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Choosing the right EDI VAN (Electronic Data Interchange Value-added Network) for your business is the difference between a successful relationship with trading partners and a relationship filled with confusion and headache. This task may seem challenging, especially if your company is newly required to implement EDI. It doesn’t have to be. Focusing on the four biggest advantages in outsourcing your EDI service to a VAN will help ease the selection.
Connecting the dots between the different needs of different trading partners is perhaps the most intimidating part of implementing EDI. AS2, FTP, ASC X12, SFTP, and the list of protocols, standards, and the many other acronyms go on and on. To add to the confusion, the needs of each trading partner varies and needs evolve. However, this is common everyday language to EDI VANs, and when outsourcing your EDI service, they do the understanding for you. Your new EDI VAN should make integration a straightforward and seamless process, one that is transparent.
Once your documents and data transfer through the Electronic Data Interchange, your provider should provide a platform enabling you to see both inbound and outbound data. Also, the ability to retain necessary documents after they are transferred is essential in managing your data. Moreover, this access to your data should be simple to utilize.
The customer service offered by your new EDI Value Added Network should match the needs of your business. Are the service hours advantageous for when you would likely need them? What if you have a critical problem outside of those hours? Is a solution for this scenario provided? Service should be available and accessible. Response time should be timely. Most importantly, the service offered by your EDI VAN should solve the problem.
If the integration is the most intimidating aspect of implementing EDI, making sure your EDI VAN meets your budget may be the most important. Factoring the set-up costs into your budget is key when getting started. Do you need both hardware and software to get started or does the EDI VAN operate from the cloud? Is there a fee for the integration process?
And, knowing the way VANs generate your fees every month will help you create a realistic budget for an EDI VAN.
Monthly Fees: Amount of Data or Number of Trading Partners
Most EDI VANs charge based on the amount of data you are moving: kilo character pricing. Depending on the EDI configuration of your trading partners are, this can bring a highly variable monthly bill. However, trading partner based pricing is now available offering unlimited data to their clients creating a predictable monthly budget.