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Imagine this scenario, which will sound familiar to many IT professionals at smaller companies: Your company has just closed a huge new account with a major multi-national brand. Everyone is celebrating, but the IT team is sweating. This new customer only places their purchase orders through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) – no exceptions. The sales team has closed the deal, and now it’s up to your IT team to make it happen.

EDI is tricky, even for experienced and talented IT teams. EDI requires a particular expertise. You have to understand exactly how EDI transmission works, how data is segmented, and how to disperse this data properly throughout your system. If anything goes wrong along the way, your customers’ orders will not be placed properly. That can lead to lost revenue and unhappy customers. And suddenly, things aren’t looking so rosy with that big new account everyone was just celebrating.

The challenges of EDI are particularly acute for smaller companies. Most smaller manufacturers and distributors don’t have an IT staff that is large enough to develop a high level of proficiency with EDI. You’re too busy managing dozens of other IT systems that are just as critical to your business. And when it comes to EDI, the work has only just begun once the system is set up. You have to stay current with changing protocols, AS2, and source data from other systems – including customers’ systems that are outside your control.

You might expect to get the support you need from your EDI software vendor, but unfortunately, that’s often not the case. It’s not that EDI vendors are bad at customer service. It’s just that they aren’t used to working with smaller companies. Most of their customers are huge, and it’s difficult for them to “scale down” their support.

This is where EDI managed services can be helpful. Even if you handle every other IT function in-house, many smaller businesses find it practical to outsource EDI. It is far more efficient for a managed services provider with extensive EDI experience to set up and manage the system.

EDI outsourcing also offers another crucial benefit. Your managed service provider can host the EDI system on your behalf. This approach lets you avoid making a huge capital investment for just one or two customers.

So how do you choose the right EDI managed services partner? You need an IT firm with extensive EDI experience. They should be able to provide references from clients that are similar in size to your business. It’s also important that their team is deep enough. They need more than one EDI person on staff so that your needs are always covered.

BDK has been an EDI managed services partner for manufacturers and distributors for many years. If your IT team needs help with EDI, we’d love to talk. Contact us and we’ll schedule some time to discuss!

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