Rebuilding an electronic data exchange (EDI)

Automating ordering processes and ensuring reliability

In rebuilding an electronic data exchange, we integrated business systems and automated tasks for a high-end beverage distributor. 4mation ensured efficiency in processing orders so that our client could serve their customers better.

Sometimes clients wish to remain anonymous due to confidentiality or company policy. Our client was happy for us to write an anonymous case study.

The story

When you have multiple business units and need integration between systems, you need an electronic data exchange that automates this process. We helped automate an EDI system that was error-prone and unreliable, giving time back to our client’s staff.

The information exchanged between the ordering system, EDI and the distribution management system was inefficient and had poor logging. When problems did occur, they took an unreasonable amount of time to identify and resolve.

The challenge

The client’s existing EDI system was created to automate sending orders to the distributor management system. When an order came through, staff would create the order in their accounting system, download an excel sheet and email it to their distribution management system. If that person were busy or away, orders would bottleneck, and customers would receive late shipments.

Staff also had to check stock availability before confirming an order. This time-consuming and inefficient process caused manual-handling errors and inconsistency, such as unfulfillable orders, cancellations and higher operational costs.

Using excel for orders

The new electronic data exchange system

The best way to tackle this challenge was by rebuilding the system entirely – by firstly looking at the data that required transformation within the two systems in order to automate the work.

Planning was vital in figuring out how the two systems talked to each other and what needed to change. We confirmed the field mapping and data transformation logic by mapping the data points between the two systems.

We utilised modern technology stacks with no legacy dependencies or architecture to enable future scalability. By integrating the accounting system’s API, we removed the need to export and import excel spreadsheets. 

We also automated the data transfer to occur every hour. To reduce costs, we enabled the automation to only occur during working hours (7 am and 7 pm, seven days a week).

Synchronising the SKU (stock keeping unit) within the two systems meant the EDI would warn users of insufficient stock levels. The EDI system now passes orders straight to the distribution system because the EDI system is smart enough to know whether the order can be fulfilled at current stock levels. 

Comprehensive logging and monitoring systems enable rapid troubleshooting in the unlikely event of the EDI failing. This enhanced logging also monitors API’s for failures and alerts our developers in real-time. 

The result

Our new EDI system has removed key-person dependency, orders bottlenecking, and manual effort by processing orders automatically every hour. Our client has greater stock visibility to process orders confidently. Plus, we’ve freed up hours of their time each week, giving them the ability to focus more time on their customers. 

Troubleshooting is also faster because our monitoring systems provide greater autonomy to the client to fix problems. Ultimately the new EDI system is more reliable and efficient, enabling our client to scale.

Our client wishes to remain anonymous for this case study due to company policy. If you have any further questions about our work building an EDI system, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Electronic data exchange - seamless integration

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