I’ve hyped my Trilogy of frustrating EDI questions because they are the key to my breakthrough methods. This is a fourth bonus question; “…Where’s my data?”

This question is almost as important as the other three. Its consideration did not lead to my patent. Yet it is crucial. It has two parts; First, how is the business provided visibility to EDI data? Second, who’s data is it?

I add this question to the list for humor. But this has always bothered me. These executives asking in frustration, why EDI is so difficult, slow and expensive turn around to be informed of a major incident. They ask for details and to see what is causing the issue. No one can show them.

Executives usually have zero visibility to EDI transactions even on their own systems. Some outsourcing providers have a web page with limited visibility and zero functionality. They’re often not allowed to even view their data. Ask and demand answers to these types of questions; “What transactions did we process in the last hour? The last month?”, “What failed today?”, “Show me all related transactions for this PO?” Most will not know the answers. If they do, it will take them hours to collect the details.

Don’t leave business executives EDI blind.
They understand more than you think.

They know whose data it is. It belongs to them. They paid dearly and waited patiently for it. They know its theirs. Unfortunately, their IT department, yes, it’s theirs as well, thinks the data belongs to them. If outsourced they will be lucky if they can see their data at all. And they will not be allowed to take any action with the data that belongs to them. If the solution is to resend transactions, they must contact the outsourcer and ask them to resend their data. Then hope they resend the proper transactions.

When I started at one large employer at the turn of the century I went to a business meeting with my manager for training. During the meeting my manager, speaking to the business executive asking us to setup EDI, referred to EDI transactions as “your data.” That executive stood up, applauded and said, “Thank you. You are the first IT person I’ve met who understands whose data it is.”

There is an almost universal struggle in large corporations between the business and IT. I must look over my shoulder cautiously to even think of writing this. This is not spoken of. Mere mention is career ending. We are supposed to pretend we are a fully collaborating well-oiled machine achieving common goals.  IT gets an attitude. They are the ones who understand the technology. They are those with permission, literally, to see and control EDI. Business people would break it. With outsourcers its worse. They’re not just certain it’s their data, they will charge you for requested actions.

Furthermore, I am a strong proponent of transparent visibility of EDI transactions for Trading Partners. Its also their data. Provide an internal and external web page with visibility and appropriate functionality. Hiding errors does not resolve them. Open visibility enables collaboration, problem solving and innovation.

The data belongs to the business. Demand visibility and control.