When I talk to IT customers today, it is clear that they have to continue to “do more, with less” and squeeze value out of every penny. Not only can they not throw around the checkbook with reckless abandon, but they also have to be extremely careful that the checks they do write are going to good use. When it comes to EDI and integration, I’ve found that IT needs to avoid 3 kinds of boneheaded expenditures in particular:
I’ve seen enough dumb EDI integration expenditures (and made enough of them, in my day) to be able to tell you the six boneheaded checks that IT departments everywhere should just stop writing:
MFT is great for securely transferring data from one point to another, but it's just one piece of a multi-step process. Since it's a stand-alone commodity, it can't handle a complete file transfer from end to end. Once MFT software is configured, it has to be integrated with other applications - you don't just magically send a file from one location to another. After you send or receive a file, what's the next step? Are you transforming the contents to a different format? Or are you importing them into a database or application? Integrating multiple applications in order to perform file transfers is time consuming and complicated. MFT capability is included within any respectable EDI integration solution and should not be purchased as a separate, standalone application.
Eclipse-based integration platforms aren't our favorite. In fact, we'd rather eat hot coals than use them. Eclipse-based software solutions are similar to MFT in the sense that they’re designed specifically for IT developers to use, and take forever to test. So companies who buy eclipse-based software end up depending on third-party solutions to complete a project. To add insult to injury, eclipse-based software does not enable collaboration. So in a nutshell, it’s a waste of time and money you'd be foolish to write a check for it.
EDI software is a bad IT investment because it only works with EDI standards, meaning it doesn't process other data formats. It's not flexible, scalable, and can't integrate with back-end applications. Without end-to-end automation, you lose visibility and jeopardize quality, since data has to be manually entered.
Value-added anything usually sounds good, but that's not necessarily the case with value-added network services. You don't want to write this check because the value-adds in EDI VANs can come at an even bigger added cost. During a company’s growth stage, scaling a trading partner network can add up quickly. What's more, it's difficult to securely control trading partner relationships - or at least not as securely as you need to, which is important because these relationships are the drivers behind your success.
If you're writing a check to outsource your data integration, costs could also add up quickly. For starters, you'll have to pay someone else to create custom code for you. As if coding wasn't hard enough, companies that outsource this process also have to relinquish upkeep responsibility to the developers who created it - and transparency in the entire process suffers as a result.
Speaking of which, the entire custom coding process takes close to forever if you're having someone else do it for you. In today’s fast-paced business environment, a project that takes several weeks seems like an eternity. Think about it: You have to maintain operational functionality while testing and retesting, which doesn't account for any kinks in the chain you may have to work out. When it's all said and done, you could be paying more than $100,000 for something you could have avoided altogether if you had partnered with the right data integration vendor.
If you've paid someone to perform your data integration, you're likely going to have to cut a check to a development team to onboard customer information as well. In addition to the heavy fee you'll have to pay someone else to onboard your customers' data, the process takes a really, really long time. Not only that, it's a pain in the rear to figure out how you want that data on-boarded. Will it be via FTP? Email? Or a Web service?
When it comes to EDI Integration, you don’t want IT writing any boneheaded checks for solutions that aren’t ultimately cost-effective (or are just plain ineffective). Be wise and take the time to research and find the EDI integration solution that delivers the ROI and scalability you need. You'll end up saving your company a heck of a lot of time and money in the long run.