September 6th, 2021

EDI services have changed a lot over the past few years. This primarily has to do with the shift from on-premise solutions to cloud-based EDI services, also referred to as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This comes as no surprise, as SaaS solutions are inherently flexible, scalable, and offer a predictable pricing model—but the same can be said for EDI managed services.

Is SaaS a Managed Service?

If this question has crossed your mind, you’re not alone.

In any case, the answer is no: SaaS is not a managed service. Although you can argue that a SaaS solution is managed to an extent, fully managed EDI services include a long list of services that are not included in a standard SaaS offering.

Here’s where it may get a bit confusing, because SaaS is not a managed service, but EDI managed services are SaaS.

What’s Included in with a True EDI SaaS Offering?

Since a standard SaaS subscription for EDI is basically a less-inclusive variation of fully managed EDI services, we’ll start here.

When you enter a true EDI SaaS agreement with your service provider, the contract will include a standard service level agreement (SLA). This provides an overview of the basic services included in the SaaS contract and outlines the extent of service provider responsibilities. When it comes to the scope of your project in particular, anything outside the scope of the SLA is charged separately. These costs are typically invoiced on a case-by-case basis (i.e., one-time setup, trading partner connection, and EDI mapping fees), while true SaaS expenses are reflected in your monthly service fee.

A true EDI SaaS solution typically includes some variation of the following the services:

Data center management: The service provider maintains all hardware and infrastructure components required for you to utilize the cloud-based EDI services remotely. This includes, but is not limited to, the physical storage location, servers, firewalls, and disaster recovery.

Functional management: The service provider guarantees the day-to-day operational success of the EDI platform from a systems perspective and ensures that performance is in line with customer-specific requirements.

Application management: The service provider ensures the security and reliability of the EDI platform, including all updates and routine and necessary maintenance.

Support: The service provider offers customer support (1st line, 2nd line, 3rd line) for all platform-related functional issues. TIE Kinetix offers an especially unique support feature in our standard SLA—proactive support—that provides 24/7 monitoring for all hardware, software, databases, bandwidth, performance, and connectivity of our FLOW platform (a true EDI SaaS offering). You won’t find something like this with most other providers.

As mentioned above, these services reflect true SaaS costs. There are, of course, plenty of other EDI-related tasks that fall outside the scope of a traditional SLA. These responsibilities are most often picked up by internal IT and/or EDI departments—they only need the tools (the EDI SaaS platform) to help them get the job done. If they happen to need help with something else, like trading partner onboarding, they can request additional services as needed, all of which are invoiced separately and do not impact the monthly SaaS fee.

What Are EDI Managed Services?

As opposed to the “as a service” model which implies that only the EDI platform itself is included in the monthly price, fully managed EDI services provide an all-inclusive SaaS experience.

What do we mean by that, exactly? Well, with an EDI managed services contract, you receive everything that’s included in a standard SaaS agreement and a whole lot more. Instead of simply providing you with the tools you need to run EDI operations on your own, your SaaS provider doubles as your EDI department and internal effort is minimal.

With fully managed EDI, service providers take over a broad range of responsibilities that would typically be handled internally (following the initial implementation and setup). Here are a few common instances:

  • Changes in platform configuration or setup
  • Map creation and/or mapping adjustments
  • New trading partner connections
  • Testing and go-live

Managed Services vs. SaaS: Which Is Best?

When it comes to EDI services, there’s no right or wrong answer per se; it varies from one organization to the next. However, when choosing between a standard SaaS subscription and fully managed EDI services, the most important element for any organization to consider is internal capabilities.

If you have a dedicated internal team that is fully capable of managing your EDI operations on a daily basis, a standard SaaS subscription should be more than enough. After all, the service provider will take away the hassle of managing on-premise infrastructure and free up time for your internal team to focus on optimizing document exchange processes and other high-priority IT initiatives. In a situation like this, it wouldn’t make much sense to invest in a fully managed solution.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a dedicated internal team (and don’t plan to hire anyone), fully managed EDI services may be the way to go. Opting for EDI managed services means that you’re basically opting to outsource the entirety of your EDI operations, not only a small part.

However, it’s important to remember that EDI managed services are much more expensive than EDI SaaS solutions. That’s because everything that would be considered a one-off project within a standard SaaS agreement is factored into the monthly price. That being said, it’s important to consider how much extra help you will need when it comes to managing your EDI operations. The extra costs associated with fully managed services may not always be justifiable.