The decision to implement EDI and connect with your business partners is certainly a wise decision that will yield benefits for your company in various strategic aspects: increasing productivity, gaining real-time visibility in the supply chain, while also cutting associated costs. Your initiative probably yielded better results with large suppliers than with small and medium-sized enterprises. However, instead of simply brushing aside these unsuccessful attempts, it is advisable to try to resolve the issues so that you can maximize the value of your investments in EDI implementation programs. Below, we present some mistakes that other companies have made in their attempts to integrate all partners in the community.
1. Inability to demonstrate to your partners the benefits of EDI integration
Like any other relationship, the inability to put yourself in your partner’s shoes to understand their perspective has dire consequences for the partnership. If you fail to communicate the positive aspects of implementing EDI to your business partner, there is a good chance they may reject the proposal.
What you can do: Most companies are tempted to choose the more concrete path of conditioning the partner to join the community, with the caveat that if they refuse the proposal, the partnership will cease. Although it might be motivating for them to know that they cannot generate revenue through their relationship with you, it is advisable not to choose the simplified, tougher approach, but to opt for a collaborative approach towards a better understanding of the process.
A good method would be to send your partners an informative message highlighting the benefits of EDI integration. It would be even better if you could include an offer to make the proposal even more enticing – for example, the possibility of being paid more quickly in exchange for receiving EDI orders and sending EDI invoices. If your partner can see the potential advantages for their company, such as an improvement in cash flow and a general reduction in costs, as well as the ‘preferential treatment’ they receive through special offers, you will have a willing partner to join your business community.
2. Communication with suppliers should be thoroughly planned
A hidden danger that many companies often overlook is that partners need information about the EDI implementation process not only before the program’s initiation but also afterward. To avoid an unpleasant wave of phone calls and emails seeking clarification, it is advisable to develop an efficient communication plan from the outset.
What you can do: Get involved in providing detailed information to your partners about EDI. Offer them in-person meetings, send clarification emails, or emails inquiring about the progress status, or even organize informative webinars. It is essential to provide your partner with support at every stage of the process and monitor its progress to intervene when problems arise.
3. Eliminate potential discrepancies within your business community
When it comes to your EDI program, it’s crucial that every member of your business community is on the same page. There are cases where community members, such as buyers, may inform suppliers that they can continue manual order processing instead of encouraging them to use EDI. Thus, they can play an active role in encouraging suppliers to implement EDI whenever they have the opportunity to do so.
What you can do: Ensure that every stakeholder in your company is properly informed and in agreement with the implementation of EDI.
4. Provide Affordable EDI Solutions
The EDI infrastructure is not easily accessible to all suppliers: some may lack the expertise or necessary resources, while others simply do not have the required budget. This situation could lead to a potential decrease in the ROI for those who join, which is not desirable for the company. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.
What you can do: Make it a priority to offer affordable solutions to your suppliers that meet their needs and can be easily implemented. Nowadays, there are numerous solutions to choose from: software or cloud hosting options, custom web forms, Excel, and so on. Through the internet, companies from anywhere can connect to other markets, regardless of linguistic differences, time zones, and national regulatory disparities.
5. High Costs for Suppliers
A common situation is when your suppliers consider the implementation of an EDI solution to be too costly and not worth the financial effort.
What you can do: An unconventional solution would be to finance the program for your small and medium-sized suppliers who cannot afford to implement EDI due to financial reasons. The first immediate benefit is rapid implementation and quick integration into your business community. The second and most significant benefit will be observable over time as your initial financing costs are amortized. You will soon feel the amortization of these costs and become part of a homogeneous business community where all partners are integrated and using the same language.
EDI has been on the market for several years and has been implemented over time by numerous companies worldwide. From this perspective, the ‘delay’ in implementing this new technology was worthwhile, considering that you can learn a lot from the companies that have experimented before you. It is advisable to try to avoid the mistakes listed above to benefit from an efficient EDI implementation along with your business partners. If you want to learn more, contact us.