents exchanged with many trading partners.
Cons: There are still some costs, however low they may be per trading partner. Also, not everyone is keen to use another online service.