The Best Strategy for Identifying EDI and B2B Integration Issues
and Automating Error Resolution

Intro to Integration Issues and Error Resolution 

 

EDI technology has evolved tremendously from when it first hit the supply chain market in the 1960s. While the reason for companies implementing EDI technology has largely remained the same, the features, efficiency, visibility, and more have vastly improved. 

As EDI technology continues to advance, companies are realizing their current B2B integration strategies are becoming outdated and hindering their performance. With new and increasing demands from trading partners, businesses are now in need of state-of-the-art technology to provide the best service possible. However, even though companies are cognizant that they may need to upgrade their EDI technology, they have valid concerns about switching providers. We will dive into these concerns later on.

The main reason companies are looking to make the switch to more advanced and efficient EDI technology is due to the rapid digital transformation that is happening around the globe. The eCommerce boom, along with customers’ increasingly high expectations for omnichannel fulfillment, highlight the shortcomings of traditional EDI solutions. A common complaint businesses have with their EDI technology is the number of errors their current systems produce. The majority of these errors could be prevented with better EDI solutions.

Top companies are now making error resolution a non-negotiable when shopping for new EDI and B2B integration solutions. This is because issues and errors in EDI technology can negatively impact a company's relationship with trading partners and their business. In this guide, we will call attention to today’s available technology and illuminate the current possibilities. Furthermore, we will help you identify what to look for when your company is researching and selecting a new integration platform.

Before deciding what technological solution your company should invest in, it will be highly beneficial to understand why these problems are occurring in the first place. Otherwise, your company may implement a new EDI system, only to find out that the new system does not address your concerns or demands. Therefore, we will first examine some of the most common root causes of integration errors. Afterward, we will explore how an ecosystem integration strategy and single-platform solution can help companies in logistics, manufacturing, distribution, retail, and other industries overcome them. 

Continue reading to learn more about identifying EDI and B2B integration Issues and automating error resolution.

Business Issues Caused by Not Solving the Technology Problem

 

Ignoring or not fixing a problem completely, usually results in more issues arising. This is especially true in the technology sector, as technology is linked to various processes, operations, systems, and platforms. That is why it is vital for companies to quickly address and solve any errors that appear, including ones in the realm of EDI and B2B integration.

 

5 Problems and Pitfalls of Out-of-Control Integration Errors

Out-of-control integration errors lead to problems. These problems can originate from a company’s trading partners, its technology, or its own company. Either way, the business impact can be severe. Common problems include:

1. Lost Revenue

The central goal for most businesses is to make money. Integration errors can and will eat into a company’s profits. This can be attributed to a few reasons. The first is that the errors can halt a business’ operations. If operations stop, that means the company is not going to get paid since it is no longer providing goods or services. 

Another reason is that the errors may lead to incorrect data or information being transferred, thus producing incorrect services or product orders. This will incur wasted shipping and/or production costs. With eCommerce already creating slimmer profit margins, losing revenue because of integration errors can severely damage a business. 

2. Damaged Relationships

Integration errors put a strain on business relationships because they impact trading partners. This could be because the errors result in trading partners receiving delayed products or services, slower response times, incorrect deliveries or services, etc. Once a business relationship is tarnished, it is much harder to earn back their trust; especially if the errors occur regularly. It is always best to be proactive against integration errors to avoid tarnishing professional relationships. 

3. Chargebacks and Fees

Nobody likes fees. Integration errors often lead to chargebacks and fees though. EDI chargebacks are financial penalties for non-compliance with your trading partner’s contractual requirements. Trading partners issue EDI chargebacks because of vendor non-compliance with agreed-upon elements of the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Because vendor non-compliance disrupts operations and creates additional expenses for the trading partner, the customer offsets those additional costs by issuing EDI chargebacks to the vendor. For example, if a company is late with a delivery, packages are incorrectly labeled, or a shipment is damaged or incomplete, the company will likely receive an EDI chargeback.

These chargebacks and fees add up. According to a survey asking companies how much annual revenue was lost in 2020 due to EDI non-compliance, 54% of respondents said they lost more than $100,000, while 10% claiming they lost $1 million or more. Lost revenue due to EDI non-compliance is increasing, as companies across the board lost more revenue in 2020 than in 2019. 

4. Lost and Wasted Time

As digitalization and eCommerce experience tremendous growth, business is being conducted at unprecedented speeds. In a world where efficiency reigns supreme, integration errors cause companies to lose and waste time since they will not be operating, or will be providing incorrect products or services. Lost time cuts into a company’s revenue since they cannot charge customers for the lost or wasted time. Lost and wasted time can also lead to chargebacks and fees since the correct services will not be delivered on time, which in return will also lead to damaged relationships with a company’s trading partners. 

5. Eligibility Preferences

Similar to damaged relationships, businesses can also lose eligibility preferences with their trading partners. Eligibility preferences can take form in a few different ways. For example, a company may be disqualified from being an Amazon Prime partner if its integration errors are disrupting Amazon’s business. Additionally, integration errors could result in a company having its status demoted in a partner’s ecosystem due to unreliability.

The impacts of integration errors expand past these five common outcomes. That’s why companies need a business process-driven approach and a platform that can blend traditional and modern technology to accommodate every integration scenario. Otherwise, integration errors will persist and the slow resolution times will put a company’s business at risk.

5 Features to Look for in a Solution

 

Now that we’ve covered integration errors and the issues that can stem from them, we can move on to discussing some of the available solutions. As previously mentioned, the best solutions currently available are ecosystem integration platforms. However, not all platforms are created equal, with some offering much more innovative and feature-rich solutions. 

When it comes to researching solutions and ecosystem integration platforms, the five key features to look for include:

● Persona-based dashboards

● Ability to pinpoint specific issues (track and search)

● Direct collaboration (share tickets with ecosystem partners and/or internally)

● Auditability (time stamps)

● SLA management

We explore each feature in greater depth below.

 

1 . Persona-Based Dashboards

Dashboards are an extremely helpful reporting tool that gather key data in a central location for quick analysis. Dashboards are great for all levels of employees in an organization since it helps team members across different functions to get a quick snapshot of critical information in a format that’s meaningful to them. However, the same information is not relevant to all employees. Dashboards that share the same information with everyone require each user to search for the information they need, defeating the purpose of the quick analysis. 

Persona-based dashboards have addressed this issue. Persona-based dashboards allow users to build custom dashboard displays for each employee level, department, or individual. For example, a company’s marketing team will need to look at different data than the solutions architect team. The company can then create custom dashboards for each department so the aggregated data applies to the respective teams. 

2. Pinpointing Specific Issues

Having an ecosystem integration platform that notifies users when there is an error is essential. So is being able to pinpoint where in the platform or process the issue is occurring. After all, what good is knowing there is an error if you do not know where it is happening or how to find it? That would make it highly difficult to solve the error.

That is why being able to pinpoint the location of an error is critical. Platforms with pinpointing abilities offer solutions to this issue. Some will notify users exactly where an error is occurring and why. Additionally, some platforms also provide users the ability to track errors, as well as search and monitor for errors. This provides users with in-depth visibility into the EDI transaction processes, as well as greater control over timelines and operations.

3. Direct Collaboration

Collaboration is a key aspect of business. Since ecosystem integration platforms interact with internal and external parties, collaboration abilities should be built into the system. Being able to liaise directly with customers and partners within an ecosystem integration platform helps organize all communication activity in a central location. For example, direct collaboration allows a company to share tickets with an ecosystem partner or internally. This keeps all relevant information together, making it easier to keep track of responses. 

4. Auditability

Another aspect to look for in an ecosystem integration platform is auditability. Auditability is the ability to capture and view the chronological record of a transaction or process, which may include the communication, time stamps, payment method, and other pertinent details. This is essential for companies because it creates an organized ledger and digital paper trail of vital information. Companies can use the auditability as a source of truth since the platform will keep an accurate historical record of all events, actions, and details of transactions.

5. SLA Management

SLAs (service level agreements) are essentially written contracts that codify the mutual expectations in a business partner relationship. They also define metrics by which service is measured and spell out penalties for under-performance. Generally speaking, the reason SLAs are important is because of the information they contain—essentially the agreed-upon terms that set the parameters of a business relationship. SLAs are unique to every relationship and can be quite different from one industry to another. 

SLAs are ‘living’ documents, meaning the agreements change. The involved parties need to meet project requirements as defined under the terms of the agreement. So what is SLA management? SLA management involves regularly revisiting and updating the SLA depending on evolving circumstances. Additionally, it means ensuring all provided services stipulated in the underlying contract are in alignment. 

Having SLA management within an ecosystem integration platform keeps all agreements in a central location. This makes it easier for users to search and find the SLAs for each business partner. SLA management also helps companies automate, track, and measure the digital processes that key relationships depend on. That might mean ensuring billing processes work as expected and that the specifications of the system are clear, or it may be agreeing on how support tickets are prioritized.

Modern, innovative ecosystem integration platforms can accommodate all these capabilities and more in a single platform. Hence why they are rapidly becoming a core resource in managing entire ecosystems and accelerating commerce in the era of cloud and digital business. Moreso, ecosystem integration platforms are proving exceedingly helpful in identifying issues and resolving errors in real-time. The financial and functional value that an all-encompassing ecosystem integration platform provides cannot be overstated. 

Benefits of Technical Integration Capabilities

 

Back in section three, we covered some of the business problems companies experience with technical integration capabilities. As a reminder, they are:

● Lost Revenue

● Damaged Relationships

● Chargebacks and Fees

● Lost and Wasted Time

● Losing Eligibility Preferences 

These are major problems that can fully disrupt not only your business but your trading partners' businesses, as well as be damaging to valuable relationships. Disrupting your business is never good, but disrupting trading partners' businesses is a surefire way to ruin their trust, put future business at risk, and lose out on supportive word-of-mouth recommendations and positive reviews. To avoid these issues and outcomes, let’s explore how the technical integration capabilities can help companies overcome and avoid these business problems.

 

Time Savings

Fixing and preventing issues saves time for most stakeholders in an EDI transaction. Fixing issues saves time for a multitude of reasons. One example is that errors can simply slow or halt an entire business process. This impacts the company, an employee, and trading partners. Another reason is that if the incorrect products or services are provided to a trading partner due to an error in the platform, the company then has to redo the order. This equates to wasted time and resources. 

There’s also the aspect that fixing errors takes time. An ecosystem integration platform that tells users where and what the issue is makes solving it much quicker. This is because the user will not have to root around the entire platform to figure out where and why the process is being interrupted. Additionally, a platform with fewer errors overall creates more time for employees to focus on other tasks. So instead of constantly working on fixing and maintaining errors, they can put their energy elsewhere.  

 

Stronger Ecosystem

One of the benefits of an ecosystem integration platform is having a central, well-connected hub that connects all business processes and systems involved. This allows companies to swiftly respond to supply chain errors, disturbances, trading partners, and market opportunities such as increased e-commerce buying and fulfillment.

So instead of having to log in to multiple platforms to monitor performance, communicate with stakeholders, assess analytics, resolve errors, etc., companies can implement an ecosystem Integration platform that allows them to operate out of one space. The connectivity of ecosystem integration platforms offers convenience, boosts efficiency, streamlines processes, and creates a united ecosystem.  

 

Better Relationships

A vendor scorecard is a critical tool that trading partners use to track and rate a company’s performance. The scorecards essentially grade companies in an assortment of areas. For example, companies may be graded on responsiveness, quality of product or service, on-time delivery, and acknowledgment rate. Ultimately a better scorecard leads to better relationships between companies and their trading partners. 

Ecosystem integration platforms help companies maintain and improve their scorecard ratings in a few ways. First off, since errors are less likely to occur when utilizing an ecosystem integration platform, companies are more likely to deliver accurate products and services on time. Additionally, any errors that do occur will likely be resolved faster, since ecosystem integration platforms notify users when and where the issue is happening. Both scenarios reduce platform downtime which keeps business on schedule. 

Moreso, ecosystem integration platforms improve response times since all trading partner communication flows through them. This simplifies communication by ensuring companies have a central location for sending and receiving messages. Lastly, it decreases the likelihood that a company misses a message or does not see a message for an extended period of time. Overall, an ecosystem integration platform is a great asset for improving trading partner relationships. 

 

Make Money

Businesses aim to make money, and the more money they make, the better. There are many reasons why implementing an ecosystem integration platform can increase a company’s revenue.

One reason is that fewer errors are occurring. Fewer errors generally equates to less platform downtime, which means the company is operating efficiently. Also, errors are oftentimes fixed quicker since the platform notifies users in real time and pinpoints where the issue is occurring, unlike other platforms that simply send an error notification and provide limited details. Furthermore, with faster response times, companies can secure more orders quicker. There is also the fact that ecosystem integration platforms boost overall efficiency and can improve vendor scorecards, which will help companies earn more business.

 

Better Visibility

Visibility into business processes and data is essential for modern companies. Having the ability to explore processes allows companies to better monitor and manage operations. So if there is an error in one step in the process, companies can explore what is going on in greater depth, aiding them in resolving the issue quicker and preventing it from happening again. 

Having visibility into data and metrics is also vital for businesses nowadays. This allows companies to monitor, analyze, and report on performance. The findings can then be used to improve and optimize the platform, processes, and services. 

 

Greater Control Through Self-Service

Control over integration processes is essential for keeping businesses on track toward hitting specific goals and targets. Ecosystem integration platforms give control back to businesses by empowering them through a self-service approach. 

Instead of having to rely on managed service providers, ecosystem integration platforms make it easier than ever for companies to implement a self-service approach. Companies can manage the entire platform and processes themselves with ease due to innovative features. Some features may include visibility and access to data and processes, error/issue notifications, centralizing communication, simplifying onboarding, pre-configured templates, prebuilt partner maps, and customizable business logic.

With an ecosystem integration platform, companies do not have to outsource to external parties for managed services. Instead, companies are in the pilot seat and can have greater control over timelines, error resolution, SLA compliance, and more. Improving these areas leads to greater efficiency and better relationships with trading partners. 

 

Identify and Troubleshoot Problems Yourself

Troubleshooting problems externally is not always the most efficient process. This is because error resolution usually involves creating a ticket, submitting it to the external party, and waiting for the ticket to reach the top of the queue. There can be countless other tickets submitted before your request, which means it may take days or weeks for the item to be addressed and resolved. 

That is why troubleshooting problems internally is oftentimes a better option. Ecosystem integration platforms can notify users if an issue arises, highlight what the issue is, and empower the user to fix the error themselves. The benefits include saving money by not having to outsource, avoiding waiting in a ticket queue, and decreasing error downtime.

 

As you can see, ecosystem integration platforms are essential for reducing the number of integration errors. The benefits that come from minimizing integration errors are abundant, as it saves time, improves business relationships, increases revenue, offers greater insight and control, and empowers companies. 

Cleo Integration Cloud: Our Innovative and Advanced Solution

 

Now that we know what the benefits are of using available ecosystem integration systems to minimize and solve errors, you may be wondering what platforms are actually on the market. The leading ecosystem integration platform that features advanced and intuitive issue and error resolution is Cleo Integration Cloud (CIC).

 

Our Solution: Cleo Integration Cloud 

Nothing jeopardizes customer, supplier, and trading partner interactions like poor exception management. Exception management is a proactive response to adjust supply chain steps when the supply chain is delayed or impacted. Exception management helps ensure SLAs are met even with an impacted supply chain. 

Thankfully, the Cleo Integration Cloud Platform has all the capabilities your company needs for rapid issue resolution, bringing an added layer of security to your business. Cleo gives you the power to proactively address any EDI services or application issue, all while ensuring critical SLAs are always met.

 

“Our costs and efficiencies have resulted in an average ROI of $5,000 a month, and having direct access to the map and communication means we spend less time troubleshooting EDI issues. Client satisfaction has also increased, as there are fewer problems with our in-house EDI connections, and our time to resolve and respond to our customers when issues arise has decreased by at least 60 percent,” said Terri Sandine, Manager of Application Development for Mohawk Global Logistics.

Read the full case study

 

With Cleo, you get an immediate window into how each of your partners is impacting your business. CIC will help you and your team by:

● Revealing and notifying users when and where there is an error or issue within a transaction. This helps your team quickly pinpoint the area of concern so they can swiftly resolve the situation. 

● Flagging, tracking, and searching issues by a specific partner or issue ID. Cleo makes it easy to track issues with real-time alerts, so you always know the status and progress of issues you care about...or collaborate directly to escalate or resolve support cases a lot faster.

● Uncovering actionable business insights by seeing where and when issues occur. This pinpoints the exact source of the problem, so you can immediately assess the impact on revenue and inventory. 

● Eliminating blind spots that could lead to miscommunications or slowdowns. 

● Increasing agility and control by resending and reprocessing messages, while improving visibility by sharing tickets with any team members or ecosystem partners. 

All these error resolution benefits from CIC will help your company reduce errors and the length of time it takes to fix them. In return, this will also reduce and minimize lost revenue, damaged relationships, chargebacks and fees, lost and wasted time, and losing eligibility preferences. 

 

How Does Error Resolution Work with CIC Cockpit with RADAR?

CIC proactively addresses and mitigates error resolution which is crucial for businesses of all sizes and industries. But how does it work exactly? We explore the platform in more depth below, highlighting common error examples and how CIC helps resolve them. 

 

Exploring CIC Cockpit with RADAR

When a user logs into CIC Cockpit with RADAR, they will first be presented with an overview dashboard of every document and integration flow going through CIC. Users can visually manage purchase orders, advanced ship notices, acknowledgments, and any issues regarding B2B transactions. 

When a user clicks on the messages tab, it will bring up all the individual messages being managed by CIC. Then users can select a specific message to see the full chain of business processes, from the purchase order to remittance advice. CIC Cockpit accumulates the individual transactions of your business process and presents them in a single and easy-to-view format. When looking at the messages between your company and a trading partner, CIC will highlight which step in the process an error occurred. 

 

Setting Up SLA Notifications

Users can mitigate SLA compliance failures by easily setting up custom parameters and notifications. Users simply have to go into the platform and select the trading partner that they want to create in-platform notifications for. Once they select the trading partner, they can select the SLA button which will prompt the user with a few steps including:

● Selecting the document type you expect to receive

● Selecting the document type you expect to send

● Inputting how long your company has to respond to the trading partner until the SLA is violated 

● Selecting if you want to be notified of at-risk SLAs

The last bullet point is a standout feature in CIC Cockpit with RADAR. Selecting to be notified of at-risk SLAs allows users to proactively remedy issues and errors before an SLA is missed. For example, a company can set up in-platform notifications to be sent when an SLA is in jeopardy of being violated. This allows companies to fix the error before the SLA is missed, ensuring both parties are happy.

Additionally, individual users can receive real-time email notifications of both SLA violations and at-risk SLA violations. All users have to do is go to their profile and perform a few simple clicks. Once completed, users will receive email notifications with specific details. The email will link directly to the CIC Cockpit for quick error resolution.

As demonstrated, it only takes a few simple steps to set up alerts and notifications. This single feature within CIC Cockpit with RADAR can have a tremendously positive impact on companies, as it helps ensure your team never misses an SLA. 

CIC Cockpit with RADAR was built with visibility at the forefront. Users need to be able to quickly find and review key pieces of data so they can monitor performance. The notification system helps companies reduce expensive fees from SLA violations, maintain and improve their vendor scorecards and relationships by flagging issues instantaneously, and minimizes system downtime. RADAR provides even greater control and visibility to your business. 

 

CIC Cockpit with Radar vs Competitors

Cleo takes great pride in our proactive error notifications and visibility. It is also one of the main differentiators between CIC and other EDI providers. Most EDI providers do not offer the same level of visibility into errors nor do they offer custom notification creation. 

 

Competitors

Issue and error resolution is a key component of a successful ecosystem integration system. Without solid features to address errors in the platform, companies will experience a slew of negative consequences that will impact their business and their trading partners’ businesses. 

When looking at some solutions from Cleo competitors, you will notice that all issue and error notifications are not created equally. For example, some providers only produce alerts if an SLA is missed. Notifying users of an error after an SLA is missed is not the most helpful. This is because it is too late to remedy the situation before an SLA is violated. Therefore negatively impacting the business' vendor scorecard. 

Additionally, other platforms may only offer in-platform notifications and do not provide the option for email alerts. This is not ideal because it requires a user to be in the platform to recognize an issue. Users are likely not waiting in the platform for an error to arise, but rather completing other job responsibilities that are performed in various other platforms, websites, etc. A user will not see these in-platform notifications until they log in or check the platform which will likely lead to missed SLAs.

Lastly, most ecosystem integration platforms on the market do not pinpoint where an error is occurring. So if a platform informs a user there is an error, the user has to hunt down where in the transaction or process the error transpired. This wastes critical time where the user could be fixing the error before the SLA is missed.

 

““Steel Technologies gained the EDI solution we’ve been wanting for a long time. It’s a secure, end-to-end solution that provides automation, data orchestration, and file movement on a single platform. We’re no longer in the dark on reporting and audit trail capabilities, and proactive alerts and notifications will help us better serve our customers.” said Mike Hoben, Senior Software Engineer, at Steel Technologies.

Read the full case study

 

CIC Cockpit with Radar

With CIC, users can create custom alerts for each individual trading partner. Since each trading partner will have a different SLA, setting custom alerts allows for a personalized and detailed system of managing all SLA orders. Users are able to customize alerts based on…

● How long a company has to respond to the trading partner until the SLA is violated 

● Selecting if users should be notified of at-risk SLAs—meaning an alert will be sent out when an SLA is in jeopardy of being missed

● Setting of email notifications for missed and at-risk SLAs

Allowing users to implement notifications for at-risk SLAs is crucial for businesses. Furthermore, pairing at-risk SLA notifications with email notifications is an essential tool in ensuring that SLAs are never missed. Combining these two features helps businesses address many of the key issues they face with B2B integrations and EDI transactions. This includes helping companies maintain good relationships with trading partners and increasing revenue due to fewer missed SLAs. Additionally, errors are fixed more quickly since users are notified of issues in real-time and are informed where the errors are occurring in the processes. 

CIC Cockpit with Radar has key advantages over competitors. The ability to create custom notifications gives your company control over EDI transactions so you can capture as much revenue as possible while maintaining great relationships with business partners.

 

Key Takeaways

 

Cleo understands the vitality of issue and error resolution for companies within the EDI space. That is why we built an ecosystem integration platform that proactively identifies and notifies users when and where an issue occurred. This enables businesses to resolve issues before they impact a transaction and compromise SLAs. For a brief visual overview of Cleo’s rapid issue resolution, watch our video here

There are key takeaways to remember. These include common business problems companies experience with technical integration capabilities, such as… 

● Lost Revenue

● Damaged Relationships

● Chargebacks and Fees

● Lost and Wasted Time

● Losing Eligibility Preferences 

 

Cleo addresses each of the above problems with CIC Cockpit with RADAR. Our ecosystem integration platform…

● Reveals and notifies users when and where there is an error or issue within a transaction

● Flags, tracks, and searches issues by a specific partner or issue ID

● Uncovers actionable business insights by seeing where and when issues occur

● Eliminates blind spots that could lead to miscommunications or slowdowns

● Increases agility and control by resending and reprocessing messages, while improving visibility by sharing tickets with any team members or ecosystem partners

 

More than 4,100 companies around the globe trust Cleo to handle their B2B integrations and EDI transactions. Cleo empowers our customers by offering unparalleled issue and error resolution measures, so they can secure more revenue, improve relationships with trading partners, and increase efficiency. Never miss an SLA again with the power of CIC Cockpit with RADAR technology. 

Be sure to utilize this in-depth guide when searching for your next B2B integration and EDI provider. Re-take control of your business, by learning more about Cleo’s offerings, or by contacting us today.

Start addressing your integration issues by learning more about Cleo’s offerings, or by contacting us today.