Switching EDI providers sounds daunting, but with the right mindset and preparation the task isn’t as tall as you think it is. Here’s what to expect and how to prepare.
Get clear on why you’re sourcing a new EDI provider. Has your legacy provider exposed you to chargebacks? Is it unable to handle integrations you need in order to hit business goals? Have you and your team been left in customer support purgatory one too many times? Is your current system buckling under demand?
Ultimately, you want a concise, clear rundown of what you need your new EDI provider to do. And don’t over-engineer it! Even a short list of bullets is sufficient.
Do Some Back-of-Napkin Math
No potential EDI provider is going to be able to truthfully tell you exactly how much time and money they’ll save you, but you can set benchmarks that they can react to. For example, if you experience $X worth of chargebacks each quarter, what would be an acceptable rate of reduction?
Ten percent? Twenty?
An EDI provider worth its salt (yes, we’re talking about ourselves), should be able to give you a realistic assessment of your goals, provide relevant case studies and help you understand how their pricing fits into your equation.
Drill Down on Technical Chops
Switching EDI providers is a technical task. Have your prospective suitors provide an overview of their technical capabilities and migration processes. Ask what the common pitfalls are and how they’re avoided. Get a sense for how much time and effort a migration will require of your own team.
Pick a Migration Approach
When switching a client, we typically go with one of two approaches: migrating everything all at once or over a specified time period. Here’s the case for each:
Migrating All at Once
Switching EDI providers all at once can make sense for a number of reasons. Perhaps you only have one or a few trading partners. Maybe you’re scaling into an ERP system and want to simplify to just one EDI partner. Or maybe this approach best matches the workstyles of your team. You could also be nearing the end of a long-term contract with your current provider and have no interest in recommitting and reupping. Whatever the case, migrating all of your EDI requires you to set a cut-off date on which you’ll stop sending and receiving EDI with your legacy provider and start with the new.
The name of the game is to minimize disruption. In fact, we call it a win when trading partners don’t even notice. (Side note: Some won’t notice. Some will. Some might even require fresh testing. When we migrate a client, we’re ready for anything.)
Migrating Over Time
Oftentimes our clients with many and/or large trading partners will make the switch over time. They’ll schedule individual trading partners by a variety of criteria: volume, value, relationship, etc. We help clients develop a plan that, again, emphasizes minimal disruption. One added benefit of migrating over time is knowledge compilation. What we learn from one migration gets applied to the next.
No EDI team switches to a new platform and is off and running. We understand that learning a new system and a new user interface with potentially different workflows doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why our in-house, U.S.-based support team works with incoming clients well before the actual switching. We provide training and onboarding and are available immediately after migrations are complete. (Actually, we’re always there for you, anytime you need, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Most clients know their support team by name. And you typically get answers the same day—not weeks… not months.)
The bottom line is that customer support is a key piece of the “switching EDI providers” puzzle. Make sure that whoever you go with is there for you. (Did we mention we’re always there for you?!?!)
At the end of the day, switching EDI providers is more than doable. Make the business case. Thoughtfully evaluate your options against what you need. Make a migration plan. Get the most out of your new provider.