4 Smart Questions to Ask a B2B EDI Integration Provider

Published on 10 August 2023

Generix Team
Generix Team

Electronic data interchange or EDI has long been embedded in the business processes of many companies. The key benefits of EDI include streamlined communications within the enterprise and among your trading partners as well as its many operational efficiencies such as reduced errors and cost savings.

For good reason, B2B ecosystem integration on EDI-based platforms—and especially solutions that are delivered in a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) model—have become a preferred standard in recent years. Depending on the provider you choose, these platforms provide all the efficiencies of EDI without having to find and train EDI specialists required with proprietary in-house solutions, VANs (value-added networks) or EDI translator software.
Another reason to stick with a true B2B EDI integration provider? Relying on EDI integrations from your ERP software provider or other core B2B solution providers can be costly and time consuming, often requiring custom integrations.
When vetting a B2B EDI services provider, here are a few recommended questions to ask:
1.      What are the capabilities of the platform?

It’s a simple question but you may get many answers depending on the B2B ecosystem integration provider. When reviewing and comparing provider capabilities, one approach is to first have a good understanding of your business challenges, current level of automation, and what data is required by your current core systems such as ERP and accounting systems. You can then prioritize what’s most important and use the information to review providers based on their ability to meet your business requirements. What’s currently working well among your business processes and connectivity requirements? What isn’t?

Modern B2B integration requires modern capabilities including any-to-any data mapping, advanced communications, and connectivity such as API (application programming interface) integration. An EDI B2B integration provider needs to support any data standard or formats and comply across many types of communication protocols. The provider also should easily make backend integrations to most kinds of enterprise systems, whether ERP, WMS, CRM, e-commerce, etc.), using APIs, certified connectors or other integration methods.

2.      What is your experience in various industries and pre-established connections with companies?    

This question is a smart way to get answers about the provider’s experience within not only your industry or business sector but also in the context of the business connections and level of community management that is required today for B2B EDI integrations. For example, and a manufacturer, whether a CPG or food and beverage producer, may do business with retailers, grocers and distributors, or participate in other sectors such as automotive, industrial or medical.

Look at your B2B ecosystem and ask the EDI provider for more information on their industries served, including the types of companies in which they already have connections or pre-mapped relationships. A good candidate will already have built-in intelligence about your key trading partners.

During your selection process of an EDI partner, the provider should supply you with more information about their trading community and customer base. How many are in their community of connected businesses and in what sectors? Are the names of your key trading partners included in those lists?  

Remember, a good B2B EDI integration provider will meet the technical requirements of your industry sectors and have many existing connections with your trading partners already.

3.      What are your service offerings that augment the B2B EDI integration platform?

A comprehensive EDI service provider should have the obvious offerings to augment their integration platform such as onboarding, a collaborative portal, API management, and complementary solutions such as AP automation, e-invoicing and VMI (vendor managed inventory).

At a high level, these services typically provide the benefits of a single integration point, potential visibility into a transaction type, regardless of delivery mechanism (EDI, portal, etc.) with a single view, while reducing siloed applications and multiple EDI solutions or related vendors.

Onboarding is the act of taking a trading partner, testing them, and readying them for production. Onboarding programs or processes are essential to supplier-facing programs and mostly consists of repetitive processes to ensure the correct electronic connections are made so two companies can do business with each other. Testing portals are often used for this repeatable process. 
The ability for an EDI provider to be able to offer onboarding as a service (and do it efficiently) is a key consideration for retailers, among other industries. Large retailers have a huge supplier turnover every year, sometimes as high as 20 percent, which could mean a turnover of hundreds of suppliers per year.

4.      Is your company continuing to invest in the B2B EDI integration platform?

No B2B EDI platforms should be run as a static solution today. Innovation and ongoing investment to continuously improve the platform’s capabilities are expected, whether involving the user interface or the capabilities and reach of the solution. In addition to learning more about current technologies that are enabled on the platform, ask the provider about their investment in and commitment to improve and innovate the solution.

A modern B2B EDI provider will already be using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and APIs but should be advancing their uses of these evolving technologies. AI and machine learning, for example, help improve data accuracy and recognize patterns over time to support intelligent workflow and overall work to improve supply chain management processes.

Why is API technology important? APIs facilitate the flow of information and actual real-time exchange of data. APIs provide select system functions that can be accessed and used by other applications, such as the transfer of information between ERP systems. API technology can be used to onboard smaller trading partners who don’t have the EDI infrastructure required to do business with another company, allowing tasks such as logging in to track the status of their order.

While these recommended questions are only a starting point, they will help you start the complex process of reviewing B2B EDI ecosystem providers and allow you to zero in on the right provider.
The Generix EDI SaaS solution processes millions of business messages per day across a  community of over 40,000 connected businesses. Our B2B EDI integration platform and EDI Services are used in more than 40 countries worldwide by many leading companies. For more on our EDI solutions, download our guide.

About Generix Group North America

At Generix Group North America, we provide a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across your entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none.

We invite you to contact us to learn more

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