After you (re)visit why you are investing in EDI integration as part of the strategy process and you have examined some alternatives in supporting the strategy of your business, establishing an understanding of your present state becomes a critical first step in moving your integration capabilities forward.
Assessing your current capabilities in people, process, and technology helps you plan the gap between where you are now and where you are headed, and sometimes gives you criterion and a scorecard to measure against along the way.
B2B Complexity Drives EDI Benchmarking and Planning
Motivations to plan and benchmark as part of the strategic process vary. B2B integration complexity is growing due to increasing customer supply chain visibility and compliance demands, regulatory compliance, and analytics and insights required for business operations. Contrast this against aging systems and infrastructure, siloed solutions and data sources, and the intense competition for budget money, it seems more important than ever that you have an EDI integration strategic plan and perform regular capability assessments.
What Information Should You Be Using for Benchmarks?
To determine whether you are getting the most out of your EDI solution, you need to know what benchmarks you should be using to track that success. Fortunately, it is not difficult to set or measure those benchmarks; you can judge them from the data in your EDI solution already.
If EDI is a substantial part of your business, your metrics are based on the data coming in and out of your EDI solution. How many purchase orders are coming in, and what are they worth to your company? Is your business conducted through a value-added network or sent over the web through AS2?
Knowing this data can tell you whether there are any “breaks in the chain.” If you are not receiving certain documents, or your documents are not being received, you have a problem. That problem can cost you business. It is important to know whether there are any weaknesses in your EDI solution so you can fix them as soon as possible.
Examples of Metrics to Benchmark
You can use metrics such as 997 (functional acknowledgment, meaning that information has been sent and it cannot be repudiated, but there is no guarantee of accuracy). How many 997 codes are being received? How many are failing, and are you failing to meet SLAs because you are not acknowledging those codes in a timely fashion?
Advanced shipping notices (ASNs) are another metric you could use. Many trading partners require receiving ASNs half-an-hour before a shipment arrives. ASNs must contain exact instructions on how to break down an order as well as information on whether an order is complete. If you are not sending out your ASNs on time, that is a sign you need to improve that metric.
EDI Benchmarking Resources
Benchmarking can be accomplished utilizing peer trading partners, industry analyst reports and research, integration and EDI vendors, industry association data, and models that measure your location on some integration and EDI capability spectrum.
Here is a resource that allows you to identify your current EDI integration capabilities state and aids in updating your plan in support of the overall business strategy: FREE Whitepaper: Preparing Your Integration Infrastructure to Support Business Strategy. It provides references to supporting research and useful steps for you to advance your integration capabilities along the maturity spectrum.
You might also be interested in checking out these related articles:
- Why B2B Integration Maturity Is Not A Bridge Too Far
- Exploring the Stages of Successful B2B Integration
- InfoGraphic - B2B Integration: Beyond the Buzzwords...IT Megatrends Making Business Faster and more Robust, Complex and Competitive
Where are you on the integration maturity spectrum? Are you ready for data integration? Get the assessment. Absolutely free.