October 21st, 2021
Choosing the right EDI provider is easier said than done. There’s a lot to consider in terms of your company’s current situation—technical infrastructure, in-house expertise, and so on. So while we can’t provide you with the ultimate guide to EDI and an exhaustive list of the best EDI service providers, we can give you a list of all the things you should consider when attempting to make a decision, regardless of if you’re a first-timer or a seasoned veteran.
Remember: The most important thing to do before choosing an EDI provider is a proper evaluation on your company’s level of digital maturity (technology and people), as well as that of your broader ecosystem. Many integration projects fail, so don’t let yours be one of them.
What to Look for in an EDI Provider
As we’ve said, there’s no definitive guide, but here’s a general list that you can use to get started:
1. Cloud-based infrastructure
Cloud-based EDI solutions are the new norm. Unless there’s a strict company policy that says you have to use an on-premise solution, it’s only a matter of time before you’ll end up migrating to the cloud. If you’re just getting started with EDI, make sure to choose an EDI provider whose cloud-based solution is capable of meeting your current and future needs.
2. Flexible and scalable
EDI services should be flexible. Make sure that whatever EDI provider you choose provides a platform that is suitable for both you and all of your trading partners. Furthermore, look for an EDI platform that provides unlimited scalability so that your growth plans aren’t hindered by technology.
3. Full integration capabilities
If you’ve ever struggled with legacy system integration, you know how important this is. If you haven’t had that experience, trust us: Make sure your EDI provider is capable of providing seamless integration with any system, like your internal ERP or external warehouse or 3PL systems.
4. Does more than EDI
For European companies, this is a given. But for companies in the U.S., it’s not always the first thing that comes to mind if you’re looking for an EDI solution or an EDI VAN (which is pretty much going extinct). However, if you’re doing (or plan to do) business internationally and want to be prepared for a wide range of upcoming changes in the U.S. and elsewhere, make sure your “EDI” provider is well-versed in e-invoicing legislation and can provide access to popular exchange networks, like the Peppol network.
5. Security and compliance guarantee
If there’s one thing in the world that you don’t want, it’s being hit by a cyber attack, 80% of which occur via the supply chain. Make sure that your EDI provider can prove that their platform is secure (i.e., ISO 27001 certification). You’ll also want to avoid non-compliance fees, so choose an EDI service provider with plenty of experience in a wide range of areas (again, not just EDI!).
6. Matches in-house capabilities and price point
There are many types of EDI services to choose from, but, in today’s day and age, it pretty much comes down to SaaS vs. fully managed EDI services. SaaS is much more wallet-friendly for companies with an IT team that knows what they’re doing. On the other hand, fully managed services come with a price. But it could be a good option when you can’t support certain technical aspects of EDI internally.
7. Minimal downtime and global support
Cloud-based EDI solutions often come standard with some sort of guarantee when it comes to downtime. But if you can find an EDI service provider that offers additional disaster recovery services to ensure business continuity in virtually any given situation, it’s a big plus. And if the EDI provider also provides 24/7/365 global support, you never have to worry about having to wait around for assistance.
8. End-user focused and personalized
It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not the only one who will be using the EDI platform. Consider the rest of your trading partner ecosystem and make sure to choose an EDI provider with a strong end-user focus. If the EDI platform is easy to use for all that may interact with it (e.g., manual-entry users), business productivity won’t fall short. On top of that, the platform should provide customization options so that your company can easily focus on relevant document exchange data directly from the dashboard; you don’t want to waste your time sorting through all of your data manually.
9. A single platform
Document exchange should be simple. Using multiple platforms to accomplish the same task is inefficient and results in scattered data. No matter your needs, you can’t go wrong with FLOW—our one and only cloud-based platform for EDI, e-invoicing, and everything in between. Check the details here.