Automating Trading Processes with EDI Managed Services
When it comes to EDI, one of the most important decisions a company needs to make is deciding between the self-service or managed service approach. Both options have pros and cons, meaning there is no universally correct answer for which model is better. Determining your company's needs and resources will help your business pick the best option. Keep reading to learn about the differences in EDI managed service providers and understanding the right choice for your company.
Enhance Your EDI With Top-Line Expertise & Support
For most companies that invest in EDI, managed service providers help maximize the return on investment. To get the most out of EDI technology, Cleo supports our customers with our team of in-house experts.
Cleo can also create personalized plans to fit each business’s needs. We offer all three service options for the best outcomes:
1. Managed Services: Cleo fully installs and manages a company’s EDI processes
2. Self-Service: A company’s internal team is responsible for installing and managing EDI processes
3. Self + Managed Services: A combination of our self-service and managed services, offering our customers the greatest flexibility
Before picking an approach, it is helpful to have an in-depth understanding of managed services, the benefits, and potential drawbacks.
What Are EDI Managed Services?
So, what exactly are managed services? EDI managed services are comprehensive packages where providers (like Cleo) typically handle:
● Onboarding trading partners
● Adding or changing maps
● Resolving errors
● System maintenance and updates
Why Do Companies Need EDI Managed Services?
Companies often seek assistance from managed service providers for a few common reasons. The two main ones are a lack of in-house expertise/knowledge and a lack of internal bandwidth.
The Benefits of An EDI Managed Solution
Here are 8 substantial benefits of EDI managed services, beginning with reduced costs.
1. Reduced Costs:
By outsourcing, companies do not have to waste time and money interviewing potential job candidates, onboarding new team members, or paying salaries to an additional internal employee. Further, if the EDI provider uses cloud technology, some companies may be able to avoid investing in physical hardware to get their EDI technology up and running.
2. Less System Downtime:
With 24/7 monitoring, managed service providers continuously assess EDI systems to ensure the technology is running properly. When the system does experience downtime, the service providers are equipped to determine why an issue occurred, determine how to resolve it, and can fix the problem.
3. Quicker Error Resolution:
With a team of experts constantly monitoring EDI processes, errors and SLA issues are flagged and quickly fixed. Say goodbye to missed SLA fees.
4. Improve Order Accuracy:
With increased monitoring, correct installation and mapping, and fewer errors, orders are fulfilled on time and with fewer discrepancies.
5. Faster Onboarding:
Onboarding is a core service of managed service providers. Providers commonly have pre-built templates they can harness to expedite new partner onboarding.
6. More Internal Bandwidth:
Internal team members have more time to work and focus on other pressing assignments since they do not have to manage their company’s EDI system.
7. Expert Collaborators:
With managed services, businesses outsource to a team of experts who work with EDI all day, every day. They know the latest best practices while also possessing extensive historical knowledge and experience in EDI.
8. Increased Customer Satisfaction:
Customer satisfaction increases due to faster onboarding, quicker error resolution, and less system downtime. Greater customer satisfaction results in positive customer reviews, which leads to more potential business.
How EDI Managed Services Function
You may be asking, “How do managed services work if there is not an on-site employee?” That’s where the cloud enters the equation. Managed services are usually conducted entirely through the cloud, removing the need for on-site employees.
Relieving Legacy EDI Problems
While some legacy EDI solutions are still operational, they are not nearly as efficient and feature-rich as modern EDI solutions. Managed services replace legacy solutions with cloud technology to remotely manage EDI processes.
Cloud-Based Communication Solution
EDI managed service providers frequently harness the cloud to deliver services. This method is often more efficient and cheaper than on-premises infrastructure. Using the internet, service providers can fully manage EDI ecosystems, even if they are based halfway around the world.
What to Expect from EDI Managed Services
EDI managed service providers usually tackle a few shared areas and tasks. These include document validation, data mapping, data enrichment, and business logic automation.
Document validation is an automated process that either accepts an EDI file or rejects it due to detecting an error(s). The file will continue to be rejected until the errors are resolved and the file complies with the customer’s SLA guidelines.
Data & Format Mapping
Data mapping refers to the process of converting EDI files into a format that the receiving party’s technology can understand. This enables two companies to communicate with one another automatically and instantaneously.
The Advantages of EDI mapping include:
1. Automation: EDI mapping automatically sends external data to critical internal systems, creating a repeatable process
2. Accuracy: EDI mapping eliminates manual processes, eliminating the risk of user error, and ensuring EDI data is accurately imported into back-end systems
3. Connection: EDI mapping allows for the creation of formats like XML or flat file that can easily be used to communicate EDI data to business trading partners
Data Enrichment: Fill in the Data Blanks
With EDI, database information will be continuously updated as new data appears. This data is usually a combination of internal information and data collected from third parties. The collected data is presented in real-time which gives companies and managed service providers more insight into the business.
Managed service providers can analyze this data to make more strategic and informed decisions, forecast demand, reduce potential errors, and more.
Automated Business Logic to Eliminate Manual Steps
Automation is growing increasingly necessary for businesses in today’s digital world. Automating business logic reduces the need for human intervention, which is often less efficient and more error prone.
Managed service providers can automate business logic, such as accepting/rejecting load tenders (EDI 204), flagging errors in a trading partner’s EDI file, and responding to partners explaining the issues. This is much quicker than having a person sift through copious amounts of information, pinpoint errors, and communicate the issue to the trading partner. With automated business logic installed by a managed service provider, companies experience much higher efficiencies and fewer issues.
Disadvantages of Choosing a 100% EDI Managed Services Provider
As we discussed, there are many benefits to managed service providers. However, not all managed service providers are created equal. Some providers have drawbacks, including lack of control and visibility, testing fees, and quality of service.
Lack of Control & Visibility
Fully managed service providers do not offer self-service capabilities for onboarding or managing integration ecosystems. As a result, service providers completely control communication between a business and its trading partners. Consequently, businesses have limited control and visibility into their trading partner relationships. This can result in an inability to quickly recognize and resolve issues, an extended onboarding period, and subpar customer satisfaction.
Managed services often charge a competitive cost of entry for baseline services. However, companies may run into additional charges. For example, if a company wants to verify a new connection is set up correctly, managed service providers charge a testing fee. Testing fees can add up quickly if there are multiple connections to test. Additionally, testing a new connection every time a new client is onboarded adds up quickly.
Quality of Service
The quality of service provided by managed service providers varies greatly. More businesses are reporting slow support, communication, and action on behalf of EDI managed service providers. This is due to the backlog of customer requests that service providers garner from their other customers.
Delays are another potential issue. For instance, every time a business has a request, they need to submit a ticket that goes to the bottom of a queue. Managed service providers then address the requests in the order they are received. So urgent matters may not be handled for days or weeks later.
EDI Outsourcing Service Options for Every Business Need
Cleo offers three options when it comes to selecting an EDI service approach. Our three main solutions include self-service, managed services, and a blend of self + managed services.
1. Managed Services: Cleo fully installs, manages, and monitors a company’s EDI processes. This is a great option for businesses that have little internal bandwidth, lack in-house expertise regarding EDI, and/or do not want to be ‘in the weeds’ of EDI processes. It also helps ensure smaller companies stay current with rapidly evolving integration technology.
2. Self-Service: A company’s internal team is responsible for all EDI installation, setup, and management. This option is good for companies that have in-house bandwidth and EDI experts, desire the greatest visibility into their EDI processes, and/or want to manage relationships with trading partners.
3. Self + Managed Services: A combination of self-service and managed services, offering customers the greatest flexibility. This option is best for companies that want the convenience of occasional managed services from Cleo but are also capable and willing to undertake some EDI responsibilities themselves.
Mitigating Integration Complexity with the Best of All EDI Managed Services
EDI integration does not have to be daunting. Cleo helps businesses of all sizes, industries, and locations implement EDI technology and integrations daily. We understand that not everyone is an expert in EDI, so we are here to help ensure the process goes smoothly, quickly, and accurately.
One way that Cleo differentiates our B2B EDI integration managed services from competitors is through our blended services option.
Cleo’s Blended EDI Services Approach
Cleo offers self + managed services which is our most flexible package. Customers can work with Cleo to create a custom, blended plan that fits their needs. This is helpful if a company wants to handle certain aspects of their EDI technology but not all areas.
Furthermore, customers can also use the self-service approach but harness Cleo’s managed services on-demand. For example, if a customer receives a large influx of new trading partners and needs help onboarding, they can reach out to Cleo for assistance on the specific project or task at hand.
Industry Leaders Depend on Cleo Integration Cloud for Reliable EDI Solutions
Thousands of leading businesses around the globe trust Cleo Integration Cloud (CIC) to handle their EDI needs, including name brands like Duraflame, New Balance, AT&T, and Burris Logistics. With CIC, companies receive innovative EDI technology, combined with unparalleled support from our in-house experts.
How Cleo Solves Managed EDI Service Shortfalls
While some managed EDI service providers have shortcomings, Cleo addresses these common concerns. Customers can trust Cleo to deliver exceptional service, 24/7.
Control & Visibility
With Cleo’s real-time reporting, customers are never in the dark. Lack of context and end-to-end visibility can mean sifting through transaction logs and trying to link documents together manually. Cleo Integration Cloud provides end-to-end visibility that logically ties together the individual transactions that compose a complete business process. This offers users rich business context and drill-down capabilities across the complete process.
Cleo offers transparent pricing models; meaning there are no surprise fees that start appearing after signing. Additionally, Cleo does not charge customers testing fees like many of our competitors. Since we are the ones setting up the EDI connections with trading partners, we take responsibility for testing and ensuring the connections work properly.
Quality of Service
Servicing clients is what we do best. We deliver fast support, so whether there is a connection error, an SLA issue, a problem with an EDI document, or an entirely different dilemma, our team is always on call to help. Furthermore, Cleo has proven quality assurance processes in place, and a track record of meticulous mapping and translation services to minimize issues.
We also understand lengthy partner onboarding times and EDI installation are common when dealing with managed service providers. However, customers that switch to Cleo’s managed services see a 50% reduction in onboarding time. Cleo works with our customers to forge a true working partnership to provide the highest level of service.
The EDI Managed Services Consensus (Key Takeaways)
EDI managed services are a great option for businesses that do not have the internal expertise or bandwidth to spearhead the tasks. Additionally, managed services can provide numerous benefits including less system downtime, quicker error resolution, improved order accuracy, faster onboarding, and reduced costs.
With Cleo, customers have the options of managed services, self-service, and a blend of the two. Our customers also decide whether to deploy their EDI tools on-premise, in a private cloud, or as hosted managed services. By offering these options, Cleo empowers customers to select the approach that best fits their current business’s needs and positions them for the future.
For more information on Cleo’s 24/7 managed services packages, features, pricing, and more, check out our page here.